Saturday, September 12, 2009

Church Hopping and Inconsistent Attendance

With a title like that. . . who wouldn't want to keep reading! :)

There are two things in the present church culture that are too easily accepted and not called out. Church hopping (attending more than one church at the same time) and inconsistent attendance at your church of choice.

Most folks these days celebrate the ethic of variety, choice, and the different emphases two non-related churches might have. Also, folks celebrate meeting with God "when I go to the mountains" or "when I'm sitting at coffee with a friend." (nothing wrong with that, . . but not a full spiritual diet)

Let's tackle the first one, first.

When you attend more than one church, you lose out on many things that are important in your spiritual life,. . . .accountability/authority and humility, to name a few.

If you say, "I go to this church for the music, this church for the biblical teaching. . .and this small group, because it's my friends" etc. . . . you are not under any consistent biblical authority, teaching, or accountability. We need to be under a biblical body of elders that are praying for us, teaching us, and yes, disciplining us. I grieve over the guy who decides to leave his wife, while they attend two different churches. . . and no one is there to call him out, or to walk through this season with them. Yes, we need spiritual authority in our lives (the horror of it all). Yes, we need to hear the bible taught from our elders and need the same folks who know us to be able to speak into our lives with the gospel.

Also, in the humility area, if you're church hopping, you're making yourself the judge of all that is good and right (and wrong) about each church you attend. You're a consumer. . . .God calls us to be a Body. If the pastor says something you don't like, you hop churches the next week. . .if the band sounds bad, you go somewhere else the week after that. This is not a healthy spirituality. We need to plug in somewhere, commit, be under authority, accept correction from our elders (and friends) and encourage others.

Now, onto inconsistent attendance. . . . I"m not speaking here about things we can't control, like illness, lack of transportation, or sudden need for travel, etc. . . . But, I live in Colorado. Everyone seems to have a house in the mountains, they visit it frequently. . . they like to visit it on Sundays. I also had someone tell me this week, "I won't be there that weekend because I know my son has a soccer tournament". Even our occupations at times can take precedence over a commitment we've made to be together with God's people.

Am I saying all of this because I just want alot of people to show up at church. . . big numbers? No, . . I'm saying it because our priorities are out of whack. And, in the case of soccer, for instance,. . we're passing on that ethic to our kids.

Why is it important that you attend church regularly? Because that's your family, that's your authority, that's the folks that need you to serve them, and those are the folks that need to serve you. The other choices of things to do are not as important.

Even in the case of work, sometimes our work makes us come in on Sunday. That's ok. But, I find that it usually leads to the folks not showing up even on other weekends, when they're off. They aren't fighting for that time. Unless folks are busy in personal study with an elder or having intercessory prayer for the Nations once a month (which you could do another day), they probably aren't doing something as important as hearing from the Word and fellowshipping with other believers.

Am I asking for 100% attendance like school or something? No. I just want to see folks fighting for that time. They fight for "family" time by going to a movie on the weekends. They fight for "me" time by reading a book, going for a hike, etc. . . I want to see folks fighting for "Body of Christ" time. The Body needs you, read 1 Corinthians 12.

So, please don't hear me being a legalist on church attendance. I don't want that. I just want to see folks fighting. Remember, we have an enemy who is fighting against us. Are you fighting back? Do you think it's a coincidence that it's always hard to get your kids out the door, or make the schedule work on Sundays? So, fight for that time,. . . .it'll be great for your spiritual life. And, it will free you up from the tyranny of choices on Sunday that battle against you. Choose church. Prioritize getting together with your local Body of believers. Then, there will be less choices to make.

Let's stop assuming that the folks who attend more than one church are really mature believers, . . or really want "the best" from many different churches. Let's stop celebrating folks getting away or being busy with their kids on Sunday morning. Let's celebrate faithfulness and hunger for God's Word. Let's celebrate folks fighting to arrange their schedules so that they can be at church, as a family.

Let's meet together and celebrate Jesus.


Scott Lenger said...

One of the things I really appreciate about the Catholic Church (and a few mainline churches that have a similar practice) is the idea of a parish, meaning a local church for each specific geographical community. That way it literally forces you to worship with your neighbors rather than trucking across town every Sunday. Also, in my experience, those who drive the furthest tend to be the most likely to be hoppers.

aaron said...


Yes, I will agree with that. I feel bad for how far some of our folks have to drive.

But, it's not always that way. I've seen people hop to churches that are much further away for dubious reasons. One thing I didn't say in this post is that I often think folks are trying to "hide" at church. And, hopping around enables that.

But, yeah, we should start skipping the "wal mart" approach to church, and plant smaller campuses or churches in more communities.