My family spent quite some time ‘church hunting’ the year before last. 8 months. We left the church that we’d easily settled into for numerous reasons, but then we found ourselves in the equivalent of no-man’s land. With a church on every corner, we still couldn’t find one we liked. After 8 long months of church shopping (church hopping?) we found one that we love. And now it factors into all our major decisions – finances, potential moves, schedules, and such. We won’t make a decision that would compromise our commitment to our church.
Churches have made enormous efforts to attract business, radically altering their worship services and scrapping traditional rites and rituals when these fail to draw the crowds. The adoption of consumerist attitudes has even worse effects on church life when it comes to the teaching of unpopular doctrine. Any serious affront a church attender encounters in the teaching at one church can be avoided by simply finding another church, another brand, whose teaching fits more comfortably.
I find the idea of a church as a brand somewhat disturbing (especially when it involves shopping for ‘popular,’ or people pleasing, teaching), but it’s often quite true. I don’t know if it’s the same everywhere, but here in comfortable suburbia, there’s a church (or two or three) on every corner, and the competition for attenders (and tithers) is fierce. Because of it, finding a ‘suitable’ church can take quite some time, and a great deal of frustration.
Dear reader, what’s the balance? When is it worthwhile to seek out a new church? And how much should churches cater to the whims of the ‘market’? What’s the balance between commitment to a body of believers, and finding something that satisfies your own church needs?