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'Church hopping' as we would understand it (going around to different church buildings or attending more than one but without 'commitment' to any one church building) was the usual practice of the early church! Though they frequently met in different locations (like riversides, houses, synagogues and the Temple), they all remained connected to the church body at large. They were meeting in different locations to fellowship with other believers, to preach to a wider audience, etc. Church hopping made them more connected to the body of Christ at large, not less. In Acts 2 we are given a couple examples of meeting styles. In verse one, they are "all together in one place" (Acts 2:1-41). These were followers of Christ, Jews, and gentile converts to Judaism, gathered to celebrate Pentecost. About 3,000 people were baptized - that's a large church service! Yet, in verse 46 we see the practice of the church (same people!) meeting from house to house and also in the temple courts. These houses were not large enough to encompass the entirety of the local church in Jerusalem, though the temple courts were. (Acts 2:12-47, Acts 5:41-42) They met as smaller groups of believer and as a larger group of believers. House churches were very common, though usually the local believers of a city also had contact with each other. [In fact, 'church' isn't even a word used in the NT. Rather, the term is "assembly" (ecclesia), and refers to both the one Church, and to any assembly of believers (two or more, any location!). Our english word 'church' comes from the greek 'Kyriakos' - "belonging to the Lord", which is also an apt description. Unfortunately, it tends to be used as a label for whatever building the church is meeting in]. In the modern church, it is harder to keep the practice of meeting house to house due to various fractured denominations, lack of home churches, almost nonexistent fellowship of christians outside of 'going to church', etc. As such, whether or not church hopping is encouraged or discouraged will depend on several factors: #1 Connection with the larger body of Christ Is church hopping isolating you/your family from the Church at large, or is it connecting you to a larger spiritual body? #2 Depth of fellowship Are you taking time to form deep relationships of fellowship and accountability, or is church hopping keeping you from worshiping with and getting to know other Christians at any level of depth? Do you find one church building or several to result in greater participation together in the work of Christ? (Heb 10:24-25) #3 Motive Are you church hopping because no church building is perfect and so you keep hoping for better [bad reason], or church hopping because every building has various strengths/weaknesses that help round out your spiritual life [good reason]? Are you church hopping because you are afraid of setting roots [bad reason], or are you church hopping because one building alone is stifling spiritual growth [good reason], etc. #4 Spiritual gifts Is church hopping making it difficult to find a ministry where one can use your/your family's spiritual gifts? Conversely, is church hopping making it easier by the larger selection or different slant of ministries? #5 Learning Are you church hopping because you want to better learn and discern the word by experiencing different teachers, styles, gifts [good reason], or are you church hopping until you find an entertaining preacher who's to your liking [bad reason]. #6 Contribution Are you contributing to the edification and ministry of the Church at large? (time, talent, resources, spiritual gifts, etc) Or, are you hoping to avoid giving time, talent, or resource to anyone? # 7 Unity Does attendance at multiple locations promote or discourage unity with the church at large? (Eph 4:1-6) # 8 Function A lesser matter, but a simple analysis of which is more convenient (such as, if you live/work in two different states or travel frequently).
Follow the Holy Spirit, as the apostles and other early church members did. They would plant churches, and as various churches sprung up, they would hop from one to another, visiting, not staying too long, but would generally stay long enough to build fellowship and community. As the Holy Spirit led, these early brothers and sisters would visit churches already planted either by themselves or others, wherever they sprung up, and would go wherever they felt the Holy Spirit leading them. Often, they would say they "longed to visit" a particular church, again. They loved and missed those in other parts of the broader Body of Christ (God uses our love and our passions as one way to guide us). Again, though, whether you go or stay, in a particular season, let your reasons be in love, and your guide be the Holy Spirit. Learn to listen for Him to tell you where He will use you. It may not always make sense, though. For example, I believed I was led to stay in my "home church," for now--a Catholic Church--even though I saw greater community in nearby protestant churches, and feel an affection toward them, and their members also. Of course, the Lord being the Lord, I've seen this work out for the best. Catholics are known for somewhat more rigid rituals--rigid like bones inside the human body--so my temptation was to believe there was no life in something so rigid. Of course, that's not true. As we all know, the bone contains marrow, which provides vital, if somewhat mysterious, functions to the rest of the Body. The bones and marrow grow and repair and live, all by the same Book of Instruction (our DNA) as the rest of our Body. And, most importantly, the Bones obey the Head of the Body, who is Christ. I hope this helps. Happy Church Hopping! :-)
I believe Jesus gave us the most direct and reliable insights that we will ever find, anywhere, ever. Jesus told us to "seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness". Jesus wants us to seek the kingdom. I believe that in seeking the kingdom, a part of what we do is seek fellowship and learning with other believers. If we are to learn and to grow and to travel the journey of sanctification, why would we stagnate at one place? Not that we should ever leave our church friends and our brothers and sisters on a whim and cut off those relationships, but that we should learn as much as we can from whatever opportunities arise and wherever we are led. I don't believe there is anything in the Bible saying that we are to stay in our church pews at our neighborhood church. There are wonderful church families everywhere. Why not expand our circle of brothers and sisters? There are many different denominations of Christians. Why not hear and learn all we can? Jesus sent His disciples out into the world to spread His good news. He is still sending us out today. It is wonderful to have a home base. But to seek the kingdom, and to "go and tell", we need to venture to other places, churches, events, and activities, where we can immerse ourselves in and shed a light for others to God's love and righteousness.
