A USA Today article I just ran across tells of a survey of folks who switched churches and found that most did so without moving residences—they switched churches while in the same town. The article says in part,
Most of the switchers who changed their house of worship without making a residential move (58%) say their old church failed to engage their faith, or put their talents to work, or it seemed hypocritical or judgmental.According to the study, people who moved churches chose the new church because:
• Beliefs or doctrines of the church: 89%The full text of the article is online here: Dissatisfaction, yearning make churchgoers switch.
• Authenticity of church members/pastor: 88%
• Quality of the preaching: 87%
• Prefer the worship style: 80%
• Found more evidence of God's work/changed lives: 76%
• New church cares for the community: 76%
On the one hand, I am in favor of people finding the right church for him or her and their family. On the other hand, I wonder if we look for a church that will make us feel comfortable. Should we be comfortable? Would we seek a church that makes us feel challenged? And, how much do we challenge ourselves to live out the Gospel fully and how much do we avoid this.
Switching churches is common. That's not an all bad phenomenon and can be quite healthy. I know that I benefitted from finding my way to the Episcopal Church, for example. This isn't a pro-Episcopal statement so much as an acknowledgement that I found the part of the Body of Christ that is both comfortable and challenging for me.
But switching churches can also be an excuse not to settle down and deal with the issues being brought up in a given place. So when is it good and godly to move? When is it better to stay and deal with the stuff staying brings up? What do y'all think? What is your experience?
For one thoughtful answer, try Richard's For whom the church? post in which he asks,
Why should anyone remain in a community where their life in Christ is no longer nurtured or deepened?This en route to considering whether worship is for God or for us and decides on a both/and solution.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor