Church Hopping may be popular, but is it healthy for your growth?
- A church hopper is someone who desires not to settle at any particular local church, but would rather hop from church to church to suit their yearnings and/or, someone who finds themselves at a different church every couple of years for reasons beyond relocation, doctrine and philosophy of ministry.
Hop Till You Drop - 5 reasons to avoid church hopping and commit to a local church
Church Hopping may be popular, but is it healthy for your growth?
Definition: A church hopper is someone who desires not to settle at any particular local church, but would rather hop from church to church to suit their yearnings and/or, someone who finds themselves at a different church every couple of years for reasons beyond relocation, doctrine and philosophy of ministry.
Here are 5 reasons to avoid church hopping and get committed to a local church.
1. The "Hop" will cause you to loose Accountability.
(Luke 17:3, James 5:16)
We all need help walking the straight and narrow as we battle the sins that easily entangle us. Yet all too often we think that real accountability comes from our small group of likeminded friends. Indeed, like minded friends are just that, like minded. And many times you'll find friends who have the same sin issues as you do. It’s very easy for groups of likeminded people to harbor sin disguised as righteous indignation. We need the diversity of the whole body to see what were blind to and to reveal what we refuse to uncover and admit to. People like to "Hop" because it keeps them from being accountable.
2. The "Hop" will cause you to loose Consistency in Teaching.
Context is the ruler of the kingdom of interpretation. Without it you could find yourself unable to define simple words like "point", "pet", "all", etc. All too often people lull to sleep during expository sermons, yet expository sermons is exactly what we need. Christians need to sit under preaching that exposes the meaning of the text. Pastors need to give the immediate context, greater context, grammatical context, authorial context, historical context and whatever contexts is needed to properly understand and explain a given passage. Yet when you hop, you lose out on that.
When Pastor A from Church A is preaching on marriage. And Pastor B from Church B is preaching through Joshua, you won’t get a clear picture of either. Rather bits of information that lead to half understood truths.
Example: A simple logo, cut into 4 equal pieces is given to 4 different individuals. They are told to draw their particular piece of the logo independent of each other. When you put the pieces together you'll end up with a slightly distorted logo. Now let’s imagine that the logo was a complicated one. One with many connection points and tons of detail. How much more distorted would the logo be?
This is what happens when we try to learn from too many teachers. We get pieces of the logo from different people with differing doctrines and differing perspectives with differing emphasis. That will lead to a distorted understanding of scripture. Christians need a consistent flow of God's Word over the course of years that will enable us to have a solid picture of scripture.
3. The "Hop" will cause you to lose a sense of CommUnity.
(Acts 2:42-47, Gal 6:2)
Here is one area that I think many churches have dropped the ball. Pastors should be intentional about giving their people a right understanding of church. When congregations see church as something they go to and not something they are, community relationships take a hit. Instead of being one unified body, we are pieces of the body who just so happen to see each other on Sunday. (All the fingers gather over hear and all the toes over there.) Church hopping adds fuel to this fire. There is no community when people are constantly moving in and out. Not only that, but how is a Pastor supposed to care for a person who has no commitment what-so-ever to their particular church? When most pastors are faced with a time sensitive choice of ministering to a committed member or a come-and-go attendee, 9 times out of 10 the pastor will serve the committed member first. The hopper will usually see that as unfair, but in reality its unfair to demand the attention of a Pastor whom you have no loyalty to. A community looks out for each other. The body feeds the body so that the it has the strength to sustain impact in the greater community.
4. The "Hop" will cause the church to lose out on Committed Service.
(1 Peter 4:10-11)
When a person has no commitment to a local church, they rob the church of their particular gift. Every Christian has a gift from the Lord. However, when you hop from church to church, no one is able to benefit from the gift that God has given you to serve the body with. Christ has said that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), so not only do you rob the church, but you also rob yourself of God’s blessing.
"We've created a system that glorifies the clergy and marginalized the laity…We've become "clergified"… All religions tend to create a class of people who are above others so 1) they can revel in that and 2) the rest of us can say it's their job. Christianity was started without any of those structures, and ended up like so many false religions do when they create a ministry caste structure. When we see real movements of God take off, they happen when people are free… ministry is something that has to be owned by all of us… Pastors and congregations are in a co-dependent relationship… We've created a clergy system with a superman syndrome. The pastor thinks it's their job to rescue the church--and they get affirmed for doing it. So we get our identity from doing things the people should be doing… I tell pastors all the time to stop enabling that."
