Why should I leave my church or denomination?

Question
Why should I leave my church? I'm considering a different denomination - Presbyterian.
Answer
Leaving a denomination or church isn't an easy decision and definitely a matter of much prayer. It’s also important to ask if there is biblical warrant to do so.

But what are some legitimate reasons to leave your present denomination? I’ll answer this question by asking these questions:

  • Is there a scriptural view of the word of God in your present denomination? (2 Tim. 4:1-5; Tit. 1:9; cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 1:19-20).

  • Is it embracing a false gospel or heresy? (Gal. 1:7-9).

  • Are your pastors and deacons biblically qualified to lead the church? (1 Tim. 3:1-7; 3:8-13).

  • Is the leadership of the church living in unrepentant sin? (1 Tim. 5:19).

  • Is unholy living tolerated without discipline? (cf. 1 Cor. 5:1-2, 9-11; 2 Tim. 3:5; 2 Thess. 3:6).

  • When, and if it is administered, is church discipline being properly administrated? (cf. Matt. 18:15-18; Gal. 6:1-6).

  • Is the church properly administering the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper? (See below).

  • Is your present worship service more about entertainment than actual worship before your Holy God? (cf. Isa. 6:1-7; John 4:23-24).

  • Is God calling you to leave your present church? (cf. Acts 8:29; 13:2, 4).

While there may be other biblical reasons to leave your current church, you should also ask yourself if it’s not because you are simply discontented with your present church. A sincere and honest personal inventory needs to be done.

If you decide to move, and if it is imminent, it must be properly planned. You should consider how every member of your family would be affected. Communication is key, and openness and family discussions are imperative. How best to tell the church and the related groups you are in needs to be considered too. It is also important that you meet any present obligations. Leaving should be done as peaceably and lovingly as possible.

You mentioned thinking of possibly going to a Presbyterian church. Are you in agreement with the Westminster standards, which are the Westminster Confession of Faith, Westminster Larger Catechism, and the Westminster Shorter Catechism? If you are, then a Presbyterian church should be a good fit. However, proper discernment is necessary here too because there is a spectrum of Presbyterian churches and you'll want to find one on the conservative end that adheres to these standards and reflects faithfulness to God’s word. I recommend thorough research and then sitting down with the prospective pastor to ask where he stands on the above questions, what missions opportunities there are at home and abroad, and how you and your family could best serve in this new church. Again, this entire process must be bathed in prayer.

Related Topics

Transubstantiation vs. Consubstantiation vs. Memorialism vs Reformed?
The Westminster Confession of Faith
The Westminster Larger Catechism
The Westminster Shorter Catechism

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).