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It's Always Difficult

The privilege of planting and pastoring the same church for 11 years brings with it some hard good-byes. Literally, from the first month, January 2005, people have come, joined and left. This is just part of church life.

But, at the same time God has brought many new people in these 11 years, people committed to serve and worship at Grace Community Presbyterian Church, PCA. We always rejoice when we receive new members. This too, by God's grace, has been a wonderful part of church life.

We've lost valuable servants and members because their jobs have taken them out of Fort Worth. I don't like it, but am grateful that another church in another part of the country will be blessed with these former members.

But then there are the others who simply transfer their membership to another church in our area.

I've heard a whole host of reasons why these former members have decided to leave. Here are just a few:
1. The preaching is bad and getting worse.
2. The church doesn't have a paid youth pastor.
3. I need a church with people who are more my age.
4. The church didn't care for me or my family.
5. Too much "sin talk".
6. The church lacks community.
7. If someone I knew came to faith, I couldn't bring them to church because of their view of baptism.

When people leave our church for these reasons (and these are only 7 of the dozens of reasons I've heard in the last 11 years), it is always difficult. I think it hits my wife especially hard. But we, the leadership, need to be willing to hear these criticisms and address them if we believe them to be legitimate. Also, if possible, we take the opportunity to pastor the people who hold such views, if they don't leave first.

This blog post (not the one you're reading, but the one I'm linking to) has some helpful "decoding" advice for me, and all those who hear frustrated or disgruntled church members.  The decoding is overly general, but I hope you find it helpful when and if you hear such things about the church where you are a member. But most especially, if you are a disgruntled member thinking about leaving your church, does the "decoding" help you?


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Ephesians 4:11-14

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (ESV)

In the last couple of months, I've heard of the death of a couple of influential professors. The tributes I read reminded me of how God has blessed His church with these men. I began to think about the teachers and professors who have influenced me.

And then I read a post recently from someone who graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS). What he wrote about WTS was foreign to me. He admitted it was based on "his experience" but it was full of char…

My Teachers, Part II

I wrote a blog post a few days back out of gratitude for those who taught me at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. What prompted me to write the first post were the recent deaths of pastors/teachers/theologians and reading those who wrote tributes to them. And then a former student from WTS wrote a nasty, "victimy" blog post about the culture, faculty and student body of WTS when he was there.
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As in the last post, I've linked to a book they've written. Some of these men have written many books and I encourage you to take a look at all of them.

Winston Smith--I had the opportunity to worship in the same church as Winston and his wife Kim and their then small children. He led our small group. Winston's passion for equipping future pastors in the counseling classes…