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?
Jeff ClarkPosted at 22:25h, 05 June
“Of course you use the King James don’t you?”
“Of course the dress for Sunday is blue suit, white shirt and tie for the men and dresses & heels for the women.. and a service including choir in holy and majestic choir robes…” uh.. you what?…
Creig TwilleyPosted at 14:10h, 09 June
The “real” pastor will come visit me in the hospital or will I get a second stringer?
Great Blog Brian!!!
PS…I think the worship team should wear holy and majestic robes. That would be cool!:)
annonomousPosted at 21:58h, 19 October
I think its important to take people as they are. Its also important not to judge or label a person. Right now I am a church hopper. And ill be honest my faith is faltering in god and in jesus. Im not sure I should be offended over this blog or if it is intended as a different way and im taking it wrong. It vomes off as vomplaining about people
Brian MossPosted at 11:58h, 22 October
You’re right. We should love and accept people, but real love also encourages them to be better than they are. The article is not meant to complain, but to simply state that many churchgoers drift into a “what’s in it for me” mentality. Jesus calls us to a “what can I give” mentality. The difference is night and day. I would encourage you to not give up on God/Jesus. He will never let you down. Churches and church leaders like me, will fall short. He won’t.
BobbyPosted at 13:47h, 06 June
I think all Pastor Brian is trying to say is, don’t focus on what you can get, instead on what you can give. The leader must be a servant, it’s better to give than receive type of thing. Sometimes I tend to focus too much on “knowing” the Bible than applying it in my life. Pastor Gordon told me a few months ago to consider how important the information is based on how you can apply it in your life. So if this shines a light on an attitude that I might commonly express, then I might wanna evaluate if it’s healthy and try make my actions reflect value for the same things that Jesus valued (humility, honesty compassion…)
Brian MossPosted at 14:43h, 06 June
Well said. In fact, better than I said it. 🙂
Rick LawrensonPosted at 15:12h, 06 June
Great words, Brian. We discourage church hoppers and try to get them to see what they might do to build up their church rather than leave it. And, we’ve discovered that if they left one church dissatisfied that their needs/wants weren’t being met, it won’t be long before they will leave us for the same kinds of reasons.
And when they find out we expect commitment, involvement in ministry and outreach, they usually go shopping elsewhere.
Brian MossPosted at 16:07h, 06 June
Good feedback. Thanks Rick!