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How Are Church Membership And Church-hopping Defined And Perceived In God's Word?

Discussion in 'Christian Scriptures' started by unfinishedclay, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. unfinishedclay

    unfinishedclay Member

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    I often hear a lot among my Christian friends about the importance of loyalty to one church and how church-hopping is wrong. When I read in Acts of the Apostles, I read, not only the apostles going place to place establishing and checking up on churches in many places, I read that people who traveled with them did this. Also, I have read where Paul explained that Christ is not divided to believers who stressed whose household of faith they were with.

    It really seems that we place importance on what Paul described was not supposed be among us - division (not divided because of church membership but divided because there is so much exclusiveness, disassociations, feelings of betrayals concerning membership changes, and other problems within the church as a whole - as a result of membership). Of course, I have always believed in belonging to a church, which I have belonged to primarily one church for years tithing in that one place. But as I have belonged to a primary church, I have always kept myself in fellowship with other churches -some even participating in their missions - because I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. This trend started for me when I belonged to a church here in the city where I'm from but also belonging to a church out-of-state where I attended college and got saved my sophomore year. From then on, I experienced so much fellowship, relationships, and inconspicuous ministry.

    When I returned home, I continued this habit for years and really felt myself experiencing just a small fraction of the joys, various missions, and unnoticeable ministry that disciples experienced in Acts moving around getting their feet wet in fellowships, relationships, witnessing, and missions. Then, the subject of church-hopping kept getting thrown out there as some kind of crisis among Christians. It's made an issue by church leadership, and considering all that I've read in Paul's letters and Acts, I don't understand why. Can someone please explain this to me?
     
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  2. Parth

    Parth Newbie

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    It has to do with pride. Ministers are human beings too, and they like to see a big church. But a big church does not necessarily mean a good church.
     
  3. unfinishedclay

    unfinishedclay Member

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    Amen. I agree.
     
  4. ebia

    ebia Senior Contributor

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    You seem to be trying to get scripture to answer a question that couldn't arise in its time.

    There's a world of difference between overseers and teachers moving around the geography of Asia, and someone in the 21st century using the various denominations like a consumer buying a service.
     
  5. ebia

    ebia Senior Contributor

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    Its mostly big churches that operate in and benefit from the consumer mentality.
     
  6. Parth

    Parth Newbie

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    I go to a small church on Saturdays. Attendance is about 10 people. But I feel the presence of God stronger then the church I go to on Sunday morning with over 200 people. There are reasons why I can not leave that church right now, but the bottom line is that go where God takes you.
     
  7. peggy sue

    peggy sue Guest

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    what their really interested in is being able to depend on your tithe each week, so they can budget the churches funds, God help us if people would all visit other churches and act like were all believers in the same Christ
     
  8. unfinishedclay

    unfinishedclay Member

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    Well, the reason why I refer to the Word for my answer is because that is all the LORD will communicate back to me - within my spirit or by ministering to me through another believer (such as here). And not everyone uses denominations like a consumer buying service.

    I certainly understand your point - that there is a "difference between overseers and teachers moving aroung Asia" vs "someone in 21st century using denominiations like consumer buying a service." I believe that many people move from church to church looking for what entertains or serves themselves. That's not somebody who is surrendered to Christ or is available to be used to minister to others/edify other believers. It's not someone who is denying self if he or she moves around to serve self. And maybe that's what a lot of preachers mean when they say "church hoppers".

    Neverthless, the issue or the complaint about church hopping threatens to shackle a lot of well-meaning people with feelings of shame, guilt, intimidation, insecurity, lordship if there is a desire to cultivate fellowship, edification, spreading of the gospel in more than one church setting, and even discouragement from scoping out a better church home. How can leaders impose this as an issue in light of I Corinthians 1:12-13?(I am at my home church now because, while primarily belonging to a church pastored by my husband's sister and her husband, I fellowshipped elsewhere to hear more of the Word - It being taught erroneously by my in-laws, who love the LORD very much though.)

    Again, the reason this issue is important to me is because I love fellowshipping at a home church - but I attend other services as well. And I always belong to one primary church. For example, my home church teaches and practices the Word. After every service almost, I love to meet up with my parents by frequently going to their church service after I'm out of my own church. As a result of this, I have listened to the Word there at their church too and learn from the teaching, which is also Biblical.

    Recently, my parents' church had a local missions project in which I participated because I love spreading the gospel. Among some of my Christian friends, "going from church to church" has been described as something wrong and the complaint has confused one of my children about this issue, when before he didn't know "church hopping" namely existed nor that it was "wrong" until hearing in the pulpit at my husband's church where my sister-in-law preached it is as being wrong. She is no exception among many leaders by any means. "Church hopping" is a trendy term and trendy to criticize by people who really love the LORD and I'm sure, mean well.

