Our new Church Motto:
If you didn’t like your old church, you won’t like this one either. Go away.
An older man told me he’s left every church he’s been involved with because of conflict with leadership. Imagine my surprise when he left my church over a problem with me.
Another guy who left my church in the rudest way anyone has, later got kicked out of, yes “kicked out of,” the next church he went to.
A family left my church because they disagreed with pretty much everything we did. The wife decided to go to school to be a pastor. Now she can run a church right.
I was told that one family who left my church has also left every church in town. All the pastors know them, as they all were their pastor at one point.
One couple, who attends my church about six-months at a time, constantly bounces in and out of churches six-months at a time, trying all the new pastors as they come in. They never settle anywhere.
The majority of people who have left my church haven’t joined another church. I believe this will work out well for the church, but be a complete disaster for them personally.
When you’ve been a pastor long enough you get used to people coming and going. Sometimes you know why; sometimes you don’t. But news travels. I end up hearing what they are up to after they leave. Based on the later stories and interactions, I understand more why they left and most of the time, it wasn’t our church; it was just troubled people having troubles with everything.
When people leave my church, I try not to take it personally. I feel bad for them, most of them go on to prove they have deep spiritual issues that need dealing with. Some do hurt the church. Some hurt me deeply. Some are misunderstandings and personality conflicts that make me wonder if I should still be a pastor. Others just make sense.
“There are no perfect churches because there are no perfect people,” is the cute cliché that’s supposed to make us feel better about our ineptitude. There is a point to be made there, but I still think churches can be better.
Hopping around until you find one that already meets all your requirements, will not only frustrate you, it won’t help any church.
There is much irony in pastors complaining about church-hoppers when pastors stay at a church for four years on average. Perhaps people are just following our lead? Dedicate yourself to a church.
Churches are not commodities to be weighed and compared and priced. The church is a family. You’re not supposed to ditch your family for a better one. Of course, this illustration doesn’t make much sense in our culture where ditching your family for another one is no longer taboo.
The church is a body. When one member hurts, all members hurt. We do our part collectively to keep the whole body strong. Of course, this illustration doesn’t make much sense in our culture where most of us are overweight and lazy. We don’t take care of problems, we just get them medically treated or covered up. Easier to buy a drug than maintain disciplined diet and exercise.
The church is like a building. It’s made to last, to weather the storm, and provide shelter and comfort for years. Of course, this illustration doesn’t make much sense in our culture where people move and we ditch old parts of town for new houses on the outskirts.
So, yeah, none of the illustrations for church make much sense anymore. It should not shock you that people are not loyal to your church. Grass tends to be greener in other fields. Other pastors are always better than the one you have.
I don’t let people leave without checking in on them. It saddens me to see the state of the church today, but more so to see the state of people who leave churches all the time. These are hurting people and the church is hurting right along with them.
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
2 thoughts on “Why Church Hopping Exists”
Ha! When I first came to my church, I told our pastor I was just a visitor, a church floater. Is that a floatee like a two year old might leave in his orange juice or something you might find in a swimming pool? Needless to say after such words, it was love at first sight, a match made in heaven. 🙂
It’s a beautiful thing when it works out!
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