The 80/20 rule is fostered by church hopping.
5. The "Hop" is really a Reflection of the Heart.
What is it that ultimately causes a church hopper to hop? A lack of loyalty to a local church is a clear sign of a selfish heart. People want what they want. And they want it in the way that they want it. So they will sacrifice God's plan for Christian growth in order to appease their church going desires. Let’s not let sin cause us to avoid the gathering of the body on Sunday mornings and during the week. Christ abolished the power of sin on the cross for all who believe. Let’s act on that Holy Spirit empowered privilege and fight the urge to be selfish. Let’s be mindful of the corporate nature of church and look to serve others and not only serve ourselves.
Not only this, but a major reason many pastors leave the pastorate is because of the lackadaisical, critical and non-committal attitudes of people in the church. Hoppers are usually unaware of the impact they have on the heart and mind of the Pastors they so readily bail on.
Here are some bad reasons people give as to why they church hop
1. "I like to see how different churches worship."
Attending services at different churches is a good thing. Do it. You may bring some good feedback back to your church staff. However, if it causes you to rob your local church of service, blessing, accountability, etc. don't do it. In today’s day and age, a Christian can fully commit to a local church and still have the freedom to see how other churches do their thing. Go to an alternate service, but don't rob your church in the process.
2. "I want a church that has more people my age."
All too often young people underestimate the blessing of seasoned wisdom. There are certain things in this world that only a seasoned Christian can speak to. The book of 1 John speaks loosely to this. Young people are ignorant of much, yet think they have a "monopoly" on biblical understanding. I've seen first-hand a group of young people miss the mark when it came to a serious issue in their midst. Yet it took a seasoned believer to set the whole group straight. If you want to be around people your age, start a small group, but don't avoid the "grey hair" all together. You could be missing out on blessing in the form of discipleship.
3. "I don't like the music"
This is no reason to "hop". Is the music Christ exulting? Are the lyrics doctrinally sound? Does the atmosphere allow you to sing to one another? If the answer is yes to these questions your likely just being selfish. I like rap music. Especially doxological rap like Shai Linne's latest album: "Lyrical Theology Pt 2: Doxology". However, I can get my rap fill in the car on the ride home. Churches try hard to appease their people sonically. Let's not "pu-pu" their attempt to please all its people while still maintaining biblical fidelity. It’s not as easy as many think. People are all too ready to up and leave a church based on this reason. How about having a sit-down with the Pastors and seeing why they do what they do before making a judgment on their taste of music.
4. "The people there are like ingrown toe-nails!"
This is a very hard thing to break in a church. Often people are unfriendly and uncaring to visitors. Many times people have a hard time assimilating into the church body. Ingrown churches need an overhaul from the top down, but in the meantime try to join any small groups that the church offers. If that’s already being done, try serving in a particular ministry. Get to know people who are "under the skin" of the church. Be patient, speak to leadership and pray that your presence will help to spark a change in the culture of that particular body. I once heard Paul Tripp say "How will the church get mature Pastors if the immature ones keep quitting?" The same principle can be said of members. Hang in there and make positive change.
5. "There’s nothing for my teen."
This hurts my heart! Why is it that we need to cater to every age and identity group in the church? Why do we need a ministry for every walk of life in order for people to feel comfortable? This is one of the reasons for the church being a bunch of individualized body parts spread abroad. We need more youth Pastors who understand the value of true corporate fellowship. We need Children's directors who desire to prepare kids for true corporate worship. Teens are able to sit in classes for 45 minutes and learn. Why does the church feel the need to entertain them so? I think that more churches should "mix the berries" more often. Let the younger serve and fellowship with the older informally. Then, they will more likely come to appreciate worshiping alongside each other. This also fosters a sense of usefulness to the older generation. They may not be what they used to be, but they can help guide young people in a solid biblical direction. In like manner, young people can open the sometimes stubborn eyes of the older generation by being godly examples and good disciples.