    (Bottom line is we tell the adults and children in church to obey God's Word and shun entertainment that violates our faith in the Word and then we stack on a few other rules of right and wrong that aren't even addressed in God's Word...that I can see anyway. - Romans 14:1-23 and Matthew 23:1-4)
     
  9. apocolypticremedy999

    apocolypticremedy999 Regular Member

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    I'm growing so tired of the way many Christians of today make such a big deal out of "Church hopping." They are even quick to condemn people about it. I used to get condemned about it when I did so when I was traveling on a pilgrimage across the nation. Christians ougt to keep in mind that the church of Christ isn't just one building, but many all together. The loyalty and pride of single churches has negatively affected the entire church of Christ as a whole and thus the community has become hostile and churches are divided against each other in rivalry. It's ridiculous! No church is much better than the other, but the church of Christ as a whole is equal as long as they are united in the harmony of the same orthodox doctrines that derive from God and the Holy Spirit. Keep in mind that Paul often went church hopping all the time, esp along his pilgrimage. Christians should not make such a big deal out of this nonsense, keep in mind also that many Christians are looking for the best church that best fits them, and therefore they look around.
     
  10. unfinishedclay

    unfinishedclay Member

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    Don't get me wrong. I do support church membership and certainly see its upliftig purpose as very edifying to members, visitors, and communities. But the problems pointed out are results from misuse of membership - labeling church hopping among other problems.
     
  11. yeshuaslavejeff

    yeshuaslavejeff simple truth, martyr, disciple of Yahshua

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    How Are Church Membership And Church-hopping Defined And Perceived In God's Word?
    How did Jesus direct His disciples in the Bible ?
    (apparently nothing like in the untied states(or most places) today, or so it seems)
     
  12. Commander

    Commander A son of God.

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    First question I would ask is: where does God dwell, the second would be is: where does God not dwell.
     
  13. Geralt

    Geralt Reformed Supporter

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    its a free country.
     
  14. Pamelav

    Pamelav Child of God.

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    It doesn't sound like you fit the criteria of a church hopper if you have a main church you attend pretty regularily? You just get involved in other churches for ministry reasons.? I could be wrong of course but I thought church hoppers were just dissatisfied and can't seem to find one that suits them.
     
  15. Ken Behrens

    Ken Behrens Well-Known Member

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    See the Didache and I Clement to the Corinthians. "Church-hopping" is the ministry of the wandering apostle. There is no Scripture requiring submission to pastors as part of the Christian lifestyle. Those who hear a calling from God must go where He sends.
     
  16. Greg J.

    Greg J. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The value to a church attender who stays at a church through thick an thin are things like:
    1. Pleasing God by being faithful to a group of people,
    2. Being discipled in a way that takes into account what has happened to the person in the past,
    3. Being accountable for your behavior: church discipline for sin and also in continuing to do good,
    4. Depth of relationship/fellowship,
    5. Better spiritual protection, and
    6. Being a more completely connected part of a body of Christ (which facilitates the functioning of the body).
    God wants us to be faithful to and serve those in authority over us even when it is not pleasant, and rewards us for that. These add up to it being best for a person's long-term to stay at the same church even when it is painful, but there's so many options these days (in America), not a lot of people will withstand conflict and pain for long. In some cases a person has to already be close to the Lord to withstand problems at church.

    An exception to staying at a church even in Biblical times would be when a person is learning from people who are not teaching the truth. God may want someone very strong in the Word to stay to influence the church in the right direction, but often not since such leadership may not be willing to change much (they're already resisting the Holy Spirit). It depends on the humility of the leadership. Since bad company corrupts good character, this is more of a calling by God than a personal evaluation and choice.

    Those not able to stand firm on Scripture all by themselves (e.g., surpassing middle-aged pastors' knowledge) should definitely be moving on when the Truth is not preached and the leadership disagrees it is in error. This is one of many examples why there is such an enormous need for people strong in the Word, Holy Spirit, and deeds to be making disciples for Jesus (because there are so few).
     
  17. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Episcopalian Supporter

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    There is an economic reality for the institutional church. Building, mission, programming, & staff costs require regular cash flow. Money derives from regular supporters of the institutional church whose giving level determines whether the church is going to be sustainable or not. If you have ever been on a church governing board, you know that churches have to have some estimate of giving to be able to plan & deliver programming and missions.

    I believe Christians are called to live in community, to engage in corporate worship and mission as the body of Christ. I gladly offer financial support, such as I am able to give, to one church to help ensure the sustainability of its missions and the church itself. I think it would be an interesting study to determine the average plate contribution of church hoppers compared to the average contribution of regular attenders of a specific church. My guess is that regular attenders are more invested in the life of the church and therefore better givers, hence the negative comments one encounters about church hoppers. I travel for business and have occasion to visit churches in other cities when I am on the road. I always try to drop something in their plates when I am there. However, I confess that the amounts are lower than what I drop in my church's plate. I don't hold the same level of commitment to them. Of course, while I am traveling, I am also still supporting my church at home to the same level as I would if I was there.
     
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