One theme I occasionally hear when talking with Ex-Christians and atheists is how when they left the church, no one even noticed. And when I say “left the church”, it initially could be for non-spiritual reasons such as a job change or a cross country move. It can also be for spiritual reasons such as dissatisfaction with or disagreement with their current church.
Do we care enough to reach out to someone who has left? 1 John 4:11 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” What better way to love someone who has left than to take notice and reach out to them?
Are the leavers to blame?
Now, I have strong feelings about those who leave and aren’t missed by those left behind. I believe those that leave deserve at least part of the blame. I’ve been within a church, and left, and felt like I wasn’t missed. But in that church, I never got involved. I never volunteered. And I didn’t seek to become connected in any sub-surface relationships with others within the church. So, who did I allow to know me at a level that would notice if I suddenly stopped coming? It was my fault, at least in part.
But, let’s not use that example to excuse our part of the blame. The theme I have heard from many ex-Christians is that they left, and they expected to be noticed…and ended up disappointed. We as a faith or as a congregation failed to notice or do anything about it. This disappointment reinforces their lack of faith in a loving God who takes notice of them.
Are we just lazy or unloving?
Now, let’s shed light on an unspoken truth here. Many people DO notice, but far too few take the time to do or say anything about it. We’re lazy. Or maybe we think someone else has probably reached out and that our doing so is not necessary. It’s someone else’s job like the pastor right? Not!
Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has left, and then someone calls or emails and says “hey, I haven’t seen you around. How are you?” Suddenly, you feel important, noticed, and loved. That’s the impact we can have on one another if we simply go from noticing, to saying or doing something about it. And in a spiritual sense, we reinforce the person’s faith in God that they are loved and He cares about them. What we should do about it?
How to love the leavers
So, here is my call to action for you. Has someone left your church? Have you taken notice of someone you used to see in the hallways that you no longer see? Reach out to them in some way. Connect with them on Facebook. Call them or email them and simply let them know you noticed their absence. Let them know you care. Be a bridge of God’s love to them. By doing so, you will help change the face of Christianity and positively impact their faith in God at the same time.