Ah, summer. That time of the year when disgruntled church members, under the cloud of vacation season, do a little church shopping. Sometimes referred to as church hoppers, these are consumer Christians who are unhappy at their present church and feel the grass is probably greener across town.
We’ve gotten our share over the years. Although they often mask as a prospect for the gospel, they’re not hard to identify through a brief conversation.
How, pray tell, can I identify church (s)hoppers?
By the questions they ask.
Church (s)hoppers are usually interested in what the church can do for them.
Specifically, they tend to be looking for 3 things.
1. Music they like.
Church (s)hoppers want to know if we play the music that they like. This preference varies based on age, background, and prior church experience, but the bottom line is they want their music served up their way.
“Hey, does this church base its musical style on what can best reach the lost?” asked no church (s)hopper ever.
2. Ministries that cater to their needs.
Church (s)hoppers want to know very quickly if we have ministries that meet their needs/wants.
“Does this church have…”
- Youth Ministry
- College Ministry
- Women’s Ministry
- Men’s Ministry
- Singles Ministry
- Senior Adult Ministry
- Hand bells
- Sunday School
- and the list goes on…
None of these ministries are bad or wrong. The point is the heart behind the question.
“How can I best use my gifts to help this church reach the lost?” asked no church (s)hopper ever.
3. Messages that are “deep.”
The clarion call of the disgruntled disciple is, “I’m not being fed,” and church (s)hoppers will often let you know how their former church failed to feed them.
Thus, the seasoned (s)hopper wants to know how this church is going to step up to the plate and offer them some new biblical cuisine that will titillate their finicky palate.
Often stated in questions like, “What Bible studies or discipleship classes do you offer?” Or, “What do you do for mature Christians?”
Church (s)hoppers often come with a resume letting you know how lucky you’d be to have them. Also, they usually snub their nose at the basic discipleship classes considering them to be beneath them. They have a “been there, done that” attitude.
“Does this church emphasize biblical application over information with specific actionable steps?” Or, “Does this church stay focused on the essential doctrines of the faith that will challenge me to love God and people more deeply?” asked no church (s)hopper ever.
And so, just as one applies sunscreen to protect from harmful rays, smart churches use a membership class that helps to screen out church (s)hoppers by stating up front the mission, vision, structure, strategies, and membership expectations. We do this through CLASS 101 – Introduction to Membership. It’s a great filter for the “not our target.”
What would you add to this shoppers list?