When I was a new Christian, I had a church that I loved very much. It was a wonderful church and I grew so much while attending that church. I had a wonderful church family, supportive friends, and great ministry involvement. This church was a blessing and in some ways became a burden later in life.
You see after attending such a great church, I began to compare every church to that experience, which made finding a new church, when I moved away, more challenging. My husband and I moved to a city where we knew no one, we also couldn’t agree on what we wanted in a church. I thought it was the ministries that I wanted. I thought that my involvement with very specific ministries is what would help me grow again. My husband wanted something more modern and smaller. We tried out a few churches and finally agreed on a pretty modern church. I didn’t really like it, but hubby did, so we stuck it out for 2 years. After two years, we felt like something wasn’t right. We couldn’t quite pinpoint it, but we both felt the nudging that we needed to look elsewhere, so we did. We then found another small church, which we were able to attend from their very first service. We both really enjoyed the church, the friendships and the atmosphere, but after two years, we moved to another town, which meant we had to church hunt again.
Quickly, after moving to where we live now, we found a church that we both could agree on. It was a huge church, similar to the one I grew up in, but very different for my husband. The church wasn’t perfect, as that is probably impossible to find, but we felt like the pastor was teaching sound doctrine, which was most important to us. We have been attending this church for four years now and have truly enjoyed it, but ever since our daughter was born (2 years ago), we started to feel like maybe it wasn’t the right church anymore. I felt so frustrated by this because we truly liked the church and really couldn’t find a solid reason that we would need to leave, so we both ignored the feeling and stayed for another two years. Here we are two years later and feeling lead to find a new church.
I kept thinking, what is wrong with us? Are we church hoppers? I don’t want to be a church hopper. I kept thinking maybe we shouldn’t look elsewhere because there isn’t really anything “wrong” with our church, so why are we even looking? I prayed and prayed that God would help me know if this was his leading or our selfishness that was encouraging us to search elsewhere? I was really torn, our daughter was baptized at our church, we made really good friends, and the pastor gives really great sermons. At a recent service, we found out that the lead pastor at our church was taking a three month sabbatical, which is a normal process for our church leadership. We felt like this was a good time to just try out new churches and see if we should really be seeking a new church, or if our current church was our home.
We tried out two new churches, but it wasn’t until the second church that I realized what this was all about. The second church that we attended made me forget about everything at our “home” church. The people, the environment and most importantly the sound doctrine made us feel like we belonged. We don’t want to jump the gun on this one and assume this is the “right” church for us, but what we realized was really important. We’re not church hoppers. We’re Christians who are listening to the prompting of our Lord. You see, there really isn’t anything “wrong” with our home church, but we realized is that God is changing our hearts and as a result, we need our hearts to fed differently, by a different pastor, a different community, a different church. It had nothing to do with how involved we were or weren’t. The nudging we are feeling isn’t about us at all, it’s about God and what God is trying to do to bring us fully to our sanctification.
I’ve concluded that there are people who are church hoppers and that’s OK. I don’t think we should judge church hoppers because I think they are still searching and seeking and I think that’s good. What I have realized though, is that leaving my home church does not make me a church hopper, attending four different churches in the course of eight years is OK because at each church I was in a different phase of my walk with Christ and my marriage was at a different place and now eight years into my marriage and one daughter later, God is wanting to nurture our hearts in a different way and maybe the next church that we choose to join will be our “forever” church and then again, maybe not. What I do believe though, is that when we follow the Lord’s prompting and we evaluate our own hearts with discernment, we will find where the Lord wants us to go to church and we will be blessed for our obedience to his prompting.
Do you have a church family? How long have you attended your church? Have you or do you ever consider yourself a church hopper? If so, do you think that’s a bad thing?
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