A pastor who has served the same nondenominational church for 30 years has owned up to big mistakes he made when people told him they were leaving his church, and listed nine things leaders can do when someone informs them of such a decision.
Mark Altrogge, a non-vocational pastor who has served Saving Grace Church in Indiana, Pennsylvania, for three decades, shared in a post on The Blazing Center Tuesday that one of his worst failures years ago was when he tried to convince a construction worker to take a job at McDonald’s and stay at his church, rather than move his family to Houston where there were better job opportunities.
“How stupid was that?” Altrogge asked himself, noting that the man moved to Texas anyway.
A year later he met with him again and asked for “forgiveness for my arrogance,” but soon realized he has made numerous mistakes in his responses to similar situations.
The pastor said his experience has taught him a number of important lessons about how pastors should react to people leaving their church.
On top of his list was asking to meet with and listen to people who say they are leaving because they have been offended.
“Why are we so slow to do this? People have left our church because they were offended at me — felt I didn’t handle a situation right, or didn’t care for them in crisis, and I didn’t call them?” he posited.
“In one case, I contacted the individual, but when they shared their perspective I kept saying things like, ‘But remember, I did this and I said that.’ Defending myself. I hadn’t done anything wrong. That didn’t help.”
Second, Altrogge said pastors need to “listen, really listen.”
“Then someone said I should meet with them and just listen. Take notes. Don’t defend myself. Don’t make excuses. Really try to hear them and ask God to convict me and show me where I sinned. Not to put the blame on them,” he wrote.
Third, he said they should “ask what you could have done differently.”
“Another thing someone suggested. In addition to listening without defending myself, they said I should ask how I could have handled the situation better from their point of view. When I did this, God convicted me again, and I believe gave me wisdom for how to do better in the future,” he advised.
Next, he suggested that church leaders “reach out to those who leave your church.”
“Even if there is no offense there. How many times people left our church — for any number of reasons — and I just never called them. I’m not talking about someone leaving because of major sin that you have confronted them on. I’m talking about leaving because they just weren’t connecting, or they disagreed with a doctrinal issue,” he said.
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Source: Christian Post