Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Church Hopping"

I have often heard in religious settings people warning me to beware of becoming a “church hopper”. Church hopping is always spoken of in a negative way and something that is looked down upon and something we should avoid. The thing is, as I see it, it is impossible to be a “CHURCH HOPPER.” The term “Church Hopping” is an oxymoron. It cannot be done.

Now I know what these people mean who talk about “church hopping.” They are talking about individuals who attend an assembly of believers for a while, something upsets them or they get their feeling hurt, so they leave that fellowship and move to a different assembly of believers. Once they are there for a short amount of time they are once again offended and so they move on from there looking for somewhere else to attend. This jumping from congregation to congregation is referred to as “church hopping.”

As one studies the Biblical references concerning the Church (the Ekklesia) you will soon see that the Church is not a place. The Church is not a building that can be “hopped” from! The church is not somewhere you go, but rather something you “are.” The Church is the body of Christ; it is the assembly of believers throughout the world. Anywhere members of the body of Christ are, that is where the Church is. As we use to sing in Sunday school years ago, “I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together.” So you see, one cannot “hop” from church to church, because there is only ONE church. You are either a member of this Church or you are not, there is no middle ground. In Matt. 16:18, Jesus says to Peter, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Jesus was not telling Peter that he was going to construct a building on top of him. Rather, Jesus was saying that He would build an army of disciples out of those who get the revelation of who Jesus is, and what His Kingdom is. My guess is that many of the so called “church hoppers,” are not members of this true church at all. That is why they are so discontent. They are trying to fit into a body of which they are not a member, but are actually aliens to. It is like trying to graft a piece of a Buick into a human body, the two are just not compatible. We first must be regenerated by the blood of Jesus and become a new creation in Him before we will truly fit into this body (the Church).

The fact, then, that there is only one church and one body should change the way we view those who attend other fellowships than ours, or leave our fellowship to attend another. Even though those who meet down the street in a different building may believe a little differently from me, or have a different style of worship than I do; as long as they have been washed in the blood of Jesus, they are part of the same body (the same church) as me. Different fellowships of believers have different purposes and meet different needs upon the earth. A hand has a different purpose than a kidney but one is not more important than the other. They must work together in order for the body to function properly. Religion fears people leaving their assembly and going to another when that may very well be what that individual needs to do in order to fulfill his Kingdom purpose. Look at it this way-- suppose I am a surgeon and I join a group of volunteers with “Habitat for Humanity” that is building houses for the poor. I may be able to drive a nail or put up drywall and I am doing some good, but my specialty is going to waste because I am in the wrong place. My place would be to volunteer on “Mercy Ship” or some other medical charity organization in order to use my skills and fulfill my purpose to its full potential. People need to be set free and even guided to find their place and purpose, rather than being prevented and discouraged from discovering where they best belong. Whatever best fulfills Kingdom purpose is what should be our highest priority. It is not about what’s best for me or what is best for my fellowship of believers, it is about what will best advance the Kingdom and glorify the King. I don’t believe in “fellowship hopping” just because we don’t like something or because someone has offended us. However don’t let “religious guilt trips” stop you from finding your true place in the Kingdom.

The King and His Kingdom are on the move, and I certainly don’t want to be left behind because I am out of place. As a friend of mine always says, “Don’t just GO to church, BE the Church!”

“For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jew or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free: and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member but many. If the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now God hath set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him.” “But now we are many members yet but one body.” “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now we are the body of Christ and members in particular.” I Cor. 12:12-18, 20, 26-27