Is Church Shopping the highway to Heaven or the road to hell?
The answer will surprise many because the real question should be why are we doing this in the first place. Are we doing this to find a Church that fits our beliefs and if that is the case is the purpose of the Church?
The purpose of the Church is not to be solely entertained- the purpose of the Church is to share the full Gospel and live the teachings of Jesus Christ. Can by definition a church that started 1500 years after the death of Jesus know as much as the Church that was established by Jesus and his Apostles? The answer is clear: no, no, no. No way, no shape, and no form could the two be comparable. Now, someone might ask what do people get out of shopping?
Shopping in the 21st century has taken on a much different flavor than at any time in the history of the world. In the late 1950’s you would load up your car and drive to the newest mall and do your shopping. It was a fun and pleasant experience- sort of Disneyland for merchants and consumers. In the 1960’s you would begin to buy things through catalogs or mail orders. A real homage to the people who were this generation's parents, grandparents, and great grandparents who would buy through catalogs almost every aspect of their goods. Now in the 21st century, we pull out our phones, search an app and immediately purchase something and then get mad if we can get it in a one-day delivery.
That is shopping in the 21st century-quick, impersonal, and normally over the phone. This may sound like a very odd religious topic, but it is actually leading to what may be the biggest problem in our society today-the impersonal nature of Church Shopping.
People today are hurting, they are looking, and they are hungry for the truth, correct? Well, you would think so. However, this may not be the case.
Plato had the cave. Today I will explain about a death. Suppose you were a defense attorney and your client was charged with murder. You know your client is not guilty but you do not have any evidence or witnesses to make a strong case for you in the courtroom. The judge that will hear the case is fair but very strict. The ADA you are going against can not stand you and has been a pain in your side for the past four years. As it gets closer to the time when you have to present your case you are faced with these problems:
Your client does not work well under cross-examination and you feel that you can not put him on the stand
One of your witnesses saw another person at the crime scene, he can identify this person-but this witness is not without his own flaws. He has gotten in trouble with the law before and you are afraid that the ADA will attack his credibility by attacking him.
Your second witness is very entertaining and charismatic. He can talk and convince people of anything but he is a character witness only- he never had personal knowledge of the events that led to death.
Your third witness wants to help, but is neither charismatic nor has any first-hand knowledge of the crime. He again is a character witness
Should you go shopping for another witness?
The answer to this question well-led you right into today’s story.
Back three years ago on Crosswalk. com, Kathy Howard wrote the following about Church Shopping:
Recently, my husband and I moved to a new town—again. In 34 years of marriage, our family has moved eight times. Our first priority in a new place, other than getting sheets on the beds, has always been to find a new church home.
This search process usually begins with a battle—a battle inside of me. The church shopping mentality threatens to take control. My personal desires try to push their way to the front.
I want a church that … I’m looking for a church that will … I’d really love for our new church to … Wouldn’t it be nice if …
I have this idea of the church I want. It combines the best of our past church homes. Incredible, worshipful music. Solid, engaging teaching. Believers that do life together. Heavily involved in missions. Strong community outreach. Active women’s ministry.
And we could look for a church like that and probably find one. We could make a list of all the attributes we desire in a church and compare each one we visit to that list. Does this one meet our criteria? Does that one make the cut? Do we cross off that last church?
But Lord helps us—and I mean that as a prayer—I don’t want to find our new church home that way. In fact, I will boldly say, God doesn’t want us to find our new church home that way. I don’t want to choose my favorite; I want to search for and find the church God has already chosen for us.
The term “church shopping” rubs me the wrong way. Yet, sadly, not only do many of us use it, but it also adequately describes how many of us look for a church. We shop for one like we do a car or a prom dress or laundry detergent. We scour the community for one with all the desirable features. Then we chose the one that will serve and suit us best. After all, we want to get the most “bang for our buck.”
Wow, what a brilliant article and how it really hit the nail on the head about Church Shopping.
According to the Urban Dictionary Church Shopping means To go to a new church every Sunday, usually churches of different Christian denominations, in hopes of finding one where the pastor approves of things that believe in or simply wish to be true as well as things like wearing jeans to church.
Now, we have established what Church Shopping is defined-let us take a more deep approach and look at why this is bad. There are four major reasons why it is not a good idea to Church Shop.
First, Church Shopping is very common amongst some people and some particular Churches. These churches are more centered on the pastor than the service and the pastor becomes the focal point of interest on the service or the Liturgy. Here, simply put, people are going out to see if they can find a pastor or a priest that they like. What is wrong with this you may ask? Are they not going to Church? You are right they are attending Church but going to Church because you like the pastor or the priest will not get you to heaven. You have to understand that the purpose of attending Church has little to do with this earth and what you like. Rather it and always has been you are looking for something to fit your beliefs. Is this what God wants? Are we supposed to follow His wishes or our wishes?
Second, in today’s society, people are Church shopping by attending several live stream services each Sunday. Now, you can easily attend four or five Churches every Sunday. You watch the service until you get bored or tired of it and then change your channel. It is very simple to do. The problem is that once again Church attendance is not watching something visually on your computer screen, phone screen, or on your TV- it is actually following and living the words of Jesus Christ. We should be seekers of the truth, not the truth. The difference is that there is only one truth- it is God’s truth and not our truth. John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself: but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak. And the things that are to come, he shall show you.
Third, if everyone attended Church in this manner what would happen to every Church? A Church is supported by the community. It is rarely supported by people who consistently attend a service seeking to find the perfect Church. Are you not going to the hospital in a life-threatening situation simply because the hospital is full of sick people? Of course not. Then I ask you why are you staying away from Church for similar reasons? John 8:32 And you shall know the truth: and the truth shall make you free.
Fourth, Jesus showed us the way we should live. We should follow his commands and teachings. We should not follow our own teachings especially when they are opposed to the commands and teachings of Jesus Christ. John 14:6 Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.
Church Shopping- if you are doing stop to think about this: are you seeking the Lord’s truth or your truth? Are you seeking to find a Church that goes along with your beliefs or are you seeking one that goes along with God’s beliefs? This is a serious problem because none of us know how much longer we will have on this earth.
If we are shopping because we enjoy the experience, ask the Lord if we are really doing His work or our work? When the answer comes up that we are doing this for the wrong reasons, do you not think that we should stop? Do you think that we should go the one true Catholic and Apostolic Church? Amen