Church Hopping. Definitions:
- To go from one Church to another Church, experiencing many worshipping services.
- To attend more than one Church service and partake in many other Church activities, other than your usual Church.
*can I please hear it in a sentence?* (if you didn’t get that spelling bee joke, then you may struggle through the rest of this)
“Margaret had been Church hopping for three months now. She’s Church hopped from Baptist Ministries, to Christian Survivors, Knight Templars, Heavens Gate, Peoples Temple and the list just goes on and on.”
3. A church hopper is someone who desires not to settle at any particular local church, but would rather hop from church to church to suit their yearnings and/or, someone who finds themselves at a different church every couple of years for reasons beyond relocation, doctrine and philosophy of ministry.
Firstly, A quick look at church membership.
First, it is important to understand the purpose of church attendance and/or membership. When Christians unite with a local body of believers, they are following the model for the local church as seen in Acts 2:41-42: “Those who accepted his [Peter’s] message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” These early Christians met in the temple courts and in their own homes to continue in praise and worship (Acts 2:46-47). In addition, believers came together to minister to one another the gifts of the Holy Spirit, who distributes those gifts to His people in order for us to edify—build up—one another in the faith (Ephesians 4:7-13).
Now that we have some context… let us begin!
Let’s be very real and very honest, as a millenials we have our favourite pastors and favourite churches that are absolutely not the churches we attend.
Some of us follow theologians, apologists, critical thinkers, cool celebrity pastors, global worship teams and so much more.
When we can, we watch their YouTube videos and follow them on Instagram and Facebook. We are already, as it would seem, online members, we are a part of their online communities.
We’ve dreamt of actually attending a service one day… but we all know, bunking your church to go to another church is a big no no. Or maybe the pastor or minister or church isn’t even local, it may be in another city or country.
Even though we view these online services, we’re not ‘plugged in’. Even if we think we are. We don’t serve in a ministerial department, contribute to service or worship, and we definitely don’t pay our tithes into these ministries. Why, because for most of us, we’re already plugged in and committed to our own church…OR… we don’t go to church at all *major side eye*. We simply consume the content as and when we can.
Conversely, you may be a Christian who doesn’t subscribe to the “other church” philosophy: you don’t visit other churches, listen to other preachers, or engage with other denominations out of personal choice or dictation.
The Covid-19 pandemic has completely shut down the world, the earth is closed! We are in the middle of a global crisis. Nothing is the same. Life as we know it has changed.
Churches have closed their doors. Congregating is lawfully forbidden and prohibited. No more Sunday service, no more midweek fellowship. No more Sunday school. No choir practice and no Bible study.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the Body of Christ to convene online.
Next to Instagram lives and Zoom conference calls, online church services are now one of the biggest streaming sensations during this pandemic.
So guess what that means? Now we get to attend all our favourite churches, listen to all our favourite preachers, worship with Hilsong at 10am then Bethel at 11am, Hip Hop away with Transformation church & Pastor Mike Todd, then move in the Spirit with The Potters House & Bishop T.D Jakes at 3pm.
So as God would have it, He made a way for us to visit all our favourite churches in real time! *sings Travis Green – made a way, close your eyes, raise your hand and sing with me!*
We are officially church hopping… Some of us are going to three or more different church services on a Sunday.
Isn’t it great?!?!
It’s absolutely fantastic! If I do say so myself.
If you’ve grown up in church or if you actively serve in your church, you will know that attending another church is not only a difficult task that involves church politics and the sense of abandonment, but it’s most of the time just not possible.
It’s amazing that the Body of Christ is very present in 21st century technology. The church has definitely moved with the times technologically wise, for its betterment and the edification of all those who have eyes and ears to witness it.
- It’s given us the opportunity to share church with people who wouldn’t naturally walk into a church building.
- It’s given people the opportunity to share Christ with others in a less confronting manner.
- It’s given people who have been hurt by the church before the ability to reconnect.
- It’s given people the opportunity to dispel the myths they have about church.
- It’s allowed people to be fed so much more, to pray so much more, to worship so much more, and to evangelise so much more.
You may have Christian friends/family who do not attend your church and now with online fellowship you can now share in the same church experience. You may appreciate other worship styles or other topical discussions that your church is not covering.
