What do churches, bars, and college football teams have in common? So many uncommitted people love to hop around and not stay with just one. People hop around bars to find better people and better times. Bandwaggoners hop around from team to team because they want to be seen as winners and never a loser. I think a lot of people would even family-hop if they could.
Why do people hop churches? Some are all about the entertainment and performance. If a better Jesus-show comes to town, they go to that. Others church hop because they run from their problems and broken relationships. But the biggest problem is usually with themselves since they never deal with sin. Others church hop simply because they’re never satisfied or content with anything.
Church hopping is okay…if we have a wrong view of the church. If the church is just a show, a time to be fed, or a time to sing…then there’s no big deal when it comes to church hopping. But if the church really is to be a picture of the kingdom of Christ, a community that commits to one another, a family that ministers to their community and to one another, and a flock that truly nutures one another in Christ…then church hopping is deeply evil, never satisfying, and always misses the point.
If we allow our people to church-hop without addressing it, then they’ll never truly know many things. They’ll never truly or fully know community, forgiveness, perseverance, endurance, covenant, steadfastness, ministry, maturity, transformation, trust, faith, patience, long suffering, mercy, grace, love, etc.
Youth pastors, this is huge for teenagers. We get teenagers coming in our student ministry all the time who are from other churches. Here’s how I handle it. I always tell them that our church isn’t about stealing students from their churches. I always tell them that they need to be worshipping Christ at the church where their family is. I always tell them that we’re not a perfect church, a perfect youth ministry, nor do we have perfect students. I don’t kick them out or run them off, but I am very honest with them. I also always try to affirm and celebrate what church they are already going to…if it is a Christ-exalting church.
I encourage every student to remain at their church where their family is. If they don’t have a church home, then I encourage them to find a church home (hopefully ours). To join the church, become a member, get involved in a ministry, make the church their priority, grow in Christ, and serve Him there.
So there you have it. Church-hopping. One of my top pet-peeves. But far more than frustrating to me, I sincerely hurt for those who are caught up in it. If they won’t experience the highs and lows/ups and downs that every church has…then they just won’t get to fully experience life in Christ (Eph 1:22-23).
Here’s another article I wrote on it:Church as Local and Universal