The Cry of Those Left Behind

Article background: The article below was written
by Cheryl Musser.  The church she belongs to has gone through some
major battles over the past few years.  This has resulted in some
casualties. As the church administrator, she, along with the pastors
and elders are presented with the facts of church life that are not
very pleasant.  Here are some very honest and challenging emotions and
feelings that we all go through when some one leaves a church due to
hurt feelings, disagreements or perhaps a growing coolness to the
things of the Lord.  Cheryl read via Facebook how a former church
family had found this wonderful new church, a very painful way to
discover that they had, in fact, left their former church home.

The Cry of Those Left Behind..   used by permission...

This morning, as I checked my Facebook newsfeed, I was struck by an
overwhelming sadness.  What a sinking feeling it is to have confirmed
that you have lost another family to “somewhere else”.  Over the years,
we have seen it many times. People you loved, prayed for, cried with,
worshipped with, attended their weddings or family funerals, rocked
their babies, played volleyball with, and shared your heart with have
slowly evaporated.  They show up less and less, until members that have
covenanted to be church members disappear without a goodbye.  That
leaves the rest of us in mourning. Was there something we could have
done, some need we could have met, if you had but shared it?  Was it
something we did? Why have you left us, your church family, without so
much as a goodbye, no explanation?  Yes, I know that God sometimes
calls us to make a church move for the growth of our family, but
wouldn’t that same God want you to go to your old church family for
their blessing and a release from membership? Wouldn’t He want you to
say goodbye?  Oh, it’s easier this way, you say as you just slowly slip
away. Easier for who? For you. What about the rest of us, left feeling
hurt, betrayed, confused and abandoned?  Have we not invested enough of
our hearts in your life to deserve a decent goodbye?  

We see you at Walmart, and in politeness make pleasant
conversation.  Yet, inside, our heart cries out, “What have we done,
why have you abandoned us?”  Leaving a church is not like leaving a
social club, it is leaving your family that has loved and cared for
you. It’s like serving divorce papers without a chance for
reconciliation, while one party has no clue there is a problem or an
unmet need.  Oh, dear Lord, how it hurts those left behind, like an
unhealed wound that is poked again when we remember you are no longer
sitting in your usual spot, or sharing your warm smile with us.  

In a society rampant with divorce, people are divorcing their
churches and skipping off to greener pastures.  If God is really
calling you to change churches, He will lead you to do it the RIGHT
way, with due respect to those who have pastored you, and the people
who have loved you all these years.  How it must grieve God’s heart to
see His children wounding their own family members by their actions. If
you have ever left a church without going through the proper goodbyes,
search your heart and ask God if there is a way to make that right with
those you left behind.  Please give us closure, a letter, a visit, a
phone call, an explanation, an apology, or even a return? Leave your
gift at the altar and make things right with your brothers and sisters.

Most days, I don’t even think about all those who have left, but
today the overwhelming sense of loss came crashing down. To those of us
left behind, may God bring healing to the wounds buried deep in our
hearts. May He continue to enable us to love without fear of losing,
and trust in His faithfulness to bring our church to fulfill its
purposes in Him.  

In His love,Cheryl 3/16/2009