If your church has been around for more than 6-months then you know people are going to leave. And, when I talk about people leaving I am talking about "Christians". The already convinced are the ones that will leave your church.
Recently, at Church of the Suncoast we have had a few waves of people (believers) leaving. For each of them it has been mainly over the idea that the church is here for outsiders, the unchurched, and not here to take care of every need a believer has. In other words we will not have dozens of ministries to meet the church's every need! Why? Because we are focusing our limited time, talent, and treasure on creating environments for unchurched people to take their next step with God. Some people just won't buy into that...
So how do you send them off??? What do you do??? Here are two things and in part 2 we will talk about 2 more ideas:
1) Don't get mad and upset!
The worst thing you can do when people tell you they are leaving is to get mad and upset. ESPECIALLY, when they are leaving because they don't buy into your vision. It's tough not to want to rush to defend the vision and beat them over the head with the vision, but we can't. We have to stay calm, thank them for their time and service, wish them the best, and tell them they are always welcome anytime! Tell them that it is "OK" because not everyone will buy into this deal. You will never convince them that you are right so don't try to defend things and don't get mad even when they say not so nice things about you. This leads to the second idea:
2) Don't chase after them!
Don't try to spend hours convincing them of how they can still fit in your church and how you can change things for them. Stay true to what God has called you, straight ahead! After they tell you they are leaving, let them! Don't give them phone calls to check in and see if they have found another church yet... Don't try to lure them back. You don't want them back! Remember they left because they didn't buy into the vision! They are not bad people, they are just not the people you need to fuel the vision. Fact is you need their seats anyway for the new people God is going to bring.
Stay tuned for the final two big ideas on letting people leave well and take a second to tell me what you think as a church planter / pastor.