7 Reasons You Should Invite People To Leave Your Church Even Though It Scares You

You spend a lot of your time trying to grow your ministry.

When it comes to the mission of the church, it seems almost unthinkable to reach fewer people. Eternity hangs in the balance.

And every person represents a potentially transformed life.

The desire to grow is also part of human nature…isn’t it?

In any organization, none of us really want to reach fewer people or have less impact.

And yet sometimes, one of the best things you can do to become even more effective at accomplishing your mission is to invite people to leave.

It might kill you to entertain the thought of people leaving (it still kills a part of me).

But hang on.

I believe you’ll be a better leader and your organization will be more effective if you can embrace this truth.

But I realize it’s completely counterintuitive.

That Feeling in the Pit of Your Stomach…

Like you, it bothers me every time someone leaves.

When I first started in ministry, it hurt so much every time someone left. I felt like I had let them down, like I left the church down, like I had failed.

I also felt as though if I had been a better leader, I would have been able to keep them.

For a season it hurt so much I pretended I didn’t care anymore. But I did. I do.

I realize some of this is irrational and much of it might be unhealthy, but it hurts when someone goes.

However, if you let it fester, you’ll begin to live in fear all the time.

In fact, you can end up with people-pleasing as your main goal. You will lead in a way that you hope is going to prevent the greatest number of people from leaving.

That’s a terrible strategy.

The moment you begin to focus more on who you want to keep rather than who you want to reach, you put the mission in danger.

Fearful leaders focus more on who they want to keep, not who they want to reach. Click To Tweet

I Even Feel Terrible Every Time Someone Unsubscribes From My Blog

I feel this tension even when I write this blog.

For a few years now, people have been subscribing to my blog via email. I send almost daily emails with tips, strategy and encouragement.

When I first started emailing people, I would freak out at little inside every time someone would unsuscribe.

Sometimes I would click over to see who it was and ask myself questions like “What did I do? What did I say? Could I have done anything different to keep them?”

At the same time, I’d have new people subscribe every day. Would I ever I click over to see who they were?

Sadly, nope.


Because I’m naturally wired to focus on what I lose, not what I might gain.

Why am I not more excited about the people who are joining than I am saddened by the people who are leaving?

What’s wrong with me?


So I did an experiment.

People are naturally wired to focus on what they lose, not what they gain. Click To Tweet

My Experiment: How I Invited Everyone to Unsubscribe from My Email List

A few years ago, when I was just starting out on this site, I decided to work through this fear. I sent an email to my then 4842 subscribers with this headline: “Why You Should Unsubscribe from This Email List…Unless This is True of You.”

What was “this?”

“This” one thing was simply an invitation to stay subscribed if the person was passionate about leadership and personal growth.

I was nervous. I thought maybe I’d lose 60, or 600 or even 1600 subscribers. I didn’t even want to think about losing more.

Want to know what happened?

Everyone unsubscribed.

I’m kidding.

No. 1600 people didn’t. 600 didn’t. Not even 60.

So how many people actually unsubscribed?

45 people unsubscribed. That’s it.

That’s less than 1% of the list.

And some of the unsubscribers even wrote nice notes to thank me for the time they’d been on the list.

Even better, dozens of people who stayed took the time to write me unbelievably kind emails telling me they would never unsubscribe and told me story after story of how the blog was helping them and their team lead better.

I had never expected that. I replied personally to each one and saved them in an encouragements folder in my email.

Want to know the last weird thing?

More people signed up for my email list that day than unsubscribed.

That’s right. The list actually grew again.

Fast forward to today, and the list is over 15x the size it was a few years ago. Over 80,000 leaders currently subscribe to this list. A few unsubscribe every day. But even more subscribe daily.

So what can you learn from this?

Quite a bit.

7 Reasons You Should Invite (Some) People to Leave Your Church

I think the lessons I’ve learned from my little blog experiment and 20+ years of leadership have taught me some things about allowing people to leave your church or your organization. None of this (I hope) is motivated by ego or a closed leadership style. It’s just that too many people in the church—and in many organizations—are afraid to lead. And it costs everybody.

So here are 7 reasons you should invite some people to leave your church:

1. Unaligned people cost you something

In the case of my blog, I pay for my subscribers. It’s not huge dollars, but I was paying for people to be on the list who didn’t want to be on the list. It cost me money.

I would rather pay for people who are passionate about leadership and this blog than for people who aren’t.

People who don’t care about your church or organization cost you something too. Energy. Time. Frustration. Malaise. A lack of momentum.

People who are not aligned with your mission and vision always cost something.

Why pay? Why not make room for more people who are aligned?

Unaligned people cost you something. Effective leaders stop paying. Click To Tweet

2. Having the right people is better than simply having people

Having more people is not better than having the right people.

As this Inc. article shows, the financial costs of hiring the wrong person can be astounding.

