So, we are in adult Sunday school class talking about the Godly way to confront someone. The way that conflict resolution should be handled by Christians is lined out pretty specifically in the Word. So the topic of confrontation wasn't the "odd ball" issue for this particular blog. What happened was the conversation turned to new church members (those who are from other church's and tend to "church hop). Because I work in a very busy church office and I see alot of church drama caused by ill meaning church people and the propensity for strife that is caused by most church hoppers, I have a strong opinion about it. I stated this, "I think that Baptist churches, in general, are lacking in their procedures concerning allowing people to come forward and become a COVENANT member of the church. Especially when it comes to people from the community who have a reputation of leaving churches abruptly and are usually in the middle of a quarrel within the church." Then I said, "We ask for more background information to get a movie store membership than we do about new church members." Well . . . that wasn't taken easily by some. In fact, one lady was so beside herself that she said, "Well Marilyn, that's just like us saying we don't want you to be in leadership or a part of fellowship because you used to deal with the occult." Completely off the subject! To which I stated, "We are not talking about our lives BEFORE Christ. We are talking about our lives within the Church body. Now, had I been using wicca during my time as a Christian then you could say that but that doesn't fit with the topic we have right now." Sometimes it's hard for her to stay on subject and she's very emotional. I wasn't trying to say that we subject everyone to an FBI style investigation before allowing them to join. I'm simply saying that if we KNOW someone has a history of church hopping and that strife, conflict and deceit seem to follow them then we need to be good stewards of our church and put them on some sort of probationary period. Just to see if they have in fact, changed their ways, repented and are no longer acting that way. Personally, I am sick of people joining the church and then you either never hear from them again and they just sit on the "roll" only to be hear from again when they need a letter of recommendation. I'm sick of people joining churches like they are switching underwear and leaving a traumatized wreck in their path as they move on to yet another unsuspecting church. Wolves in sheep's clothing. That's my rant. -M
Rant away, dear sister in Christ! Sometimes we just have to process these things.
I go to a small nondenominational church and we suffer as well from these church hoppers. Our typical hopper comes, decides they like us, goes through our orientation class for several weeks to hear what we're all about and what we stand for and who we are. Then they join the church, bond with us, and suddenly decide there's a doctrinal difference they can't abide (post- or pre-trib rapture?) (keeping the Sabbath, what exactly do we think that means?) Or, that we don't offer enough programs and youth group meetings to keep their darlings busy 7 nights a week -- and then they leave, as you say, leaving destruction or wreckage -- division -- behind.
And your lady that brought up your past in this context -- well, you're right. That absolutely was irrelevant!!
Ah, come quickly, Lord Jesus.
I agree with you that it's frustrating that people bounce from church to church because of conflicts but personally I've been in that situation. Sometimes a pastor might stop feeding you to what you need in your life or you might disagree with something that is actually revelant. If we disagree with something from the Bible then we are wrong and should change our minds but religion is man made and open to interpretation. However, like you said, you can only watch their actions like all people do to every Christian, especially how the lost wait for us to stumble. I think you need to patient and not put as much as thought concern into the people that leave like a flash of light. You also can't close the door on them because obviously they aren't true believers but what if we caused them to stumble by not being good stewards? You could cost someone their salvation by treating them differently by turning them away from not feeling a part of the body. We were all once outsiders and it was hard to feel accepted after confessing our sins but we grew with the Body of Christ. You have to be fair and treat everyone the same though because they might have bounced before but what if your church body is the one that gets thru to them? If you make them feel like it's some kind of process to be a part of your body, it could turn them away like i said before. Pray on it and I'll be praying for you
How about this: do not concern yourself with a background investigation of those "church hoppers", but perhaps an internal investigation of your church and why so many members of your church want to promote such strife.
God commands us to love one another.
There are no qualifications attached. There are no limitations attached. There are no criteria attached. There is no background investigation attached.
Perhaps if your members reached out to these church "hoppers" in love, acceptance, understanding and humility, these "hoppers" would become "stayers" who would not feel it necessary to provide a plausible excuse as a reason to leave a church filled with strife.
Pray for those who have not yet found a church to call home. Pray they find the peace and joy in a good church filled with loving Christians who are not so quick to judge someone upon their past.
