Yesterday we say that “free agency” (members leaving) within “teams” (the church) is for the most part inevitable. As a pastor, it can cause great distress when people leave the church. Instantly your mind is flooded with the questions of why or did I do something, or countless other questions. However, I want to encourage churches this morning to see that sometimes “free agency” is not only inevitable, but that it can also be a good thing.
Ephesians 4:16 says, “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Again we should notice that the body is fitly joined together. In other words it is not only assembled properly, but it is also held in place. How is that done? Well we find the answer in the end of verse 15 when Paul writes, “even Christ.” In other words it is Christ who has brought each person to that particular church. He did it to make the body closer to what He desires it to become. Therefore, we need to realize that sometimes God give a person a new assignment within the same church, but sometimes God moves them to a new location. This is where open communication between a pastor, leadership, and church members comes in. When someone leaves, we need to discuss why. Rather than judge their motives, we need to hear them out. If a person has left for an unbiblical reason, then we are to admonish them using God’s word (Mt. 18:15). To admonish means that we warn them mildly or we counsel them against their wrong practices. This is vastly different than judging them or telling them they are wrong. On the other side, if we speak with the person and they tell us that they have been praying about God’s leading in their life, and they sense He is leading them to a new ministry, and we see that they are not doing anything unbiblical then it is our job to pray for them and encourage them. As a pastor, it is always interesting that preachers encourage their people to get out of the pews and begin serving God, but when someone tells us that God is changing their assignment, we get very upset and tell them they are wrong. I understand the hurt of losing people and how others in the church can begin to question leadership when people leave. But if the person is leaving because God has told them to get out of their father’s house to a land He will show them (a reminder of God’s call to Abraham in Gen. 12), then who are we to tell them they are wrong. We can rejoice that if God removes one, then He already has another person in mind to bring to the church. That person may not do the same thing that those who left did, but consider it God supplying His church with what they need, when they need it! What it all comes down to is this, an exercise in faith. Do we trust God to provide for us personally as well as a church? God is undefeated since eternity past and the Bible says that He is going to win in eternity future. I think we can trust Him as our head coach and general manager to lead us in the right direction!
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him!