What's Wrong With Church Hopping?
Church hopping is the practice of moving from church to church in search of "the one" that fits our idea of the perfect (or almost) church. This could be doctrinally based (the mythological 'sound' church), or it could be program based (are you going to babysit my kids endlessly?). It could be based on the median age of the congregation. Or perhaps it is even based on location or beauty of the grounds. Church hopping is mostly done in the cover of night ... people just disappear. There are no attempts at reaching an agreement. No opportunity to practice the golden rule. No approaching a brother or sister to discuss the issues calmly. Just a spiritual U-Haul as they take their stuff and go to the church down the road without comment. Church hoppers are often recruiters. Many are busy communicating with their old friends back at the old church about how they ought to come with them. It is not enough that in their misery and personal unhappiness they have to go to another church (which, by the way, is often a short-term relationship ... a rebound church that will also say goodbye to them in the night at some point down the road!). They also want to bring a crowd with them. Now let me ask this: Where is the logic in leaving behind a group of people, and then calling that group of people to come where you are? Ahhh... they are only going to call SOME of the people to come where they now worship. Actually, they do not want to practice agape with the unlovely, the wrong, the under committed, the unqualified, and those they envy .... they want a following! That's it. It's almost a call for their adoring fans to follow them wherever they go! Church hopping has turned the Christian community into the image of Goldilocks, who can't seem to find a chair, a bowl of porridge, or a bed to her liking without trying every one of them. Without loyalty, and without concern for the souls left behind, they seek comfort and ease. Although we might want to couch this church hopping in some softer imagery (trying to find a church like we had growing up, wanting to be more comfortable, looking for some group that has a stronger Biblical commitment, my conscience won't let me stay), it all comes out sounding like a personals ad. Wanted: one church just like me. The truth is that the Kingdom confronts our comfort at every level. The "love chapter" is not all puff and fluff ... love believes all things, endures all things .. love never fails. Loving people is tough work ... it demands patience, tolerance, and it even demands accepting things that we do not normally feel comfortable accepting. What's wrong with church hopping? *It works against everything for which the Kingdom stands. *It exchanges agape love for personal preference. *It turns down the 'one another' passages, in favor of a search for self satisfaction. *It decides that some other Christians are just not worth our time and fellowship. *It wounds the very people who ought to get the best of our love and support. *It insults the people left behind - they are evidently too ignorant to leave! *It continues to wound the church through ongoing recruiting. *It makes another church feel that they are growing, and leaves them with emptiness when the hoppers move on. One church I know built a new auditorium to accommodate a flock of hoppers who came their way. When the hoppers moved on, they did not offer to pay for the building. Such is the the nature of church hoppers. *It is a denial of grace both in their own lives, and in the way they treat others. The only good thing about church hopping is that occasionally, someone who has made life miserable for everyone in the church decides to move on to another victim..er...church. That is acceptable to me. Now there are surely exceptions to these ideas ... and I think I know some exceptions. But to me - church hopping is a very anti-church thing to do. In both of his long explicit letters to the Corinthians, Paul never once told a Corinthian to go start another congregation nor to find another congregation. That just about sews it up.