Before you have more people, you need the right people.

The right people are people capable of taking on leadership, who are aligned around a common mission, vision, strategy and values, and who have the character to withstand the tests of leadership.

Get these people in place, and amazing things happen.

Having the right people is better than simply having more people. Click To Tweet

3. Some people will find a better fit elsewhere

Releasing people doesn’t have to be a sea of nastiness. In fact if it is, you’re doing it wrong.

Think of it this way: if someone isn’t passionate about your organization’s purpose, they will actually be better off somewhere else.

I tell people that all the time. We are not a church for everybody.

THE church is for everyone. But your church isn’t. You’re one part of a much bigger body. You alone will not reach your entire city. We need each other as church leaders.

You’ll be serving people by letting them find a better fit, and finding like-minded people will help you accomplish your mission more effectively.

Seriously, some people will honestly thrive in a different environment than yours. Why not celebrate that?

Let them go. You don’t own the Kingdom.

If you struggle with this idea that the church isn’t for everyone, I wrote this post for you.

THE church is for everyone. But your church doesn't have to be. Click To Tweet

4. Disengaged people can be disengaged elsewhere

Here’s the reality. Not everyone is ready to engage.

If you’ve got disengaged people, let them be disengaged elsewhere.

They can not serve, not give, and not invite friends at some other church. They don’t have to take up space in yours.

Particularly in a growing church where space is at a premium (as it often is at our church), we can’t really afford to long term people who are not going to engage in the mission.

I have all the time in the world for new people who are taking the time to explore faith. I have less time for ‘mature’ Christians who won’t roll up their sleeves and engage the mission (while we’re at it, we should rethink our definition of maturity).

If you've got disengaged people, let them be disengaged elsewhere. Click To Tweet

5. A Few Aligned People Can Change the World

I used to say we could do more with 300 aligned people than with 3000 unaligned people.

Then one year, in a tough season for us as a church plant, we shrank down to almost 300 adults – far smaller than what we were two years earlier.

We became so focused on our mission and particular strategy—and pursued it in a portable setting without all the trappings of other churches—that many people left.

It was a tough tough season.

But as I outlined in this post, those who stayed got aligned. Our mission became focused.

Now, a few years later, we’re bigger than at any time in our history and most of our growth is coming from previously unchurched people. People are passionate about our mission.

When you’re tempted to simply do whatever it takes to keep people, remember that a few aligned people can change the world. Jesus did it with 12.

6. Those who stay will feel honoured and relieved

You’ve got great people at your church. You really do.

When you clarify your focus and lead, great people generally follow. I’m assuming here that you have a God-given vision that’s affirmed by some capable and wise people around you.

But many people will thank you for cutting through the ambiguity and double-mindedness and leading.

When you cut unaligned people loose, the aligned will always thank you.

When you cut unaligned people loose, the aligned will always thank you. Click To Tweet

7. You’ll be blown away by how enthusiastic some of your people really are.

Over time, if your vision and direction are solid, you will see enthusiasm grow.

People will get passionate about your mission.

You will be amazed at how much synergy there is a group of people moving forward together.

When the voices of the critics go silent (because they leave), you will finally be able to better hear the voice of enthusiasm.

When the voice of the critics go silent, you will finally be able to better hear the voice of enthusiasm Click To Tweet

What about you?

I realize few people talk about this in the church. And I realize it’s controversial.

But I wonder if just some of it rings true.

What are you learning?

What keeps you from releasing people?

Leave a comment!

7 Reasons You Should Invite People To Leave Your Church Even Though It Scares You


  1. Suya Okunan Muhabbet Duası on September 14, 2021 at 4:00 am

    thank you very nice

  2. Pauline Duncan-Thrasher on August 27, 2021 at 8:39 am

    Thank-you for inspiring courage, discernment and love in our interactions with those who are unhappy and or uncommitted participants in a particular church or spiritual community. To me a candid conversation such as you described too seldom occurs and the pain of the unhappy member continues to grow and spread. To me you are not “booting them out” but rather suggesting that they may be happier elsewhere. Isn’t that what loving people and leaders of integrity are meant to do? Positively and grateful for your sharing. Positively, Pauline

  3. Bothwell Phiri on August 21, 2021 at 3:52 pm

    Hi Mark many thanks for this just like every other article I get from you daily. I share some of them with our different levels of leadership as well. I am not surprised by the response of some of my brethren here citing forgiveness etc because leadership is not for everyone. Jim Rohn also said stunningly in 1981 that you can’t take Chickens to Eagle School. Crude as it many sound the reality is that effective leadership is more a science than it is an art and what you have outlined in this article is going straight into pastoral leadership training. Thank you again sir

  4. Mark Graham on March 28, 2021 at 1:59 am

    Great great article! Practical truth

  5. Tom Delahanty on August 15, 2020 at 10:01 am

    I find this article very truthful. I have seen the devastation of mean spirited people shut down churches. Paul tells us to return to satan what is his and when they have had enough and repent bring them lovingly back in to the flock!
    1 Corinthians 5:8-13 New International Version (NIV)
    8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

    9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[a] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

    12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.

