I recently heard a preacher preach about a common phenomenon in all of Christiandom, the church hopper.
What is a church hopper? It is one who simply moves from church to church following the next big “high.” When a new exciting pastor comes to town, they go join it. We often see this when a Mega Church grows at the expense of many smaller churches. In the city in which I live, I have seen some jump from church to church as pastors come and go. One very dynamic preacher left town and the migration to another powerful speaker started. Then a new preacher came to town and now the “place to be” moved to that new locale.
However, sometimes a church hopper moves to a new church for added responsibility. Sometimes a church hopper comes to a new church because the leader of the new church has inspired action that gives added spiritual growth and ultimately a stronger witess in the community and the world. Sometimes church hopping may strengthen the member. Sometimes God may even call you to move to another church and the community is strengthened. Sometimes church hopping can be a blessing.
However, much of the time people church hop not to be involved in the church community or to be stronger witnesses in the larger commuinity, but to find better religous entertainment to consume. That entertainment may be preaching, singing, or programs put on by the church.
But then there are other hoppers who have been displaced or run off by new leadership. Sometimes when a new pastor comes to town current leadership of a church takes the time to move on. Other times pastors move some current leadership out. Some pastors displace the leadership in a church when they come into a church. These people have been sat down by the pastor for whatever reason. Sometimes the pastor has a valid reason for setting them down, sometimes they don’t.
The preacher’s main point is that none of these really increase the number of Adventists. Neither does it really increase the amount of people who have heard the message we have been called to preach. Tithe may increase at that local congregation, attendance may increase locally, but church hopping does not normally increase the number of Adventist members in the city.
Why are we here and what are we to do? If we are here to “preach the Gospel of the kingdom for a witness to all the world.” Then it is time to judge our ministries and our work by whether it is providing a witness in the world and whether we are warning the world of the coming crisis. It is time for us to stop acting as if church is solely about our needs and our entertainment and recognize the responsibility of church membership and Get in the game. It is time for all members to move into that category of member that is not just an attender but a minister.