Perhaps there is a sort of misunderstanding to my rant.
First, we don't have an influx of "church hoppers" the discussion was just a topical discussion. There are lots of names on the roll of the church (from way before we came) that we've never seen.
Second, When I spoke about church hopping I wasn't referring to one instance where a pastor treated someone inappropriately or was a tyrant. That wasn't my focus because if you feel that the leadership isn't approachable or not teaching the Truth then by all means you should find another church family. You do this humbly and you do it with integrity.
What I was speaking about are those folks who have joined more than 2 churches in a year. I was speaking about those people who leave a church simply because they feel they have no control over things and in leaving they cause a bad scene and try to take as many with them as they can. I'm speaking of those who, instead of dealing with disagreements in a Biblical way, pout and cause a ruckus.
Thirdly, I don't judge people by their church past. I don't wait at the sanctuary door and ask them how many churches they've been to. However, if I meet someone who has an extensive history of being a member of various churches in a short span of time well then I pause. I don't hate them or treat them w/out love and understanding. I do however pray that they are in the church to grow and become a loving member of the body and not there to cause strife and dissention.
There are no qualifications to be a Christian but when you make a profession of faith . . . there are standards that Christ calls you to, especially concerning the Church. We are all held to those standards.
I know what you mean. We had one couple in our church (two churches ago) who joined and immediately was made leadership, despite my DH's concerns about them and requests NOT to put them in power (this particular church had a really hard time following ANY pastor's leadership). And this couple was what I like to term "pastor killers". You know those people who seem to just want to make their pastoral family's lives so difficult with gossip and strife that they make the pastor want to leave. We did eventually leave, but not for THAT reason. After we left, we found out that this couple had left a trail of churches (and pastors) in their wake-- one right after another. And their MO was the same everywhere they went.
As to this particular situation, my guess is the lady who said that about you was responding to an unintentional personal affront. Perhaps she left a church on bad terms before coming to the present one-- or perhaps her son or someone close to her. In my experience, people rarely bite at someone unless they perceive that they have been bitten. (not always true-- but generally). Not to say that you stepped on her toes intentionally-- but toes may have been squished nonetheless.
I do see your point of placing new members in leadership roles in the Church without appropriate prayer and discussion. The Bible is indeed very clear about the requirements of Church leadership. Both 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy, along with other books of the New Testament, lay out the foundation of the Church and how its leadership is to be selected. Pray that your Church is Biblical in its structure and in its selection of Church leadership. Your Church and your pastor need your prayers more than any of us may realize.
The standards of the follower of Christ are not really so much standards, but requirements if we are to be true in our walk with Christ. However, who amongst us has not stumbled? The Bible tells us there there is no one, not one, who is righteous. And these are believers to whom the Bible is referring!
All I am saying is that perhaps we all need to understand that our Church and our relationship with Jesus are built on and with love. Love the sinner, despise the sin. We each have our gifts from God. Let's use them in the edification of the Church body and in the Christian development of fellow believers.
I have personally experienced many Churches in my life. Most of my movement from Church to Church has been due to my physical relocation to another area. There is only one time in my life that I left a Church without moving to another city or state. I left that Church to go to another, friendlier Church that seemed to really care about me as a person and about me as a fellow believer. I wasn't worried about doctrine, pre- or post- rapture trib, or speaking in tongues. I needed a Chuch body that reached out in fellowship to me.
One of the reasons people church hop is because they may have grown up in denominational churches that didn't fully teach the Word, or have demonstrations of the Holy Spirit in power. Or, once they've been to such a church they are unwilling to make the changes that are required of them. I go to a non denominational church, that is heavy on teaching the Word and how to apply it to your life. I've met a lot of people that USED to attend and whether they want to admit to it or not, weren't ready to make the changes God requires of them- because once you know the Word, you held accountable by God for what you know. That can make a person feel very uncomfortable, or maybe these church hoppers are like some of my family members, that used to attend the same church I do, one Sunday morning the Holy Spirit read their mail, and they were offended by the Word. No amount of love can change that kind of hurt, because it requires an internal effort to want to submit to the Word and Will of God. Maybe some of those church hoppers are in that position...