    Love the sinner but slander and gossip will ruin a team and Church and destroy a Pastor. Getting rid of trouble after attempts to encourage them to align will protect the sheep from wolves and when the wolves what to return then repentance and open arms . The door is opened to all except those who want to hurt the mission and sheep! Pastor are to protect the sheep from the wolves.
    (Its always an Option to be Blind!)
    Most people that go from church to church need to look inward and fall under submission to the house they sit under otherwise, no problem, find the right tribe for you.
    Great article and Jesus said one word, “Follow Me” and if you cant you cant come! um!
    Love and Blessing Apostle Tamara

  6. Pat on January 26, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    Since my wife left me 3 years ago I have struggled with my faith and attendance at my church home. I have completely disengaged from service and my attendance is terrible. After reading this it makes me ask the question should I leave my church? And if I do I would have the same struggles at another church. So what are my options? Should I not go to church at all? This is troubling to me.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 28, 2020 at 10:30 am

      Hey Pat,

      Wow, I’m so sorry you are going through this.

      If your church is a good church with loving people, I would encourage you to try to get engaged in the mission of the church rather than just attending. When you own the mission, you will likely begin to feel a lot more meaning come from your church experience, and you will get to contribute to spreading the best message on earth!

      You might start this process by meeting with your serve teams pastor, or your small groups pastor, and asking how you can deeper engage in the mission.

      Do you think you could do that?

      Cheering for you friend,


      • Andrei on January 9, 2021 at 7:40 am

        Pastors are not of God. How can they keep someone from fellowshipping with others?

    • Joyce on August 4, 2020 at 4:26 pm

      My husband and I left a large church after 10 years. We were on the prayer team. We left because of the way the leadership mishandled people. They disregarded people as something that could easily be replaced. In the painful time of grappling with that, we were invited to a very small house church. I sensed a little legalism but hoped for the best. The pastor and his wife soon had a “talk” with me. They said Things to me and my husband that I felt were error in judgment. It was not done in an honoring way. This was a very painful time for me. We kept attending their house for a couple weeks until the pastor texted my husband that it seemed like we were thinking we weren’t a good fit. I knew I couldn’t grow in an atmosphere like this. my husband felt hopeless. We won’t be attending church anywhere for a while. We don’t know what to say to our teenagers. I don’t see Jesus saying to Judas, “ I don’t think this group is a fit for you”. This has hurt us from trusting church leaders. I don’t think it’s their place to say this! I think it’s a defense mechanism to get them first before they get you! Judgment day will be very interesting indeed.

    • De Rose on August 21, 2021 at 7:44 am

      The article had nothing to do with your attitude towards church you are associating the article with your relationship with your wife. You are displaced from church because your going to church had 90% to do with your wife being with you and now that she is not there you can now see what kept you going. Go back to church and start loving God separate from how you are connected to your experiences with people and you will see Him and your church in a different light. Your separation from your wife showed you that you had no personal connection to what was more important to you and so God moved the support and you fell apart

      • Heather Carter on August 21, 2021 at 8:30 am


  7. Lee on September 12, 2019 at 9:59 pm

    I am a pastor. I honestly don’t dislike anything I can recall from your comments. Only one thing concerns me, so I ask:
    I see plenty in the Bible about forgiveness and turning the other cheek when someone has offended you. I have dealt with those who are constantly offending folks with their crude comments and poor social skills, and still find this hard to deal with; I even have others talking of leaving the church because of Joe. I guess every church has a Joe. I see in Matthew 18 a format for dealing with conflict in church. But, is there anything in scripture I’ve overlooked that says if you think someone’s a pain, invite them to leave? Seems like a good way to cause some to not only leave church, but walk away from God. I don’t want that. Others who complain about Joe will frequently use Joe as an excuse for not coming, and when Joe is gone… they have a new problem keeping them out of church. I think we must look at more than Joe. I think we need to look at ourselves with an equally critical eye. Anyway, do you have scriptures you can point me to in order to help in dealing with such folks as Joe?

  8. RENEE on August 21, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    I ended up in the hospital from being over-medicated from a mental health doctor after I got out of the hospital the new preacher removed me from the worship team. he demanded I wait six months just to see if he will allow me to play on it again he has already been given letters from my doctor saying that I could play and then I was fine but he refuses them. he acts like he doesn’t like me and another person in the congregation says he makes her feel unwanted also. I will not be worshipping at his church any longer he says I am leaving because I can’t play on the worship team I’m leaving because I believe he is controlling. This makes me sad. I really liked this church

    • Carey Nieuwhof on August 22, 2019 at 9:57 am

      Hey Renee,

      I am so sorry you went through this. I hope you find whatever healing you need and find a great church home.


