You can’t make people stay.
These days, Christians tend to church-shop more than previous decades.
Sometimes it’s because they’ve moved to another part of town or a different town altogether. Moves and career changes are far more frequent these days, and therefore, a person’s local church may change more frequently.
Sometimes it’s a more personal reason, because of a change within the church. Or perhaps it’s just because the people want or need a church-change?
We can go back and forth on why a Christian should or shouldn’t leave a particular church; but the bottom line is, it happens and in this day and age, it’s quite common.
Why do people church-shop?
When Christians go church shopping or hopping, they look for different things, depending on their age, ethnicity, family make-up, church background, etc. The reasons why a Christian chooses a particular church are as varied as Christians themselves.
- Some want to sneak in the back and be left alone.
- Others expect to be greeted warmly upon entry and hope for a lunch invitation after the service.
- For a family with young kids, they’ll be taking a careful look at the Children’s Ministry.
- A family with teens will want information about the youth group.
- Worship style (though polarizing) continues to be a very important component of church shopping.
- Local service and outreach opportunities can be a major focus for some.
- And yet, for others, foreign missions’ is the primary focus.
I know, I know, “But what about the preaching?”
Well, some like a verse-by-verse scholastic approach. Others prefer thematic, application-driven preaching.
Does the pastor tell jokes? Does the pastor use tangible illustrations? Does the pastor use images, graphics or videos? (Depending on the church shopper and their church background, these items can be viewed as assets or liabilities.)
What about the Bible?
At this point, perhaps you’re thinking…
- What about being Biblical?
- What about the church’s doctrinal statement?
- What about the leadership structure?
- What about theological position on the major issues of culture and society?”
These are good questions. These are actually great questions! But they’re not often the first questions asked by a Christian coming into a new church. And we can’t change that.
But maybe we don’t need to?
For us, we who are already attending and participating in a local church week in and week out, these are our questions. We should be asking ourselves these questions each and every day of our lives.
Why? Because these are the heavy questions, the questions that take hard work and accountability to answer.
Scripture teaches us, and church history shows us, that these are the questions that will protect the local church and every Christian in it, regardless of being a long-time member or a first-time church shopper.