What's the best way to leave a church?

I've recommended the Cloud-Townsend Solutions for Life web site before in this blog. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, authors of the Boundary books and many other titles, offer short videos online that answer a variety of question from relationships to leadership. This question was featured in today's email from them and I love their answer.

What's the best way to leave a church? My family has been very involved with our church for years, but we want something different. A written letter seems so heartless, a meeting seems like overkill. Disappearing can't be right. How do we move on without causing hurt or miscommunicating?

John Townsend's answer: Sit down over coffee or a meal with the leader you know and talk about why you're leaving. It won't be overkill, considering that the church is a family. First, it will help the pastor feel valued. Second, the pastor might learn about something that might need changing. It's a learning experience. If you get a bad reaction, then it validates leaving. But in a healthy situation, it leads to good things all around.

Great answer! I've always appreciated it when people sought me out to tell me they're leaving. It's great to know why and not have to guess or take it personally or feel undervalued. It's easier for everyone involved when we see each other at sports events, in the grocery store or the coffee shop. Some of you who read this may have left other local churches to come to Five Oaks. Even if it's been a while, if you were involved and knew the leadership of your former church, do yourself and everyone a favor and talk to the pastor. Do it personally. It'll be a redemptive and healing experience in most cases.