  9. John Beeson on August 16, 2019 at 11:38 am

    Loaded with truth! Thank you so much for the encouragement and exhortation, Carey. You are a gift to pastors.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on August 16, 2019 at 12:12 pm

      Thank you so much John.

      Glad to be able to help!


  10. Christian Boakye on August 13, 2019 at 1:03 am

    Thank you very much. This is really helpful, it is full of wisdom, and gets results. I have seen it work greatly.

  11. John Jenkins on August 12, 2019 at 4:23 am

    I found this a real encouragement.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on August 12, 2019 at 3:33 pm

      Glad to help!

  12. Leigh Lambert on August 10, 2019 at 11:51 am

    I thought this message quite good – remarkably authentic in an age where most of the sheeple are afraid to risk exposure to the Truth about themselves and the nature of the relationships they cultivate both personally and corporately.
    Fear of loss has tragically shipwrecked all manner of relationships whose primary motivation is not rooted in love.

  13. Laura on August 10, 2019 at 9:06 am

    This is the worst advice for a pastor or church leaver EVER! Ask people to leave if they disagree with you? Are you kidding? Those people are either helping you to stay true to the mission or need to be there. All this advice may work for your blog, but not for real people in a real church. Those who agree with this do not understand the purpose of a church. It’s NOT to gather a group of people who agree with the pastor. Even when you excommunicate someone you allow them to attend worship.

    • Theo on August 11, 2019 at 8:38 am

      I respectfully disagree with the above comments. Those who continue to stand in the way of the mission of an established church can hamper the effectiveness of the ability of a church to move forward and can cause a schism that will irreparable destroy the community and desire of those who joyfully engage.

    • Amber Murphy on October 19, 2019 at 8:10 pm

      The entire message in this articlenis completely ANTITHETICAL to Christ! I am in shock. Id you are a mwmber od this pastpr’s church…RUN!…don’t walk …away ASAP!

  14. Anita Bagnall on May 28, 2019 at 3:48 am

    Is it normal that, at the tiny church that my husband and I attend, the Pastor and Associate Pastor discuss people who don’t attend their Church and/or sort of complain about people in general who do other things besides going to church on Sundays and Wednesdays during each service message?

  15. Tom on August 23, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    Ok, so i have this situation. One brother feels taken advantage of by another brother in our small church. We have talked to both, one wants to get things restored but the other says “ive forgiven him, just keep him away from me”. As a pastor and elder board we asked the unforgiving brother to be restored. He refused. I asked him “if God tells you to forgive him, would you”? Thinking i would show him in the word, but he said no!
    Too many know about it now. And it’s a big problem. Fact is I’m ready to quit. Is it time to ask him to leave? He is difficult and stubborn. He commented to me one time during our discussions that if i asked him to leave he would cause problems. Help!

    • Alexys Silva on August 2, 2019 at 2:36 pm

      Romans 16:17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.
      2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

      Romans 16:18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
      Matthew 18:15-17 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

      God bless you

  16. RON VANCE on July 20, 2018 at 7:35 am


  17. Marie on January 18, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    Pastor you are the most brutally open honest person I have ever heard if they Unsubscribed it’s because they can’t handle transparency. I ain’t going anywhere 😇. I already forwarded you to my brother and when I sign off I will forward to my sister and everyone that I can, it’s about time we have straight forward talks and not be shutout or shut down. This fantastic Praise be to the Heavenly Father for your Blog 😁😁😁😁😁 and don’t let the enemy mess with your head!

  18. […] there times when people should leave your church? Yes. In fact, here are 7 instances when you should invite people to leave your […]

    • Kay on June 1, 2017 at 9:39 am

      Valiant for the Truth has a article that acknowledges the sheep as belonging to Jesus.. All ‘ servants’ in pastoral positions should read it. ” A Pastor’s reflections : Never tell them to leave”.
      Church is no place to surround oneself with sycophants and yes men.” I don’t mean this in a harsh way. Just from another view and experience.

  19. MsMorales on January 12, 2017 at 12:12 am

    Wow! Great post. As you know pastor’s and pastoral family will always be critiqued, but no one will actually come forward. Much gossip and many get discouraged by the gossipers. If you know things are getting out of hand and you know who the gossip leader is, how do you approach that? Any ideas?

  20. Benjamin Cloyd on June 13, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    There are countless things about this article that make me a bit ill. Let’s start with the fact that you refer to the church as an organization and repeatedly call the church “our church” or “your church” when it is neither. The Church is Christ’s bride and while somebody may be filling up your “premium space” (just a disgusting and egocentric term you use) they might be dealing with a lack of faith or mental illness or a myriad of other issues that keep them from being more committed.