I think it would be helpful to look at the kinds of people who attend church to understand whether church hopping is helpful or not. My answer will look at 3 categories of people and what they are looking for in a church. Category 1 These are people who are facing huge challenges, problems or difficulties in life. They have exhausted their own means to resolve these things and are looking to the church for answers. Maybe religious instruction will provide the answers they are looking for. Maybe God will bail them out of their difficulties if they can make some kind of deal with him. Category 2 This group of people are experiencing deep guilt and shame over the things they know are wrong in their lives. This is conviction of sin that comes from the Holy Spirit. This is not condemnation which comes from Satan, because that kind of attack drives people away from the church. Category 3 This group of people have begun a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. They want to grow that relationship and see the local church as the means to help them do that. Category 1 people look for churches that have practical answers for the problems they face (ie marriage problems, financial problems, deep pain or grief, etc) so churches that offer courses, counselling and other support groups dealing with these issues are quite appealing. Category 2 people look to churches for answers to resolve the guilt and shame so they can feel good about themselves. Churches that preach the gospel of Jesus Christ so people can come to faith in him for their salvation will be quite appealing since God will forgive their sins and wash their guilt and shame away. Category 3 people look to churches for discipleship training, Christian worship and fellowship, a place to serve and share their faith. Churches that teach the bible as God's manual for living the Christan life, who help people to develop intimate personal friendships, and who give people a place to use their spiritual gifts in serving others will be quite appealing. The apostle Paul talks a lot about the church being the body of Christ on earth. In one sense the universal church is his body and each denomination is a part of it. In another sense each local congregation or parish is the expression of his body in a local community. The bible is clear that God places people in the body exactly where he wants them to be. So it is important for each person to pray and ask God to lead them to an expression of the local church where he wants them to be. It is also important to remember that we are part of the local church in a give and receive relationship. We give our time, talents and treasure so others can receive the help them need. When we have needs the church is there so we can receive what we need for our spiritual health. In my view, once we are connected to the local church where God wants us to be, then church hopping is quite disruptive to the effective operation of the body to accomplish God's will. If all the eyes went church hopping, how would the local church see to walk where the Spirit was shining his light.
Church hopping can be good or bad looking at the the reasons for doing so. Jesus was once concerned about whether there will be people with faith when he comes back, and I believe that the most important role a church should play to its members is to make them rooted in faith until Jesus comes or until they meet their death. As the Bible says, "Blessed are those who die in the Lord." For this reason I would say, "yes," one can move from one church to another if that church could no longer make him grow spiritually due to different kinds of reasons that we can think of. However if the reason for one moving from one church to another is not because of the reason related to his spiritual growth then it becomes questionable.
Church hopping is not biblical, but I would advise for one to seek a good bible believing and teaching church and make that their permanent spiritual home. Out of all the religious faiths and religions the church is the only organization where people hop from one church to another. The reason why people hop from church to church is because they have not found themselves. The only way one can find oneself is when one finds God. May I add there are too many churches all over the world for personal recognition and financial gain. Many of them are no more our father’s business, but have become our business using the father’s name. Church hoppers need to be reminded that there is no way they could have a relationship with the divine when they hop from church to church. I have no biblical evidence that God almighty approves of such practice.
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