An Open Letter to Those Leaving the Church
In just a few weeks, many people will leave Ridgeview Bible Church; many who will never again be a part of this church. We face this every year, and it is a bittersweet reality for sure. But it is also the nature of Ridgeview. Along with all the wonderful benefits and joys of being a “college church”, there is a sad side too; the time when we say “goodbye” to many who have been a part of the church for 4 years or more.
The following is an open letter to all who have been a part of Ridgeview and are leaving in May or sometime this Summer. It’s a parting pastoral shot, as it were, and my aim is to encourage you in your next chapter. So here we go:
Dear Brother or Sister in Christ,
So the time has come for you to move on. It’s a new chapter in your life, and we are excited for you – excited for what God has next in your journey. Thank you for sharing your time here with us. Thank you for being a part and plugging in and serving others. Thank you for catching the vision to be both a Paul and a Timothy – seeking discipleship for yourself while also seeking to disciple others. We’re grateful for your work here, and trust that God will continue bringing fruit from it long after you have gone.
You might not know this, but when you arrived in Chadron 4 years ago (or 5 or 6 🙂 ) the elders prayed hard and often for you. We prayed that during your short time here you would grow in your understanding of, and confidence in, the gospel. We prayed that you would grow in your walk with Jesus. We prayed that you would come to see church as more than a Sunday thing, but a 24/7 family. We prayed that you wouldn’t let college destroy your faith. We prayed. And here you are, at the other end of this chapter. We hope that your time here has been good for your soul, and good in a lasting way for your life.
If we could say one final thing – one last attempt to encourage you – it would be this: be determined and intentional about finding a new church in your new city or town. Find a church that loves the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, loves God’s people and God’s mission and is centered on God’s Word. Don’t compromise on those essentials.
Having said that, keep in mind that churches look different in different places. I don’t think you should search for a church that looks just like Ridgeview. You need a church that looks like the Bride of Christ. And, by God’s grace, she is beautiful wherever she is found. And while there are no perfect churches, there are many healthy ones. So find a local church that loves God, loves his people and loves his Word.
When you do find a church like that, go all-in. Don’t be afraid to dive right in the deep end. Don’t merely go to church; be the church. We get it – sometimes it is hard to re-engage. But just do it. Roll up your sleeves and get involved. Look hard for a Paul and find a Timothy or two. Serve the body of Christ right away.
Even if you weren’t very involved here, get involved there. No Christian is called to stay on the periphery of church life. We’re all called to be the church.
If you need anything from us, please don’t hesitate to call. But we hope that you won’t need us for very long. And that is not because we don’t love you – it is because we do. We love you enough that we want to see you in a new local church, with new pastors and new brothers and sisters in Christ who will be there for you when you need help.
Thank you for your time at Ridgeview. May you leave here set on making much of the name of Jesus everywhere that you go.
And feel free to visit us from time to time. We will miss you.
Pastor Mike, for the Ridgeview Elder Team