    Also, the Church is a community of which you are the leader but it does not revolve around you. Do not consider yourself more highly than you ought.

    And since you bring it up, let’s talk for a moment about maturity. I know church leaders who can recite the Bible, who preach every week about the law and love of God and who believe that it is there job to lead their people to God’s work but who do not believe it is their primary responsibility to do the actual work. They may appear mature but are white washed tombs.
    I was on one ministry team where a minister told me that he teaches the word and studies but that “doing” things for God is not his job. (He was referring to cutting grass at the church building and other church labor.)
    Sounds like a CEO. I assume his feelings on the matter resonates with you and your organization (your church) as well?
    When the voices of the critics are silent because they leave Your church, you might just have lost voices that help steer you away from an iceberg. Also, do not mistake enthusiasm for uniformity.

    So to answer your questions, I’m learning that us pastors and ministers need to be fervent in our faith, we must remain humble so as to not lose sight of our positions & I’m learning that the Church body needs to watch out for their pastor’s vanity and pride.

    What keeps me from releasing our church’s unmotivated people? In the absence of serious sin… I suppose being a proper child of God keeps me from doing so.

    • Teresa on February 24, 2018 at 10:21 pm

      Hi, I found you because I was looking up if people leave churches for bring gossiped about. So it’s kindof the opposite of what I was looking for but I liked the article, subscribed and thought I’d give it a try.
      I’d like to find an article to see if gossip causes people to leave churches. Probably no statistics on it I’m guessing. I’m trying a new church tomorrow for that reason alone. One leader went out of her way to make me feel unwelcome or snub me. I’m not exaggerating and another in this click is trying to ruin my reputation because of something she knows of from my past. The pastor talked with them but I got no reassurance about the results.
      If you can help now or in the future, thank you
      P.S.- There more than one church in the sea. I want to leave it behind me.

      • Elizabeth Labuschagne on August 15, 2018 at 6:01 pm

        I know exactly how you feel, remember this though, you are in the Church for Christ not for people. People not matter if they are called Pastor are at the end of the day people.
        They will offend and hurt you, if you do not fall into their structure of things according to their interpretation of the gospel you are evil.
        Churches do not like outspoken, strong people, they want to mold you according to their ways.

        Turn to God, pray, worship and ask for Gods guidance on where you need to be. Put the person who is gossiping in Gods hands, God will deal with them.
        I pray you remain in God and continue to worship and praise Him in all this as He is the only path.
        God Bless You

    • Amber on July 22, 2019 at 2:08 am


  21. Wesley on February 24, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    But, the body of Christ is not a mailing list…

    • Jonathan Haskins on April 15, 2018 at 9:15 pm


      Proverbs 29:12 New King James Version (NKJV)

      If a ruler pays attention to lies,
      All his servants become wicked.

  22. Kurt Bubna on August 11, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    I’ve been in ministry for over 35 years. I currently am the founding and sr. pastor of a fairly large church. Dude, this article is SPOT on. People have no idea how hard this is for us, and yet how necessary it is to move forward. Dare I quote Spock, “The needs of the many (sometimes) outweigh the needs (or complaints) of the one.” Yes, we love and care for people, but if they aren’t with us, then no one and no church is served by coddling the nay-sayers.
    For the record, I follow many blogs. Yours is the only one I read every time. You are a gift to me and to the Bride.
    Stay the course my friend.
    You are loved.
    Kurt Bubna

  23. linda on August 11, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    are you a 3DM church?

  24. rhiebert on August 11, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Something is not right when people have to be invited to leave a congregation; needless say I can’t agree with everything in this post. One thing I’m puzzled about is, is this article talking about church members, leadership or employees?

  25. Linda on August 11, 2015 at 4:40 am

    “inviting” people to leave is very different from ‘allowing’ them to leave. Inviting them to leave is about the leader being dissatisfied with the member they are supposed to be serving. Allowing them to leave is about the church member being dissatisfied with the leader – a different dynamic altogether. Surely as a leader you are called to serve everyone in your church, not just those who agree with you all the time? This is not a criticism, just an observation. Too many people are hurt in church by rejection from leadership.

  26. Brooke Benschoter on August 10, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    I was on the receiving end of one of these invitations to leave. While I agree with the concepts you outlined here, church leaders need to make sure they are asking people to leave for the right reasons and that they are being honest and truthful with their team and themselves. I did not leave but I did have a “airing” with the leadership in question and found that they were making decisions based on bad information often through third parties. Also, if someone IS aligned with the vision and mission but does not dance exactly as you do, you risk sending the wrong message to those that remain and losing a different approach that could help strengthen rather than destroy your church. Also, man up and do this yourself — don’t have volunteer council members etc. do this work.

