The Plumb Line, by Jennifer LeClaire

Want to receive The Plumb Line by email? Sign up here
malicious gossip
( )

Jennifer LeClaire is now sharing her reflections and revelations through Walking in the Spirit. Listen at

Over the weekend I discovered a new rumor about why I left a certain church some years ago. Yes, apparently people there are still talking about me years later. I wish I could have told the congregation why I chose to leave, but the Holy Spirit told me to “go in peace” and I obeyed.

Unfortunately, the leadership didn’t like my reasons and apparently felt threatened. After all, I was highly visible in the church and people would ask questions about my sudden and unexplained departure.

People did ask questions, and they were given all sorts of false answers. Gossip and rumors prevailed and, as the saying goes, rumors generally grow deformed as they travel. Years later, the rumors are deformed into a state that is utterly ridiculous.

When Hugs Turn to Hate
For all the many articles about how not to leave a church the wrong way, can we take a moment to explore what not to do when someone leaves a church?

I’m not the only one who has been chased down with ugly rumors after leaving a church. I wrote a post on my Facebook page asking for examples and many people shared stories of how hugs turned into hate when they decided to move on. How that must grieve the Holy Spirit!

Pastors, attacking people for leaving your church reflects poorly on you. Your congregation wants a loving shepherd who blesses rather than curses (see James 3:10). When people decide to leave your church, don’t tell them they will lose their anointing and miss their destiny. Don’t curse them. Don’t tell them they are the problem. Don’t tell them they won’t find another place where they can use their gifts. And when they do leave, don’t make subtle comments that become the seeds of malicious gossip.

Believe me, as a pastor I get it. I know what it’s like to watch people come in and out—people who said they wanted to serve alongside you and help build the church only to leave after you’ve invested your time and effort into them. I know what it’s like to watch people backslide into sin and stop coming to church when they were once important leaders in the ministry. I understand the frustration of the setbacks that often come when people leave the church.

Don’t Go Into Attack Mode
But pastors, don’t go into attack mode. If you are walking in integrity, treating people with love, providing care to the congregation, and otherwise fulfilling your God-given responsibilities as a pastor, then you have no reason to go on the offense. If you are truly a servant to your members, you don’t have to fear that one influential person leaving will cause a mass exodus.

Pastors, when people leave your church the congregation is watching you. If you attack people who leave—whether it’s directly, through seeded rumors to your leadership, or indirectly through messages from the pulpit, it reflects poorly on your stewardship and your character. It reveals the anger and bitterness in your heart. And you will probably lose more sheep because no one wants an angry, bitter pastor who can’t accept that the Holy Spirit sometimes moves people on.

When someone leaves your church—especially someone who is a leader or in a visible position—it’s time to reflect on your ministry, not attack the person. If possible, speak with the person about why they are leaving. If the exiting member won’t talk to you, it’s likely there is either a problem in their heart or a problem in your church. But you can’t assume it’s the exiting member’s issue alone.

When people start leaving, it’s not time to go on the attack—it’s time to pray and ask God if there’s anything going on in your church that’s causing people to leave. You may be the most loving, caring pastor in the world but you may not see the church cliques or the actions of power-hungry leaders who mistreat the sheep. You may not see the spiritual abuse going on behind the scenes. Again, when people start leaving the church, don’t malign their character—check your own and check your church.

This weekend I also saw someone from this church I left in a restaurant. She told me, “I don’t care what they say. I still love you.” How sad. Pastors, don’t let ex-members of your congregation tell the same story. We are all members of the body of Christ. And believers, don’t engage in the rumor mill. Refuse to listen to it or spread it. Pastors, show people love while they attend your church and show them love if they leave. If you can’t do that, it may be time to step down as pastor.

Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including Did the Spirit of God Say That? You can email Jennifer at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Did you enjoy this blog? Click here to receive it by email.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Rev. Samuel Rodriguez was the first Hispanic pastor in history to pray at a presidential inauguration.

    At Trump Inauguration, Charismatic Leaders Pray Boldly in Jesus' Name. Is This Foreshadowing a New Day in America?

    It was an amazing day to let religious freedom ring in America.

  • Pastor Jim Garlow in a file photo shown praying.

    Conservative Christian Leaders Gather in DC, Calling Trump's Election an Answer to Prayer

    "Although the news media is predicting protests, what I'm seeing is that everyone is abuzz ...

  • Donald Trump certainly needs your prayers.

    Why You Must Pray for Donald Trump

    Here are eight ways I plan to intercede for President Trump regularly.

  • When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what was going on!

    Jennifer LeClaire Releases Urgent Prophetic Warning Over Washington, D.C.

    When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what ...

  • Here's a prophetic word for Washington, D.C.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Raising Up Daniels in DC

    I believe we're on the precipice of a Third Great Awakening the Lord spoke to my heart about in ...

  • Does any of this reflect what's going on in your marriage?

    9 Characteristics of a Healthy Sexual Relationship for a Believer

    A healthy sexual relationship for a Christian couple takes effort, and it's worth working for.

  • Churches don't address this topic affecting women.

    The Secret Sorrow Women Carry

    This woman breaks the silence about a taboo subject to help restore many women.

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit