This post is another installment in the series, “Defining a Church Planter”. Read all the posts related to this series.
“Church hopping” is a term used in evangelical circles that describes the behavior or pattern of someone who “hops” from one church to another. Often people who church hop are those who are actively looking for a new church to attend, don’t attend church consistently enough to have joined a “home” church, or intentionally choose not to commit to a single church or community of faith for a variety of reasons. For us as church planters, it has become a valuable method for learning about our community and culture.
I typically would not advocate for church hopping over an extended period of time as I believe it’s vital as a Christian to be committed to a family of faith in your community. Growing as a follower of Jesus is maximized when done in the context of a church body that you are personally invested in and they in you. (See Acts 2:42-47 for a first-century example of this).
Although Mary and I have a formal “sending church” (a church that acts as a sponsor for our church plant) where we attend on a regular basis and network with others, we have found ourselves also in a season of church hopping. We have be using our visits to other churches to network with pastors and congregations, experience a variety of approaches to ministry in our context, and get a pulse of the spiritual climate in and around our community.
We have enjoyed hearing the sermons from a variety of gifted pastors, expressions and liturgy of worship, singing songs with brothers and sisters in Christ whom we have never met, sharing the Lord’s supper with others, and making countless observations that are helping us define Restoration Church in our context. We’re learning from those who have gone before us and watching them minister to the same community we are joining them in.
However, if I’m being honest, the season of church hopping hasn’t been very easy. Our kids have little consistency to meet new friends or get to know their Sunday school teachers. For Mary and I, we are missing the intimate and steady relationships that come with being committed to a church family. Also, for as much as we experience the blessing of our neighboring churches, none of them are quite like the church that we are building and intend to lead. (I suppose it’s confirmation the Lord has us here for a reason, otherwise I would be working for them!) Every Sunday that rolls around where the doors of Restoration Church are not yet open, we press on, dream about, and anticipate that day. It gives us hope, a vision, and something exciting to look forward to, not just for ourselves, but for our community.
I love and am thankful for the like-minded, gospel-centered churches in and around Lake Zurich. I’m thankful for the faithful ministry they are committed to. I’m thankful for their openness and how many of them have welcomed us to the neighborhood. I’m thankful for what I can learn from them. And I’m thankful for the vision that God is putting on our heart and mind for Restoration Church that seeks to restore lives, our community and the world through the transformational power of the gospel.
By the Cross. For the Kingdom.