There have been several different seasons of my life where I have been a “church hopper.” There were the first months in a new town where my family bounced from church to church, trying to find what felt right for our family. There were my years in college, following friends to different campuses of different worship styles on Sunday mornings, trying to figure out where I felt most at home. There was the time I felt frustrated by the community I was in, and I visited other churches to see if it was really my church I was wrestling with, or maybe it was just my own self.
Many believers (especially millennials like myself) are church hoppers.
Noelle Hill recently shared “4 Lessons From a Serial Church Hopper” on Relevant, and she says she “discovered some important things.”
- “Church is about relationships.” It’s easy for us to think of church as just the physical building where worship services are held, but Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 that “ where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Church is the people, not the place. “Simply hopping from service to service without connection does a true disservice to all that a church offers,” says Hill. “There is freedom, depth and life to be experienced when you throw yourself into a trusted, safe community.”
- “It will be exactly what you make it.” Sometimes, church hopping is a great idea. If my family had stayed at the first church we visited after moving to town, we wouldn’t have known what other communities were around us and wouldn’t have found the place and the people we ultimately all fell in love with at our church now. We made our church hopping an intentional search to find a church home where we could put down roots, and that’s exactly what happened. “Don’t let church-hopping slip through the cracks without really understanding why you do it,” warns Hill.
- “Beware of the pendulum swing.” I have several friends who attend multiple churches, and they often talk about how different the styles or congregations are. I have other friends who were hurt by one kind of church, so they fled and found a totally different style of church instead. I can tell that what they’re after is balance and a place that feels like home, but they’re really just ricocheting from one end of the spectrum to the other. “The thought of committing to another church body sounds risky, so they pendulum swing and neglect commitment altogether,” Hill says. It’s so easy to fall into the pattern of just bouncing around once one church doesn’t feel “right” anymore, but it’s something to be cautious of.
- “Church doesn’t make us more holy.” Just because someone attends church regularly doesn’t make them a better believer than someone who church hops. It’s easy to feel that way when we sense a lack of commitment or consistency from others, but “realistically, our church practices are not what make us holy,” Hill says. “I think a proper response as the people of God is to love, regardless of where or how often someone may attend a given church.”
Ultimately, church is about gathering with other believers to worship our God and give him glory and praise. When we come together as the body of Christ, we are reminded of what our focus should be: loving God and loving people.
As Crosswalk.com contributor David Roach writes in his “10 Reasons to be Involved in a Church,” there are many blessings about coming together in the context of a church. “Gathering with a church encourages believers to love others and do good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).”
Who doesn’t need that kind of encouragement in their lives? “There is a unique joy that accompanies singing God's praises with an entire congregation of Christ followers,” Roach says. The more we get to know those followers week after week of coming to church consistently, the stronger our bonds will be as a community, and the greater our love will be as a body of believers for one another and for our God.
Like Hill said in the conclusion of her article, “Instead of fighting one another about the rights and wrongs, let’s follow in the footsteps of Jesus and love each other into a real relationship—on Sundays, and every other day of the week, too.”
Publication date: September 22, 2016
Rachel Dawson is the editor of BibleStudyTools.com