Your church needs you!
If you're shopping around for a new church, you'll need to read this article.
In the world of shopping, consumers are takers. Generally speaking, they aren’t there to help anyone else but themselves.
You know what’s it like… "my phone is 12 months old, so it’s time for a new one. My clothes are sooooo last season, so better max out the credit card. The battery is dying on my laptop, so I need a completely new computer."
In the same way, church hopping (not sticking with one church) can be another form of consumerism. And just like consumerism, it can be harmful in more ways than one.
- We treat everything as disposable. If it’s not perfect, chuck it away and get a new one. But if God treated us that way, none of us would be here!
- Consumers don’t give, they use. You might think you’re searching for the right place for you, but have you thought about the people you meet? Are you thinking of ways you can help them follow Jesus, or is it all about how nice they are to you, or how well you get on with them? In your search for that “just right” place, are you using people, instead of loving them the way Jesus loved us?
- Consumers drag churches down. Think about that imaginary conversation from yesterday, where there were multiple boyfriends for different moods. If you were one of the boyfriends, how would you feel if that person was telling you all about how wonderful their other boyfriend is? When people church hop, the initial result might be a short-term enjoyment, but in the long term they just discourage and tear others down. Sure, the people at ‘your other church’ probably are awesome and wonderful people. But all your listeners hear is, “Blah blah blah, you’re not good enough for me, blah blah blah.”
- Church is God’s people in all our imperfection. But consumerism holds up a critical eye towards everything. We end up being the kids in the back row, judging the musical performances, or listening to sermons on behalf of everyone else. We slowly become the Pharisees, shaking our heads and telling everyone (including Jesus) how wrong they are.
- Everything goes back to being about ME, instead of how I can help others. But next time you’re at church or in youth group, have a look around. Are there people who could be helped by something you have to offer? Are there people who need someone to listen?
Now I’m not saying that there are never reasons to change churches. Sometimes there are real problems in churches that can’t be solved by “working things out”. But most of the times I’ve listened to people talk about “church hopping”, it’s been more like the many boyfriends conversation - “It’s not fun/teaching me/worshipful/soulful/encouraging, so I’m going to go somewhere that will fulfill all my needs.”
So before you hop over to your other church, ask yourself the question: Am I being a consumer? Am I more concerned with my feelings or my happiness than I am with learning how to follow Jesus? Am I trying to have multiple “boyfriends/girlfriends”, instead of learning how to be faithful - and how to love - one?
God is in our lives for the long haul. He wants us to be in other people’s lives for the long haul, too.
Jesus saved us, even when we were messed up. Perhaps we need to follow his example and hang in there when church isn’t perfect, either. Who knows, perhaps one day instead of thinking about all the things your church is missing, you might be one of the ways God fills it up.