Church Division

My husband left our church.

Question

Recently, my husband decided to leave our church because he said he doesn’t feel spiritually led there anymore. I see this as a division in our family because I haven’t heard God tell me to leave our church and go with my husband. I like our church and don’t want to leave. Any advice?

Answer

Given our gender, personality type and background differences, the issue of what church to attend can become complex and lead to disagreement. One of the many things we’ve learned in over 20 years of marriage is that every conflict provides a unique opportunity to better understand but not necessarily agree with the heart of our spouse.

Since the Bible tells us that we are “joint heirs in Christ,” it is our understanding that a decision of this kind is most appropriately made by both husband and wife. There are actually two decisions to be made. The first is if you should leave and the second is where you should go. Putting first things first, we’d encourage you to agree to spend the next three months seeking God’s heart for your church home. We’d also encourage you to find at least three couples that you’d feel comfortable asking to pray for you on a daily basis regarding this important decision.

There are so many unanswered questions here concerning your husband and his decision. He sounds like something upset him and the way he is resolving his hurt is by leaving the church. In this difficult situation it might be helpful to try to talk about it further by asking him some key questions. Do not interrogate him, but ask if he would be willing to share with you what is going on for him that led him to make this decision for the family. If you have children, has he thought about how this decision will affect them? Does he have a church in mind that he would like to visit? If he feels strongly about a transition, would he be open to making the transition slowly, visiting around, but with keeping some contact with your present church?

Have you both sat down and really listened to each other’s hearts and spiritual needs and reasons for wanting to stay or move? Would your husband be able to say that you understand his needs and concerns? Can you say that your husband understands your needs and concerns? How long did your husband spend praying about his decision? Did he have others pray with him? Did he seek wise counsel? Did he think and pray about how this decision might affect you? If there are children, has he thought through how this change might affect them?

There are a wide variety of healthy reasons why God would lead a couple to change churches. Unfortunately, there are an even greater number of unhealthy reasons why people change churches and most of the time, people change churches for reasons that aren’t healthy. God usually leads us to something and not just away from something. Has God been doing a special work in your marriage or family that has prepared you to be more effective in a different congregation? Keep open to the possibility that God may be leading somewhere else and pray that your husband will be open to the possibility that he might be wrong concerning his decision.

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