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Church Hopping

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August 7, 2019 : Is Church Hopping Okay? Response to last week's topic.

Last week, Pastor Jake posed the question, "Is there a problem with church hopping?" Many of you responded and the discussion was great! Now, I'd like to respond via vlog, as we move from blog to vlog in our discussion.

 

July 31, 2019 : Topic Introduction

I grew up going to the same church every - single - week (ok, almost every week).

My family did not church hop. We didn’t know what that even meant. Until...my brother and I went to college and my parents were empty nesters. It was a new season. Time for a change for all of us. So we all went our separate ways in our different states on the hunt to find our new church homes.

Throughout college, I would just hop from one church to the next learning from different pastors, being drawn to certain bands over others, and analyzing youth ministry strategies as I thought through my future in ministry leadership. 

In college, I honestly never found a single church to call home in So Cal. I enjoyed hearing the Word at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Sunday mornings from their preachers, joined a small group Bible Study at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church and rocked out in worship Sunday evenings with artist Todd Proctor at RockHarbor Church in Costa Mesa.

But as of the last 14 years though, no church hopping for me. I have been at Christ’s Greenfield most of those Sundays. However, this past summer I visited three different churches on vacation, which got me thinking, “If I wasn’t a pastor, would I just hop from one church to the next on Sundays as I please?” “Would I finally land at one church over others?” “Is it wrong to church hop?”

We as your pastors do interact with new faces Sunday after Sunday that tell us after worship, “We are checking your church out today...we’re church hopping!”

So for this first OverTime blog, I am going to ask our community a question to invite each of you as readers to respond with your thoughts before we give our own response to this question next week on a vlog (video + blog = vlog).

Here is the QUESTION: Is there a problem with church hopping?

Your turn...let’s hear it! Ready. Set. Respond.

We want to have conversations with you, here's how...

 

13 Comments

We have never been a church hopper but having moved to a new area and having "shopped" the area churches and not finding the right fit or connection we are desperately seeking, we are turning into hoppers by revisiting churches hoping another (2nd or 10th) visit will feel differently, better somehow. We are struggling what to do next? Stay at a church that is closed-off to newcomers, claims they are welcoming but when we actively try to get involved they really aren't. Do we keep hoping it gets better over time, or do we keep shopping for what we know what want/need...We want to feel inspired, feel the presence of God (what we feel at CGLC)....
Church hopping is normal when you move from another state to a new community. We attended several different Lutheran churches around our area before joining Christ's Greenfield. One was ELCA, another was Wisconsin synod and the third one was also different from Missouri synod. We chose Christ's Greenfield because it was Missouri synod and because of the awesome sermons and the wonderful pastors.
Having been baptized in the Lutheran faith and attending church and Sunday School from the time I was 3 years old, it would have been unthinkable to leave my church family. However, having been raised in a Bible study environment, I did leave my church family because of a vote in Minnespolis, MN, on August 21, 2009. There were only two of us who did find another church, after seeing 5 scriptures that it was the right thing to do. I wrote a letter to my church family, the pastor, board of deacons & the secretary and asked that they consider what God had to say in His word about what qualities a priest/minister should possess in leading his congregation. The interim pastor called me and said that "we have come to a new place which is love". How easy and comfortable for me to have stayed with all my friends and church family. Church hopping? Not me--unless the LCMS church does not remain faithful to honor God's word. My prayers for LCMS continue in that regard, and my prayers also continue for the church that would ignore God's word. Thanks to you pastors for your faithfulness in teaching the truth from the Bible and pray there will be no church hopping from our gifted pastors either. Smile.
Me and Gene have been at this church going on four years. We were looking for sermons preached the love of Jesus and you sure do Jesus Jesus and how Jesus died for our sins and we are forgiven because He did. We love it here and we love all our Pastors who show how they love Jesus. Hope this is ok what I wrote./ Have a Blessed day.

