A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

Leaving A Church: The Hardest Letter I Have Ever Had To Write

Going through my old mail (this article was first run in 2011) I came across a copy of one of the hardest letters I have ever come to write. I have edited the particulars and specifics but featured the letter in it’s entirety. I have featured it not to cause any malice but to perhaps help somebody who may be in a similar situation. When breaking fellowship with a church that is digressing from orthodoxy, it is never easy especially after you have been a devout member.  I thank God for the journey I have come through, without which I would not have known his providence and grace.

Dear Pastor XX,

Warmest summer greetings to you and your family. The last six or seven months have been a period of soul searching and re-evaluation of our own lives, our family and church visions in light of the Gospel.

As a young Christian family, we have always wanted to be used by God and be involved in the body of Christ to the best that we can. Over the last five years we have drifted gradually from the truths and ideals that we once held so dearly. These last couple of months have been a time of learning and re-evaluation at different levels.

By the time we got married, I and XXX (my Wife) had been brought up in the now popular church growth model (Willow Creek model) or seeker friendly model that attracts droves of the un-churched. This model of church life influenced the way we looked at life and set our family goals and vision. But as you may well know the strength of this model of church growth is that it makes church life more attractive by eliminating preaching on doctrinal essentials of Christianity like God’s Sovereignty, sin, righteousness and judgement while focusing on life enhancement, self esteem and the “felt” needs of the congregation.

Since our foundations were not grounded in sound doctrine, we soon embraced Word of Faith and Prosperity theology. The emphasis in Word-of-Faith doctrine is all on success, prosperity, advancement, gain, health and strength. There is usually little compassion for those who fail to come up to these exacting standards. Gradually we were finding ourselves reading less of the bible or dying to self and following Christ. We were Christians in word but not deed.

Finally we found it difficult to explain to our impressionable children from scripture the justification of esoteric experiences we so easily affirmed like the being “slain in the spirit” phenomenon. We realised that our justification of these signs and wonders could not stand the test of scriptural scrutiny seeing that similar occurrences could be sited in New Age, Hindu and pagan hypnotic trances.  Besides these occurrences do not authenticate and don’t always mean that Jesus is the power behind them, this left us with little doubt that we as Christians were inadvertently neglecting basic biblical exegesis and hermeneutics.

Over the last couple of months we have been prayerfully asking God to take us back to the place where he was precious to us more than anything in our lives. Back to the place where we began our walk with repentance and faith in Christ alone. This has been an eye opener.  If we do not preach about sin and God’s judgment on it, we cannot present Christ as Saviour from sin and the wrath of God. And if we are silent about these things, and preach a Christ who saves only from self and the sorrows of this world, we are not preaching the Christ of the Bible. Such preaching may soothe some, but it will help nobody; for a Christ who is not seen and sought as a Saviour from sin will not be found to save from self or from anything else.

We believe in the absolute necessity of regeneration by the Holy Spirit for salvation because of the exceeding sinfulness of the human nature, and that all are justified on the single ground of faith in the shed blood of Christ, and that only by God’s grace through faith alone are we saved.

While the last couple of weeks have been a period of transition (for us as a family) we began to look for a more conservative Evangelical church fellowship. Despite the decisions we have made I would like to let you know that XX Fellowship Church has a special place in our hearts and always will.

As a family we decided we would look for and attend a local Church that:

  • Believes that salvation is wholly of God by grace on the basis of the redemption of Jesus Christ, the merit of His shed blood, and not on the basis of human merit or works.
  • Believes the Bible is the very Word of the Living God to man, and understanding the priority of knowing and obeying its truths, the church has to be committed to teaching Scripture with diligence and authority.
  • Believes that the cross is the central focus of the church and the purpose of the church is to glorify God.
  • Upholds The Doctrines of Grace- Reformed Theology.

We do hope this letter finds you in good health. Warmest regards from XXX (my kids).

Grace be to you,

Godspeed.

Michael and XXX ( my wife).

This letter sums up my spiritual journey but is not an end in itself. I know there is never “the perfect church”. My hope and prayer is that in heaven we shall have perfect fellowship with many that we may disagree with on the less fundamental tenants of Christian faith. But I do believe there are some tenants of orthodoxy that should never be handled lightly.

