One of the things that can really aggravate me are people who church-hop. You know who I'm talking about. The people who go to a different church each month, claiming to be on a quest to find the "right" church. They stick around at one church long enough to find something or someone they don't like, and they move on. They hop from church to church, as if church is something you can try on in a fitting room and if you don't like it, you put it back on the self and keep looking. That's not what church is supposed to be!
Let me get something straight: I'm not being "holier-than-thou" or self-righteous about this. I have moved twice, and each time to a different state, and each time, my family and I have visited different churches, trying to find where God wants us. There's nothing wrong with that and that isn't church-hopping. That's called trying to find where God wants you. When I talk about church-hopping, I'm talking about when you've spent a reasonable enough time living in an area, but you're always trying to find where you want you. I know of many families who seem to go to a different church every few months, or every year or two. That is church hopping and is very different from when we moved and visited a few churches before joining one.
So what is the church? Is it something you need to commit to? Is it a place to get plugged in to a body of believers? Is it a place to serve and help out? Is it a place to go to be encouraged and to hear the Word? Is it a place to find accountability in your faith walk? Is it a place to grow and learn about God?
No. It isn't. You see, if you're a Christian, a follower of God, then the church is you. The problem with the definitions I just listed is the word "place" in each sentence. As a body, a people, we should be doing these things without the place. Why? Because the church isn't a building, a program, a ministry, or a center. The church isn't the pastor, the staff, the elders, the band, the Bible studies, or the events. If you take all these things away, the church is still there because the church is the people. The Christians. Think about it. The bride of Christ isn't a building or an event or even a Bible study. The bride is the people! The church isn't something that you can try on and see if it fits right.
What sets me off is that when people hop around churches, they may say they won't go back because they disliked the worship or the preaching style or something else, but what they really disliked were the people.
And that's what's aggravating. If they were honest, they church-hop because they're searching for the perfect group of people. But there aren't any perfect people. Somehow, someway, their expectations aren't met, so they leave, once again, to search for the "right" place.
There are no perfect people and you'll never find a perfect church. I have a lot of concerns about my church right now. But I haven't left in search of a "better" church. I've committed myself to be where God wants me to be, and until I feel like God has called me away from where I'm at now, I will stay. And you should do the same. I beg you to not church-hop. You'll never find a perfect church. The worship won't always be songs you know or like; the pastor won't always say the things you think he should say. Even the people at the church will eventually disappoint you and let you down. But that's just because we are an imperfect people.
So please, when you're looking for where God wants you to be, don't expect to find a perfect place with perfect people. Instead, look for a group of people you can serve with. Look for a group of people you can laugh with, and cry with. Look for a group of people who won't water the Gospel down and who will hold you accountable. Look for a group of people who are genuine in their faith and want to change the world (and the neighborhood) for Christ. And above all else, look for a group of people who are living with the intention of bringing all the glory and attention to God. The purpose of our existance is to bring all glory and attention to God, not to ourselves. And if we try to find a church for selfish reasons or a church that'll make us look good, then we're completely missing the point.