Q & R: When Do I Leave My Evangelical Church?

Here are two versions of a similar question:

  1. Hello,
              While I still have much to learn-I have begun this journey of awakening. I was raised in an evangelical family and attend a private Christian university. I am wrestling with my beliefs and wanted to thank you for sharing your perspective and journey. Going to simplify my question: I’m unsure what to do when my own personal beliefs differ from a large church I attend and am growing spiritually at. Should I stay and continue to grow while differing on certain issues? Or should I find a more likeminded church but that is less recoursed to help the local community?



My wife and I lead at a vibrant church in Ohio. They give thirty percent of what comes in away. They don’t spend their money on buildings; they give it to people in need.

Nonetheless, they insist on only men as elders. My daughters will hear that Jesus empowered women, but our church will always put men in the highest places of leadership. That dissonance is so discouraging. We’re tired of seeing little change.

We’ve held forums and had difficult conversations. They’re now letting women sit in on meetings, but not vote.

All this sits outside of other ways the Bible is read regarding homosexuality, the rapture, and hell.

I know I’m not asking anything new. Nonetheless, I have to ask: When do I decide to leave? There’s no healthier church in our city.


Here’s the R:

As you can imagine, I’m asked this question quite often, especially lately. Here are my responses …

  1. Are you sure there is no healthier church in your city? White Evangelicals often write off Mainline Protestant churches … you might be surprised at the vitality and depth of a UCC, DoC, American Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, or Methodist church in your area. And perhaps there is a predominately non-white church that would welcome you?
  2. A good way to test the waters would be to meet with your pastoral team. Tell them honestly how you feel about their policies on women, LGBTQ, etc. Explain to them that you can’t be silent about these matters, and that you will be speaking up more intentionally in the coming months. Explain that you will do so without malice and with a great concern for accuracy … and with the goal of seeing your church come more in line with the way of Christ and the Spirit of justice, joy, and peace. Then ask, “Knowing this about us, would you rather we stay or go?” If they say “go,” I would go. And I would let anyone who asks know why you are leaving.
  3. If they say, “Please stay, we agree with you, we need your help,” then I’d do my best to stay and collaborate – without walking on eggshells!
  4. If you go, and if there are no other options where you live, perhaps it’s time to start an experimental faith community. Several groups have used my book We Make the Road by Walking as a curriculum for a year of gatherings – perhaps it could be helpful for you.

Watching Trumpism’s near total takeover of white American Evangelicalism (and significant sectors of Catholicism and surprising sectors of Mainline Protestantism), either through direct collaboration or silent complicity, I think it’s time for all white Evangelicals of conscience to consider withholding their consent from churches that aren’t vocally and actively resisting, and then re-invest their time, intelligence, money, and energy where they will benefit the common good rather than the narrow, conservative, patriarchal, right-wing agenda of Evangelical whiteness and religious supremacy. The stakes are too high, the time is too short, and Evangelical leadership is too compromised. Thank God for the few brave exceptions – support them wherever you can. But wherever you must, withhold your consent from compromised Evangelical leaders.