    • chris on July 6, 2018 at 8:22 am

      well said Brooke! the church is about saving souls, not destroying them by asking/telling a person to leave!!-

      • Amber Murphy on October 19, 2019 at 8:18 pm


      • Kc on October 19, 2019 at 8:59 pm

        Allowing those disgruntled saints to act unholy in the church is not a show of love and by allowing them to continue acting unholy is against Gods Word and can also cause young christians to leave the church.

  27. John Nichols on July 11, 2015 at 8:42 am

    “equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry” requires those willing to equip and those willing to do. As a church planter I have often struggled with our inability it equip the people who weren’t wiling to do the work but we’re willing to sit on the side lines demanding it be done there way.

    Great perspective! It’s cool drink on a hot day for a thirsty leader. Thanks Carey.

  28. Deanna Dennis on July 2, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Are you running a fraternity or a church?

  29. Allen on April 27, 2015 at 7:55 am

    You ought to check your math. You lost almost one percent.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 27, 2015 at 8:00 am

      Thanks Allen. You’re right. 1%. Interestingly, the list has almost tripled since last summer to 14,000 subscribers.

  30. Jared Jackson on February 21, 2015 at 12:08 am

    Thank you so much for writing this. It is EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I’ve been struggling with this in youth ministry for quite some time.

  31. Toni on February 11, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Great, provocative post! I am a leader in a 3 year old church plant. Most members are pastors’ family members, or connected to family members. One or two family members (pastors’ sister and niece) are pretty disruptive and consistently distract others during our Sunday meetings. They may pass babies back and forth, walk at will, whisper loudly, or animatedly gesture this or that to others across the room). My pastor and I have had conversations about this, she is aware there is an issue, but nothing has actually been done. It doesn’t appear she will ask them to leave because they are family – yet these persons are a tight fit for the title of this post. Any insight or wisdom you can offer is appreciated. Either way you’ve found another subscriber in me!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 11, 2015 at 9:58 pm

      Hey Toni. Welcome! Wow…that’s an interesting situation for sure, and a tricky one. A principle that always helps me is this: separate the people from the problem. The problem is their behaviour. Assume the best and say “Hey, you might not know this, but some of the guests have been disrupted by some of your activity on Sundays. Can we talk about that?” Healthy people will respond well to that, apologize and address the issues. Unhealthy ones won’t…and then you know you can ask them to leave.

      • Toni on February 12, 2015 at 11:15 am

        Carey, thanks. Really good advice. Doing that restores perspective. I’ve forwarded a couple of your posts to our senior pastor, hope she signs up too.

  32. Nash on November 16, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    I am new to a full time church leadership position and I have actually been thinking some of these things you point out. Though I quickly dismissed them as crazy talk. Your post is exactly what I needed to read, as usual, and I appreciate your wisdom and candor!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 17, 2014 at 9:12 am

      Nash…so glad you’re in leadership. Glad it’s not just crazy talk. 🙂

  33. Edward Samuel on July 28, 2014 at 3:33 am

    This article really, really opened up my eyes. I’m appointed to be the new leader of my church for the youth ministry, and right now I’m assembling a team, a leading team. And yes, I’m worried more about those people unaligned with me, rather than focused on those who will support me along the way.

    At first I thought that I got a huge disadvantaged condition, since most of our great and respectful leaders leave our church. I thought, how could I run this church without those guys around. Lately, I realized that to gain new leaders (and futures), you need to let go some of the old ones. It’s hard, but it’s necessary. You lose some, you will gain more.

    So, thank you for this article.

    Wait, wait, let me rephrase that.

    Thank God for you being you 🙂

  34. Brian Owens on July 8, 2014 at 12:39 am

    This is really good, Carey. I’m just now seeing it because we’re connected with MAG Bookkeeping and they posted the link.

    We’re a smaller church plant and experiencing another wave of “established”, “mature”, unaligned folks hitting the road. While the reasons vary for the waves, this one had to do with money. These folks are quite well off, don’t give regularly, but feel like we don’t spend the church’s money wisely. They were holding their giving hostage to us bending to their wishes and demands. When we didn’t, they stirred up as much trouble as they could and got a few others on their “side.” When we still didn’t backdown, they left kicking and screaming, with damage done to us and the church. We knew we should have invited them to leave a year ago, but lived in the very fear you mentioned. They cloaked their criticisms in “accountability”, but we’re VERY transparent and accountable. They didn’t want accountability… they wanted control of the vision and direction of the church.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 12, 2014 at 7:49 am

      Wow Brian. Thanks for this comment and sorry to be a few days getting back (busy season). It’s amazing what gets done in the name of ‘accountability”. Often accountability is a mask for control or a hidden agenda. Great insights. Thanks for sharing!

