Nine times. In my twenty-some-odd years, I have changed churches nine times. I have only been in seven different churches, though, because I revisited one of them twice and another one of them once. That makes it slightly better, right?
I realized a while back much to my devastation that I had been a church hopper up until that point. You know, one of those people. I would out at the first sign of trouble. Even if there was no trouble, I might have left because of a doctrinal issue or music style. Church was all about me. Every pastor’s or elder’s nightmare.
For a long time I blamed it on the trouble and the differences of opinion. After all if Christians would just behave the way they are supposed to, there wouldn’t be tension. Because we would all be perfect. And madly in love with each other. The end. And if Christians would just read their Bibles, surely they would come to the conclusions I had. And we would all agree all of the time. And then we come full circle to that whole “no tension” thing. With this mindset of it being someone else’s problem and out of my control, I quickly became a victim. And I remained one for years.
So I was kind of a lame church hopper.
A few years ago I realized that if I was only loving people the way I should have been, I wouldn’t have my church hopping problem. As everyone will tell you, love is not a feeling. It’s a verb. Love involves self-sacrifice, like what Christ did for us.
This is so counter-cultural. We have this human mindset that our feelings and opinions matter more than anyone else’s. I’m telling you, though, as a recovering church hopper, I’ve had to set that mindset aside. I’ve had to adopt a mindset that says instead, “We are a body. We are to be interdependent, looking out for each other. How can I effectively love my sisters and brothers?”
I’m still growing in this. After a game of hopscotch last year and an ensuing church sabbatical, I am back in church. By God’s grace, I will respond to tension and differing opinions with love. Because leaving is not an option.