Don't you love how easy it is to unsubscribe from a mailing list. Most of the time you just click that little unsubscribe button, it takes you to an impersonal website and you click confirm and you are done.
Well, youth ministry isn't that simple. Today I had a parent email me and ask me to take them off our ministries email list. We haven't seen this family in a couple months, but that wasn't abnormal. When he emailed me he was a bit abrupt and just asked me to stop emailing because they had decided to leave our church. This wasn't impersonal, it was personal... as everything with church is, relationships are tied up in everything.
Now I don't know the family super well, their kids came fairly irregularly, but it always sucks to see youth leave your group. But that got me thinking, its about the kingdom. They aren't leaving they are just going on to another place where they will continue to grow.
So often we are so possessive and judgmental when people leave, and part of me thinks that what makes our church lives so messy. We forget about the people we are sad are leaving and only think about ourselves.
When I was in my late teens, my family decided to change churches, we were ready to leave for a while because of issues in the church and decided that we would move on, my father was going to start a church as a pastor (which he had not been before) and my brother and I started to attend another church for teens/young adults while he started up his church.
The day we told people we were leaving started a massive wreckage. People started hurling insults and my parents, some of my friends parents told them they couldn't be friends with me. Not because we had done anything wrong, but because we were leaving in a time of "crisis" and we were suddenly too good for them.
The problem with this all was, they weren't concerned with our spiritual well-being they were worried about their personal relationships. My family wanted relationships with these people, we wanted to stay friends, we were just thinking we would grow spiritually elsewhere.
So, all is said and done and I replied to the family that left our church. While I was sad to see two of our students to leave our ministry, I told them I was excited for them as they journey to another place to be fed, and I hope they would connect quickly and easily. Because below my selfish desires, are my motivations from Christ that tell me I need to encourage my family, because fall-out from leaving a church can be brutal.
So what is your ministries plan to deal with the exit of a family?