  35. Luke from Europe on June 25, 2014 at 1:43 am

    Hi Carey, I agree with the post from the bottom of my heart. Just one practical thing, just that you know people read it from different sources. I try to reduce the number of emails I am getting, so I did not subscribe to the list, but I come over to your blog from your twitter. If I like it, which is very likely, I save it to my Pocket app to read it later again when offline. It is actually easier for me to save it from website than from email. Anyway, thanks for great leadership principles and thoughts, I like it a lot (and I loved your talk-conversation with Jeff and Perry at Orange’s pastors lunch). Thank you.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on October 4, 2014 at 11:09 am

      Lukas…thanks! That was a fun lunch at Orange, wasn’t it?

  36. Anonymous on June 23, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Thank you Pastor for this article. As a pastor of a little church plant, I appreciate your wisdom and share your articles with my team regularly. I have a tiny team and tiny church, but huge amounts of joy thanks to God and helpful brothers like you. God bless!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 24, 2014 at 8:36 am

      You’re welcome! Wish you weren’t so anonymous. 🙂

  37. Diane Riddell on June 19, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Where is any of this Biblical? The way I’m reading this is that if someone is not at your expected level of spiritual development you will ask them to leave YOUR “organization.” The church is the body of Christ, and I think a pastor should be extremely cautious about turning people away just because they don’t seem to be developing spiritually or because you think they are taking up too much space. The Holy Spirit could be dealing with someone’s heart for a long time. Jesus will be the judge of where people should be. They were led to you for a reason even if they are not convenient to your agenda. Maybe I’m wrong but maybe you should pray about this. Is it really spiritual discernment that has led you to these conclusions, or are you manipulating your congregation to your own ideas and agendas?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 21, 2014 at 6:09 am

      I can appreciate that this is counter-intuitive. A couple of thoughts. First, your church is not the Kingdom of God. It’s a part of the Kingdom of God. So you don’t have to house every Christian in your community. Second, this was a practice of the early church. Both Jesus and the early apostles regularly shook the dust off their feet when the reception wasn’t right. Probably more aggressively leaving people behind than even I suggest in this article. Third, Paul regularly talked about ‘trouble-makers’ in the church and encouraged Timothy and others to deal with it for the sake of the body of Christ. If you re-read the New Testament (or even the OT) through this filter, I think you will see that this is very biblical.

      But the motivation should remain love. Some people only get helped when the love you extend to them is firm and clear. Still, the motive is love.

      • JeffTN62 on June 25, 2014 at 11:48 pm

        isn’t there a danger of not having accountability to push people out the door to fit your agenda. Leaders don’t grow by having all yes people and I’m sure many cults would do the same thing. having elders in agreement would ensure a more biblical approach… If this is such a issue you have to write about maybe the mirror approach is something to consider or your not giving enough information that makes this appear to be very knee jerk and easy way out

        • pastorkc@yahoo.com on October 18, 2019 at 3:57 pm

          Its not really about fitting an agenda but agreeing with the mission, God’s mission. When a pastor is called to lead a church and lays out the goals of how we are striving for this mission, we teach and train for such alignment but if that cannot happen, we can accept that there are those who might need to fit in another church. Such alignment should align with Gods Word which in turn has us as yes men together, yes for God’s mission. As Jesus led, he taught and directed his apostles which became yes men because the journey leads us to the same mission.

    • chris on July 6, 2018 at 8:28 am

      well said Dianne Riddell

  38. Kristina Coleman on June 19, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Beautifully put and executed!!!

  39. Mark on June 19, 2014 at 10:14 am

    I can’t begin to tell you how true this article is. The church I pastor is in the throes of many “established” couples leaving. We have not run them off but we have not begged them to stay. I have learned that much of the fruit they are bearing now that they are gone, is negative fruit. They have left and they gossip and slander the church. Meanwhile, God is bringing in people that have a passion for Him and His mission. We have come to accept that the exodus of the former members is a pruning by God. This fact is what keeps me going. The plant looks frighteningly small and weak but I know that the pruning will produce a healthier plant that will bear fruit. As Paul said, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” May we always remember that it is God that makes His Church grow.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 21, 2014 at 6:05 am

      Love your last line especially Mark. We could all use to get over ourselves. Bingo!

  40. Connie Clark on June 19, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Carey, I say “amen” to this article. I too suffer every time someone leaves our church. But I have seen the positive outcomes of unaligned people leaving. The first and biggest departure of folks happened just a little over a year into my tenure — and it was dramatic, 10 or 12 people, most of whom held leadership roles (very tightly), walked out (and talked loudly and broadly in the process). They had agreed before searching for a pastor that they would commit to growth. Of course, when the growth-promoting pastor was called, it didn’t go the way they expected it to, and I made some mistakes in the way I approached change with them. Long story shortish, it was very hard to see those folks leave, though other parishioners who rose up to lead expressed relief at their departure. Now I see that their leaving was the only way we could establish a new vision, identify new leaders, and embrace our mission. Painful but true.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 21, 2014 at 6:05 am

      Connie thanks for this. And thanks for your humility. I see a lot of self-reflection in your attitude. That makes for great leadership.

