I recently visited a friend's church and found I liked it better than my own. The people were friendlier, the worship more lively, and they had a lot of wonderful programs I know my kids would enjoy. On the other hand, there's nothing "wrong" with the church I attend now. Is it okay to leave one church simply because you like another one better?
—Sue, via e-mail
Sue, although the Bible tells us it's important to attend church on a regular basis (Heb. 10:25), there's no law—Scriptural or otherwise—that says we have to be members of a particular gathering of believers. Or that once we join a congregation we can never, ever leave! Churches change, as do we, the people who make up the congregation. Sometimes we find we've outgrown a church or we're no longer in step with the direction it has taken. Perhaps it doesn't offer the kind of teaching we need to help us grow in our walk with Christ, or the kind of activities and outreaches that are relevant to our particular circumstances (younger or older, married or single, with or without kids). It may seem that there's not much opportunity at the church for us to give or serve or exercise our spiritual gifts.
At the same time, I would advise against becoming "church-hopping Christians"—going from place to place in search of the "perfect" church, which doesn't exist. We don't just leave one congregation for another when the going gets tough, whenever we hear something we don't like or are asked to sacrifice a little of our time and energy to help out. It's important to seek God for direction, and be obedient to however He leads.
The fact is that some churches will be a better fit for us than others. It's not a sin to switch, as long as you do so carefully and prayerfully—without being overly critical or condemning of the church you're leaving. You have the privilege and responsibility to find a fellowship that will be a blessing to your family, and that allows you to use your spiritual gifts and resources to be a blessing in return.
Christin Ditchfield is the host of the syndicated radio program Take It To Heart, and the author of A Family Guide to Narnia: Biblical Truths in C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia (Crossway).
Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian magazine.
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