Q. As a new Christian it dismays me to see other Believers moving from one Church to another for no apparently valid reason. Why is this so? Has it always been the practice?
A. Historically, after World War 2 the world’s value system and morals took a nosedive with the emergence of ‘Free Thinking’, open promiscuity and anti-God cultures. The atrocities people faced during those terrible years and its apparent end, brought in a new code of ‘Enjoy yourself, It’s later than you think,’ as one popular song put it. That’s when church-hopping emerged too.
The reasons for this phenomenon are many and we list a few:
An Eruption of Evangelism The 1950s saw people move away from dead orthodoxy to Bible-based Churches. This second surge of the outpouring of the Spirit that began at the turn of the Century was good. But numerous cults, and godly, but unlearned, splinter groups got onto the bandwagon too. These opened the door of ‘What’s in it for me?’ Hedonism (pleasure seeking) hit the world and also filtered into the Church at large. If people don’t ‘endure sound doctrine’ – 2 Tim 4:3 – and commit fully to Christ, they brand the pure Word of God as too strict, legalistic, and simply find the huge arena of places which accept and offer compromise.
Worldliness – a forbidden word today – crept into the Church. A generation steeped in entertainment demands it in the Church too, and weak leadership complies for the sake of being ‘seeker friendly’. Biblical standards are soon replaced by worldly norms which kill Christian commitment. When sound leadership call unbiblical lifestyle and activity to account, indifferent Believers ‘vote with their feet’ and leave for places that accommodate gross mediocrity and ungodly lifestyle. 1 Jn 2:15-17 comments powerfully on the dangers of loving what the world is and offers.
Ignorance Many Christians don’t know that, at conversion, God places them in a local part of the Church Universal, as it pleases Him – 1 Cor12:18. It is in the Body of Christ that their salvation is confirmed, developed and worked out. They may well find people they can’t get along with, doctrine that encroaches on their immature ways and norms, and the hardships of growing up in Christ. That’s why Paul urges Timothy to ‘endure hardness’ – 2 Tim 2:3; being in the Church is not a social extravaganza; God’s people are being instructed and disciplined in warfare and deployed in His army to rescue the lost and withstand the evil one.
And people often don’t know that, when they came to Christ, they gave Him their rights and their full permission to direct them as He sees fit. Less than this is not Christianity or new birth. Ask church-hoppers and you’ll be amazed at their immature reasons for moving.
Spiritual Consumerism God gave Man a free will so that he could choose to serve and worship Him; never to ignore His will and ways – or the reason He has placed him in a particular Church. But Man has abused his free will to satisfy his own designs and even lusts. He seeks out a Church that pleases himself, makes him comfortable and feeds his perceived needs. So he will church-hop until he finds ‘the right one for him’; and change his Church like he changes his favourite supermarket. Unbiblical; dangerous and grossly selfish!
We’re not in a Church primarily for our needs; of course God cares for, feeds and develops His people through the Gift Ministries of Christ; BUT we are primarily there FOR GOD and what He wants!
What to Do if You’re Unhappy Where You Are
- Don’t make hasty or emotional decisions; they’re invariably the wrong ones. Get your heart and attitude right – towards the Lord and towards the folk, especially the leadership, where you are;
- Get reconciled with those who offend you – Matt 5:24, 18:15-20 – and speak to your leadership;
- Apply yourself in your God-given ministry; consider that He has placed you there for His purpose;
- Consider what your leaving will do to the Body – in the light of 1 Cor 3:17, 6: 19-20;
If you have a dispute of doctrine which cannot be reconciled, then leave, but only on a fully godly basis – because Satan is out to hurt and defile the Body of Christ; NEVER be a party to that!