  41. […] 7 Reasons You Should Invite People To Leave Your Church Even Though It Scares You – Carey Nieuwhof […]

  42. Josh Gaudreau on June 18, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Wow, seems like you have a pretty strange idea about what church is supposed to be; If you said asking paid staff to leave for those reasons I would agree with you 100%, but laypeople are a different matter altogether. A pastor should shepherd all those God has placed in their care: the healthy and the sick sheep, the “right” people and the “wrong” people. If Christ hadn’t done that for us, where would we all be now!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 18, 2014 at 9:07 pm

      Josh…appreciate the feedback. And thanks for signing what appears to be your real name. Even if we disagree, we’re people (so many people who disagree comment under a pseudonym).

      We might just see this differently. My test isn’t what makes me better off, but what makes everyone better off. Sometimes they are better served by another church – really.

    • Diane Riddell on June 19, 2014 at 11:03 pm

      I totally agree with you.

    • chris on July 6, 2018 at 8:31 am

      yes Dianne, yes Josh

  43. Wednesday Link List | Thinking Out Loud on June 18, 2014 at 6:28 am

    […] Ouch! A Canadian North Point affiliate pastor offers seven reasons you should suggest some people should leave your church. […]

  44. Charles Hodsdon on June 16, 2014 at 10:11 am

    I’ve been the guy who was all but asked to leave, in fact I has
    happened twice in my ministry experience. Once was while I was a student pastor, our church got a new senior pastor, and our approaches to ministry just didn’t match up. The other was a church where the pastor and I (the family ministries director) were very much on the same page, but it was a different page than the board of deacons, so we both left. In both instances, things just got more and more awkward because the people in positions of authority didn’t want to have the conversation you suggest.

    It would have blessed me to have someone sit down and say,
    “Charlie, we can see that you have a lot of passion, and some great gifts,
    but God has given us a responsibility, and after prayerful consideration of your ideas, we feel strongly that to carry out that responsibility we need to go with Plan A, and you pushing Plan B is actually a distraction. We’d love to see your energy and gifts used to Plan A, but if you can’t do that, then we think you should find a place that wants plan B, and make it happen. You’ll be happier and we’ll be able to focus on where we think God wants our efforts to be.”

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 18, 2014 at 9:02 pm

      Charlie I know we’ve tracked a bit. Thanks for sharing more of your story and I’m so sorry it turned out this way. I love the way you framed the conversation that never happened that way. I hope you get the chance to be that graceful moving forward. Thanks…and again, sorry!

  45. SpecKay on June 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Great blog post — engaging and daring. But I think your math is off. I think it was nearly 1%, not less than .001%, who unsubscribed.

  46. Paul Wilkinson on June 14, 2014 at 10:51 am

    So what would that invitation to leave look like? It’s not as easy as asking blog subscribers to affirm their interest.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 18, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      Great question Paul. I’ve sometimes sat people down and said “I can see this is a challenge for you. I want you to know it’s okay to find another church that fits your needs better. Really, it might be the best thing you did.” Often they really are happier at other churches.

  47. Heather Card on June 13, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    I’m a busy person and I’m selective about who I follow on Twitter. I make time to read your blog. It is a blessing and it helps me to grow as a leader. I hope you never quit!

  48. davpettengill on June 13, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Thank you for the challenge to be courageous!

  49. Trevor Stultz on June 13, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Love it! I’d add that many church leaders need to get over themselves, and realize that God doesn’t need any of us to accomplish His will… Yet he wants us to be a part and Loves us immeasurably…

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 18, 2014 at 9:02 pm

      Right on Trevor.

    • chris on July 6, 2018 at 8:35 am

      There are pAstors who are not shepherds and can’t confront and,deal with issues which cause problems. many ppl have left church because of this and I think more will leave. lots prayer needed.

  50. Daniel Indradjaja on June 13, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Awesome Carey… Really good. I feel the same way you did most of the time. This article really helps. Keep blogging coz ur impacting more people than you realise.

  51. Mike Scamihorn on June 13, 2014 at 10:13 am

    When leaders lose followers the voice in our heads scream out our fears of being less than God has told us who we are. Your words of truth speak through the lie and breaks the chains of fear. I’m Learning to speak truth to break the bondage of fear and live in the freedom Jesus died to make available to us. Shame and fear are kingdom killers. Only unfailing love and truth can trump their power. Thanks Carey for speaking words of truth.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 18, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      Glad it connected Mike. Fear of God is from God. But fear generally is not. So true.

  52. Mark Reynolds on June 13, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Great blog!

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