We know faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God - Romans 10:17. So shouldn’t we be glad and take this new opportunity to hear so much more of God’s Word as a good thing? We know that iron sharpens iron - Proverbs 27:17. Building ourselves up by engaging in more Christian content is surely a good thing, not so? Wouldn’t we rather be consuming godly content than secular content? Isn't this a time for us to draw nearer to God? We have less commitments, less distractions and more time. Seeking and calling upon God - Isaiah 55:6. Desiring God, ‘as the deer pants for the water’ and all that jazz- Psalm 42:1 1 Peter 2:2 NKJV says, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,” isn’t it a good sign when God’s children desire more of His Word? Don't neglect the gathering of the saints - Hebrews 10:25, is a very real passage of scripture. We can’t gather physically, so we are gathering online.
Online church hopping is all done in good faith!
There are however, questions from the opposing camp, or indeed questions we must take into consideration:
- Are you being a traitor?
Is it disloyal? If you’re not viewing your own online streaming service but are viewing others – then YES! If you prioritise or value other services above your own then, yes. Your church should always take prominence over everything else.
Also. Just because you church hop doesn’t mean you dislike or badmouth your own church (don’t gossip, God don’t kike ugly), yes their praise n worship may be better than yours but.. so what?!?!?
Pause! Make sure you’re still paying your tithes! That part of the church isn’t closed lol.
- “But can I not just take a break from my church?”
Does Jesus take a break from you?!?! Lol. No, I’m playing. Accountability is still very important even if we’re not congregating together. You’re still being shepherded and your participation however remotely it may be, is still very much welcomed.
Remember, there is no distance in the Spirit
- Are you being confronted with too many different narratives and/or doctrines?
Could it be damaging us? Or causing confusion? There is definitely a possibility to get confused when you take in too many different interpretations of text. Doctrine is so important. Knowing what you believe and why you believe it and WHERE ITS LOCATED IN THE BIBLE is first and foremost our personal responsibility. Then seeking out ministers or ministries that align with said belief is where wisdom is applied. If a minister says something that disagrees with your beliefs, check it out in the Bible, correct/reaffirm your understanding in the Word of God. You don’t have to continue watching and neither do you have to completely right-off the minister, sometimes they get it wrong too.
- Are you less likely to return to your own church post pandemic?
Highly unlikely, unless we were already one foot out of the door, I doubt we’ll suddenly want to jump ship. And plus, the grass is seldomly ever greener on the other side. Every church has their issues.
- Could it make you a lazy, spoiled, pampered Christian?
Could it make you a Christian who just seeks to be serviced and not serve others by constantly seeking the next ‘fill’? Maybe, if you’re already that way inclined. But if you live a life of service, a few months of quarantining and online church hopping isn’t going to remove the very fabric of your nature.
So , what’s driving this trend in online church hopping?
For some, it’s simply the consumer mindset of our culture at work.
“Church ‘hopping’ is the ultimate ‘all about me’ experience.” We take from various churches whatever it is we perceive to be of value without committing to any one church
For some, it’s insecurity.
We have to be wherever we think it’s “happening” in the Christian world. “Oh this pastor is big on Instagram right now, that’s where I’m headed!” Some of us millennials are constantly church-hopping to the “next” thing in church life.
For some, it’s spiritual gluttony.
We want nothing more than to be “fed,” and when we feel we’ve eaten all a church has to offer, we move on to where there is the potential for more food.
Wait! Can gluttony for God’s word be a bad thing? (That may be a discussion for another day)
So, is Online Church Hopping good or not?
For most of us, online church hopping is just our way of actively seeking more of God. It fulfils our desire for the Word and Worship. We are seeking the voice of God. We are trying to live in His presence daily. For most of us, we may never get this much time to devote to God again. Before the cares of this world choke the seed, we’re planting as many Seeds into our Spirit as possible. Our earnest desire is simply for More Of God. For direction. For edification. For healing. For a breakthrough. For a miracle. Our longing is for God.
So for the vast majority, online church hopping is harmless.
For those people who struggle to study the Word of God for themselves, this is their source of knowledge.
For those of us who can spend the whole day personally studying the Bible for ourselves, online services form as our confirmation of God’s Word and gives us practical application of scripture.
So to conclude…
Church hopping in the physical sense, is probably not the wisest of things to do… but church hopping online is definitely the motive for right now, until those church doors reopen – keep consuming godly content. Edify your mind and soul.
We may never get this opportunity again.
Is this you? Church hopping online during quarantine