Yours in Christ,
Marianne and Gene
The biggest challenge I see with church hopping is how that makes it difficult to build relationships with other brothers and sisters in Christ. I have found great strength and support in that. There is nothing wrong with visiting other places of worship. Sometimes that can trigger ideas on how to improve some things at Christ's Greenfield. There are many great churches that have various styles but still keep Jesus at the center. Recently our family has experienced some tough times. The incredible support we received from our church family has been amazing. It reminded us that we don't just go to church, we ARE the church. We could not have built those wonderful relationships if we were hopping around and we are forever grateful for that.
Bob and I have been in Mesa for 33 years. During that time we have been members in 3 churches. For various reasons there came a time where we felt we needed to look for a new church home, and would visit several churches. But each of these 3 churches we called home had one thing in common- they all helped me further my journey and grow in my faith. As I go through the different seasons of my life, I believe God has sent me to where he knew I needed to be at that time in my life. Each of these churches and pastors have had different strengths and have challenged me in
different ways. I feel so blessed that God has led me to these 3 pastors and faith communities in the last 33 years, and I am grateful for everyone of them. God is good.
I think the better question is "why does the person church hop"? If a family or person is looking for a good fit community, then yes its understandable to maybe "date" a few different churches until they find the good fit. But if a person leaves a church because something was said or something was done that offended the person, then that issue should be addresses rather than leave a church. We are all human and we make mistake...so does our church! Rather than leave because of an offense, try to resolve the issue. Otherwise you are likely to find the same offense in another church as well!
Would you call us church hoppers? We go to Christ Greenfield when we can. We mainly go to Peace Lutheran, but do frequently go elsewhere. Hearing God's Word as much as possible is the real point! Fellowship is great, good worship is important but being in His Word (and Sacraments) must be the overwhelming objective. If you have to go outside a single church, so be it.
In addition to the great comments above, it also difficult and confusing for church leaders/pastors if people hop around. Hebrews 13:17
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. If people hop, how can leaders know whose souls they are accountable for?
Don't tell Trey Cox, but I am terrible at math. I had the same math teacher each day, week in and week out, and many times for an entire school year. My math teachers were very patient with my finger-counting, my peers were very helpful, and the lesson plans and homework were found in a single textbook. I eventually learned enough math to graduate, and (according to me) I get by in life and am mostly functional in my vocation.

But, suppose each week I visited a different school, nervously sat down in the back of different classrooms, surrounded myself with people who didn’t know me, and tried to follow different lesson plans - all from a different teacher; hopefully following the textbook. I’d probably still be in high school.

In a very broad sense, this is how I view church community: find a good teacher that preaches God’s truth and surround yourself with peers who will help you get to the finish line (and you help them, too). If I made a habit out of “church hopping”, even if it were to visit other LCMS congregations, I wouldn’t be very good at building and maintaining close relationships with the people I need in my life, and who need me in their life.

Romans 12:4-5

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

That's enough out of me for today. See you all Sunday!
Depends on the reason(s) for the hopping. Is it to find a church that fits your family dynamic or worship style, sense of community, then fine. Could it conceivably be to avoid community, to just worship and leave, no commitments? Much like dive-bombing an opinion on social media while hiding behind the relative anonymity or texting instead of face-to-face relationship building? Not so fine. I read an article about the transient nature of society and applying that to church hopping., moving on to the “next best thing”. Not actually committing because their expectations are not met. What I notice about that type of thinking is that Jesus has been removed from the center and replaced with “me”.
Deep question! I can argue both ways.
If I'm church hopping to discover new ways to worship or outreach, then great value to my LCMS church. Bring ideas home and share. Or if I'm curious what other churches teach and I'm solid in my belief in grace alone saves me ... Ok.
However if I'm "escaping" my responsibility to use my talents, then maybe not ok. Sometimes, to be honest, church hopping gave me an excuse not to get deeply involved in service. Or a convenient way to stay anonymous and be a "Sunday Christian" only. Feeding myself and not serving others.
No it's not ok to church hop, if your goal isn't finding a new church home, or becoming involved/plugged in with a specific ministry or group another church is involved in that your church doesn't have. You should get plugged in and start serving in your home church. I think that if you hop from place to place it gives you the freedom to not commit, not live up to your full potential for serving and using your spiritual gifts, and gives you the ability to be invisible. We're not supposed to be so noncommittal. We're supposed to serve together, and become one unit, one body of Christ. We should be coming along side one another to help, encourage, and grow in the faith. We should be holding each other accountable. (Hebrews 10:24-25; James 5:16). I don't think we can do those things if we don't have a relationship with the people we're worshiping with. It's almost like dipping your feet into the water testing out all the "pools" instead of just getting in to cool off and have fun, or scarier yet to help save someone in a pool that's drowning when your spiritual gift is being a lifeguard.

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