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Why I left Gateway Church

Via Sister Kira Langford

In 2006, a friend and I discussed church and the Christian faith. At that time, I wasn’t attending any church, and I expressed to her my desire to become a part of a community.

My friend had been attending Gateway Church and mentioned it in passing. So, I inquired about it, and the next Sunday, she invited me to attend a service with her.

Honestly, I was hesitant, but my desire to join a faithful church community won. I enjoyed being part of the service, and ever since, I’ve been a member of Gateway Church.

Unfortunately, the time had come for me to move on. My decision had nothing to do with a loss of faith or some scandal but my own personal beliefs.

Gateway Church was a good home, but I craved a smaller, intimate community. Plus, some issues were happening that made me want to distance myself from the church.

Here, I detail my reasons for leaving Gateway Church and the lessons I’ve learned since 2006 as a believer.

Why I left

I’ve wrestled with leaving Gateway Church and starting over somewhere else for two years. I must admit it caused me lots of stress and even shook my faith.

However, my decision to leave was valid, so I had to listen to my inner voice.

Leaving a church was never on my bucket list, and I had to delve into deep prayer for understanding. I guess it all began when I visited my aunt two years ago and attended her church.

It’s a small church with about 500 attendants who are also part of the community. The intimate setup and close bonds made me long for such ties.

I was getting up there in age, and the huge population and massiveness of the Gateway Church were starting to weigh on me. I’d feel uncomfortable thinking about the crowds, parking, and chaos on Sunday.

Hence, I felt so at home attending my aunt’s smaller church. I believe gone are the days when massive gatherings were my heart’s desire. I wanted an intimate church gathering where we all met the pastor and broke bread together.

Main Reasons Why I Left

Here are three main reasons I wanted to leave Gateway Church and join a different place of worship.

1. Superior Inaccessible Leaders

Over the years, Gateway Church has grown in leaps and bounds and now hosts thousands of believers. I guess there has come a time when you can barely meet the senior pastors at the church.

I once wanted to meet one and was told by an assistant to book an appointment. I did as instructed, but I arrived at the church office on the day of my meeting and found it had been canceled. This happened three times until I gave up booking the appointments.

I wondered if the senior pastors were not meeting the congregation anymore. A verse that kept ringing in my mind from Proverbs 11:14: “Where there is no guidance, a people fall, but in the abundance of counselors there is safety.”

2. Economic Disparity

Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, Oh Mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require from you? To acts justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”

I don’t know how to justify the display of wealth at the church by leadership. We can see them dressed in designer clothing and jewelry with their children and spouses. AlsoI’ve observed them buying the latest cars, contributing to economic disparity and inflation in our area.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I find it unethical to display so much wealth, yet part of the congregation is going through hard times. I hardly hear about efforts to reach such people to assist them get back on their feet.

3. Prosperity Gospel

I understand the need to encourage the masses that better days lie ahead. Such sermons give hope for a bright future, one without financial constraints.

However, many mega-churches now focus most sermons only on prosperity, and we rarely get any other crucial teachings. I felt a new relief at my aunt’s church as the pastor taught about forgiveness.

Isaiah 1:18: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.”

Hearing a different sermon that had nothing to do with monetary prosperity, I felt relieved. The focus was on saving our souls by embracing a more forgiving nature.

My Emotional Turmoil

After visiting my aunt, I spent two Sundays at home. That was the first time I’d not attended church since 2006. Even when I was away for work, I’d tune in to the live stream and attend service.

But I didn’t log in this time and spent Sundays doing chores at home. My heart was in turmoil, and I experienced so many emotions.

I think one major emotion I felt was guilt. See, I hadn’t been an avid believer when I joined Gateway Church. I’d attend church occasionally, but Gateway made me a committed Christian.

That explains why I felt so guilty and ashamed to want to leave the one place that taught me about faith. Despite having good reasons to leave, I also felt guilty abandoning my church family, who had been such a significant part of my life.

Communicating My Decision to Leave

I must admit I did think about leaving and not mentioning my exit to the church or my friends. But that was more of a cowardly move.

The best decision was to communicate my reason for exiting the church. Once I was sure I was making the right move and no longer felt intense guilt, I took a few steps. I began scouting for the best small gathering to join in my area and call home.

In addition, I wrote a letter to my favorite junior pastor at Gateway Church expressing my reasons to leave. I knew he’d call me, and when he did, we talked about many wonderful topics. Best of all, he blessed my decision to seek a smaller church community that met my current needs and promised to keep in touch.

Next, I organized a gathering of my friends, and we had a chat about my decision to leave the church. Surprisingly, they took it well, and I discovered some had the same feelings and had been too afraid to explore them.

Transitioning

It’s been several months since I joined a new church, and the change has been significant. But I admit it was the best decision, and I feel my faith blooming. The pastor at my new church is welcoming, and I feel I’ve found my new home.

Kenyalogue Writer

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