Wednesday, December 22, 2010

You Can’t Build a Church on Church Hoppers

We’ve all seen them. Plenty of them have passed through the doors of PCC. They are everywhere, in every church, and every city. You know who I’m talking about. Right? Church hoppers. Church hoppers are those people who hop from church to church on a regular basis without ever becoming established in a local congregation for any length of time.

The reasons for church hopping are as numerous as the people doing it, but the common denominator shared among them all is they want you to do more for them. No matter WHAT you do or HOW MUCH you do, they will eventually get bored or get offended and move on.

They all have the same M.O. – the grass is always greener somewhere else. i.e., The music is too loud or too slow here but just right over there; or some spiritual fat cat wants to be the big fish in a little pond so he finds a small church where he can be boss; or the children’s ministry is really cool at the other church; or the theological flavor over there suits my appetite better than here; or the pastor down the street is deeper. You get the idea.

These folks – God bless them – believe the church exists primarily to serve them and cater to their every desire, instead of them existing to serve Christ and His Church. It’s almost as if they have a country club mentality where you have to bend over backwards to appease them – you know, “the customer is always right.” They are the product of a generation that has been told you can “have it your way” and are accursed with short attention spans.

You can’t make disciples out of people like this. They are unstable like shifting sand. A church built on people like this is a house of cards.

What we need – what Pace Community Church needs – is people who understand God’s will for the local church, who will buy into the Great Commission and will sacrificially serve for the cause of Christ.

Church hoppers will not commit to any local church because they believe they are different; that they have special insights, special needs, or possess superior spiritual enlightenment unlike the rest of us mere mortals. So they flit from church to church filling their plate where their craving for the moment is satisfied.

Church hopping stinks because:

Its turns the Body of Christ into a commodity
. Church hoppers bring their families to church like they are on a trip to McDonald's. It is disrespectful. The church is the Body of Christ and is the Bride of Christ – to be treated with respect.

It turns preaching into an audition. No pastor wants you to come to church just because you think he is a good preacher. He wants you to hear what he’s got to say because it is God’s Word – not his – and them put it into practice like a committed believer should. People who are only coming to hear a good sermon are there only to see a performance.

Church hopping has its consequences. It will isolate you. You will develop a critical view of the church (and all churches). A judgmental spirit will get hold of you; “I don’t like this and I don’t like that” will become your constant refrain.

Church hopping puts you and your family on a spiritual starvation diet too; you never have a chance to get deeply involved in any of the church’s ministries. Moreover, the church hopper has little support and fewer connections with other believers, thus missing one of the greatest benefits of bonding with one group.

Here’s my advice to church leaders at PCC: When you encounter a church hopper, CALL THEM OUT. Tell them that visiting churches is a good thing to do and they should continue their search until they find the place where God wants them to serve – but never to be a church hopper. Also be sure to communicate to them that we have little tolerance for church hopping around here; we are trying to make disciples.

Church hopping needs to be called for what it is – shallow, immature, self-centered, and narcissistic. SPEAK TRUTH INTO THEIR LIFE. Do not placate them and their silly requests. “We’d stay if you had a cry room with a video feed." Instead, remind them that a video feed is an expensive luxury, not a necessity for church attendance. Call them out. Or if they complain that there isn’t a high enough adult-to-child ratio in the children’s ministry, INSIST THEY SIGN UP and VOLUNTEER to to help make it better. Then PUT THEM TO WORK! Confront these consumers in kindness and remind them that Christianity is about serving and sacrifice.

Otherwise, kindly invite these hoppers to keep on hopping.

No comments: