"Bless those who use bad words about you. Ask God to do good to those who trouble you." Luke 6:28
Two of the things that get talked about the most at our management team meetings is who are all the new faces and people who are checking out the Suncoast and taking their next steps here, AND , "What happened to so and so? And, what about this family? I hear they are checking out other churches..."
There have been hundreds of people that have been a part of the first four years of Church of the Suncoast and probably almost as many that have moved on. If you are a church planter then you know what I am talking about. You pour your life out into people. You even let your guard down and make friends with them. You have them over in your home and circle up in groups. You go to their kids games and then BOOM! First they miss one week, then two, then you send them an e-mail to see what is up and after about 2 or 3 months you just figure they have moved on. It hurts! Don't let anyone tell you it doesn't.
My wife Cheryl and I have had to deal with a lot of this. She had to pull me back from the edge from time to time because you start to wonder what is wrong with you! But, here are some things I have learned... NO, that is not right. Here are some things I am learning because just because someone leaves your church doesn't mean you didn't make a difference and it wasn't a win for your church.
The reality is the more connected a person is the more people know their buisness, and sometimes people just don't want the church knowing their buisness. So they leave and there is nothing you can do about that.
Sometimes there is a family situation that comes up and God has other plans for them? Sometimes they need to change up the routine for them to take their next step?
BUT, here is the bottom line. The time you invest into people doesn't get wasted! What steps did they take at your church? Did they accept Christ there? Did they make some next right choices? Did they kick a bad habit? Did they get a taste for serving and getting outside of themselves? The next steps they took at your church count! Even the small ones, they started coming back to church again for the first time in years and it took your church to do that! Wow! That is huge!
The investment you make as a church leader, staff member, volunteer leader, or fellow church member will not return void (read the Bible). One day on the other side of this life we will get to see the truth of this.
Just because people leave doesn't mean you are a loser, a bad speaker, a poor leader, or mean you didn't try hard enough.
Count even the small stuff as wins!!! And, continue to put yourself out there! God will bless that and He will grow your ministry in ways you can't.