Like Martin Luther we should be ready to live and fight for these truths and be able to say:

“Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason … my conscience is captive to the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. “

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11 responses to “Leaving A Church: The Hardest Letter I Have Ever Had To Write

  1. M Burke March 8, 2011 at 20:01

    Was there a response?

    • Michael March 8, 2011 at 20:08

      It was hardly the kind of letter you would expect a reply from but I got one and it wished us well or something to that effect.

  2. Elishanne October 12, 2014 at 01:53

    Hi brother in Christ! Thank God you have shared this letter. I was just about to make an exit letter to my childhood church whom have not practiced the right concept of Christianity over the years I have been observing the growth of members in faith and action. Until such time I was ordered by God to commit my service after graduating college. Only after this incident where a co-pastor committed sexual immorality to several young people-(ages 13-21) have I realized that I, being a youth leader and a witness to the “rape crimes” have a responsibility to speak truth to the parents of the victims and to trusted elders of the church. But to no avail, our Head Pastor believes that “silence is the key to unite the church like nothing happened.” Instead of encouraging the elders and congregation to pray and fast and bring awareness to young people and parents I was blamed for my acts of urgency in informing the right people who should know about this. I once reported to our Head Pastor a similar act of this co-pastor to a youth leader a year ago but no action was given to prevent later incidents which have led to this “rape crimes.” I can’t stand continuing fellowship with everyone in church pretending that “nothing happened” wherein in truth everyone is guilty-(including I) in keeping secrets that brought to this. Someone needs to stand up for truth for God’s holiness and righteousness to dwell in His people. This is a hard decision because like you, I love my church family and I did not expect any of this to happen. Your letter is an inspiration that I will also overcome in Christ dear brother. Godbless you indeed!

    • Acidri October 12, 2014 at 06:13

      Thank you for passing by. Indeed if we love truth we will expose anything that grieves the Holy Spirit or brings the name of God to shame. It is in love that we pursue holiness within the body of Christ.

  3. sometimeisitandthinksometimesisit October 23, 2014 at 01:53

    Oddly my Church left me!

  4. pianobluz October 27, 2014 at 14:56

    My first thought was why write a letter at all. But now I see that gently explaining the direction that God has taken you and your family, is by far, the most loving thing that you could do. Your letter was free of anger, and accusation, but still left room for God to work. I pray that all pastors and church leaders who find that they have strayed from orthodoxy, will once again listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and the voice of their membership, and find their footing once again.

  5. Tony Williams August 20, 2015 at 14:04

    This is such a blessing to me. I am in the process of sending a letter to my childhood church that I attended for 11 years. I wrote the rough draft and am having multiple people look over it. When I look back on that night or even the months leading up to hearing biblical preaching and looking in the bible to examine the truth. Then it was like veils were being taken off of my eyes and I was convenienced in my heart that my home church as well as the 2 other church’s I played the drums for were practicing as well as preaching things that were man centered rather than Christ centered. I really needed this so much. Really an answered prayer.

  6. Myra Leslie Narido November 25, 2015 at 08:34

    Thank you for sharing.

    We are right this very moment in this same situation. The pain is very real. And this is our 2nd experience leaving a dear church family because of doctrinal differences. We are praying to find a church that upholds reformed theology where we will stay for life.

    • Acidri November 29, 2015 at 09:00

      I hope God leads you to a church where his word is faithfully preached.

  7. DebbieLynne March 22, 2016 at 17:09

    I wish we had been as gracious when we met with the pastors and elders of the church we left two years ago. A letter might have been easier, but they wanted a meeting. Between the time constraints and the wide array of emotions, we focused on the negatives (all doctrinal), and never acknowledged how they’d supported us during my husband’s illness. Writing a letter might have been more honoring to the Lord.

  8. P. Tefft July 7, 2017 at 00:10

    Your letter speaks volumes of truth and I am joyful to know you have returned to your first love, God’s grace and reformed theology. God continue to lift you up through these beautiful apostolic doctrines !!


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