ARE YOR A CHURCH HOPPER?
(Trussville, AL USA)
The modern day church has succumbed to a matrix of religions. Clichés such as "Backdoor Saints" or Church Hoppers". And these traits seem to be gaining religious ground, in today's society. Sad to say, however, this metaphorical phenomenon, seems to be sweeping the country. Why is this?
Often times, when I feel like relaxing without falling asleep, I will give the old TV remote a work out. I'll just keep flicking the various TV channels, until I find a subject that fits my fancy. Is this not like our modern day Christians. If they don't find their needs being met in a particular church, they will just move on to greener pastures. Thus, a "back door saint", or a "church hopper", if you please.
I know a nice Christian couple, with whom we are friends. And seemingly every time we meet, they have changed churches. What's so strange, is that they stay in the same main line denomination.
I can fully understand those extricated losses by means of death, age, sickness, a job transfer, etc. Nonetheless, what about those leaving church because of a myriad of dis-satisfactions or differences, be they of a real or of a fabricated nature. (2 Timothy 3:8)
Why do people leave the church? Jesus summarized the topic as giving priority to the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of wealth, distracted desires for worldly things and carnal pleasures. (Matthew 13:22) (Mark 4:18) (Luke 8:14) And the apostle Paul expanded the list to include false teachings. (Romans 16:17) (2 Thess 3:6) (Titus 3:10 ). )
From a hypothetical secular viewpoint, suppose we added reasons for leaving the church as poor leadership, not liking the style of worship, not enjoying a specific music format, dealing with the bureaucracy, having deep inner hurts, the church size, an unfriendly atmosphere, talents not being used, not having epidural needs met, etc. I'm sure you could add to this listing, as well.
It would be very interesting to see how many AWOL Christians exit the church strictly because their spiritual needs are not being met. (Psalm 92:12-13) Speaking on behalf of the Holy Spirit, Paul has given us the point to ponder, of having unity within the church. (1 Cor 12:12-21).
As Christians, we must move from the "name it and claim it" mentality to a "mutual dependent respect and care for each other" mentality. (1 Cor 12:21-31)
Do we run to greet our fellow church members, during the "meet and greet" segment of the Sunday service, only to forget them during the week? Do we ask how they are doing on Sunday, then forget to call them during the week? This is what I call "Sunday Friends".
Our fellow church member may just be going through a life crisis, needing someone to connect with during the week. We don't need "Sunday Friends". We should love as Jesus did. He didn't wait for people to come to Him on the "Sabbath", He went out to the people. (Matthew 9:10-13)
You may be a new attendee or have been in church a half century. You may have attended every denomination know to man. You may have been in churches where the preacher spoke in dulcet tones or in others where he'd speak in tongues. You may have been where the congregation remains quietly in pews or where they jump in the aisles. You may have been where they would raise their hands in praise and others where they kept their hands on their wallet.
If the service doesn't meet your needs, over time you may slowly drift from the middle row, to the back row, then on out the "back door". If the Holy Spirit doesn't direct our church service, every segment is all done in vain. (Proverbs 18:19)
So how can we close this "back door"? Dr. Luke, speaking again on behalf of the Holy Spirit, gave us the best example. (Acts 2:41-47) If only our churches would build their "Church Constitution and By-Laws" around this first church doctrine.
• Those who received the word were baptized. (Acts 2:41)
• They continued listening to the apostles teaching. (Acts 2:42)
• They continued fellowship by breaking of bread. (Acts 2:42)
• They continued in prayer. (Acts 2:42)
• They continued to be amazed, seeing miracles taking place. ( Acts 2: 43)
• They continued to all be of one accord, and had all things in common. (Acts 2:44)
• They continued to share their possession with the poor. (Acts 2:45)
• They continued worshiping in the temple (the church) daily (Acts 2:46)
• They continued to visit and eat with one another daily. (Acts 2:46)
• They continued having a spirit of "sincerity" and "gladness of heart". (Acts:2:46)
• They continued praising God by having favor with all men. (Acts 2:47)
• And God blessed the church, by adding new converts. (Acts 2:47)
One important factor, in the success of the early church, was the leadership of God's Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37-39) This Holy Spirit, as promised by Jesus(John 16:5-11), was the birth of the church. (Acts 2:1-4). Like the early day church, our churches need a re-birth of this Holy Spirit. (Acts 9:31)
It may be God's Will that a person leave a particular church. Sometimes, the Lord is saying, "it's time to go". It may be that others never leave the church and that's okay as long as it's according to God's purpose for their lives. (1 Cor 2:13)
However, if the church is not teaching the "full gospel" (1 Cor 15:1-4) and the church doctrines are unscriptural (2 Peter 2:1-3), it's definitely time to leave but always pray first. You see, the Holy Spirit might just tell you to stay and reach out in love to those around you. (Romans 8:9)
Now, how do we react when a friend leaves our church? First and foremost, we must prayer for that person(s). (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) Pray that they may find God's Will" for their lives. And don't forget to pray for your church and those who are left behind. (James 5:16)Pray that "God's Purpose" will continue to be revealed in your church. (Matthew 16:18)
You see, Satan has, and always will be, the driving force (Ephesians 6:12) behind every church disruption. (2 Timothy 4:10)
What are you doing in your church to close the back door?
Author's Post Script
I am very concerned about today's church. Everywhere I look the church worship services are being distorted or are being watered down. False teachings and vague unscriptural doctrines have infiltrated our churches so much so they have divided the body of Christ. Many Christians that have fallen for these lies and were misled are now leaving the church confused, discouraged, and betrayed not knowing who or what to believe anymore (1 John 4:1-6).
My old preacher Daddy, who is now at home with the Lord had a famous saying, "I don't care how high you jump, just so you walk straight when you hit the ground."
Just look around you, as you travel to church next Sunday. Children playing, men washing cars, ladies sun bathing, like there is no tomorrow. More than ever before, we believers must overshadow Satan's evil schemes (1 John 3:8 ) by our "Spirit Lead" worship. (James 4:7)
You may call me a "spiritual dinosaur" if you may. I still believe in that "Old Time Religion". I can't help but ponder those old "brush-arbor" revival meetings where the "Amen's" and the "Hallelujah's" echoed, as the Spirit led. " The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit". ( Philippians 4:23)