[From MMI Weblog by Todd Rhoades]
Pastor Brian Jones recently wrote on his blog: "I call church hoppers “connoisseurs of fine churches” because they’re continually on a quest to find the church that is spiritual enough for them, will endlessly engorge themselves on the “services” of the churches they attend, and always have a critical word to say afterwards whenever “church” doesn’t meet their standards. Here are seven things we try to do to keep church hoppers from wearing out their welcome..."
#1 Ask church hoppers to commit to tithing and serving in your 101-201-301 classes That usually takes care of it right there. Because church hoppers are consumers by nature, anything that strikes them as sacrificial will surely turn them off. As a ministry friend of mine used to tell me, “At the first sign of trouble, raise the bar.”
#2 Tell your people to stop inviting their Christian friends to church This past Sunday I may have been one of the few pastors out there that stood up and said, “Please DO NOT invite your Christians friends to our Easter services. We want other churches in the area to know we have their back. Also, we want to grow this church through conversion growth, not transfer growth. Let’s pack this place out with people who are keeping God up at night because they are living far from him.” I strategically do that 3-4 times a year.
#3 Preach short sermons Howard Hendricks used to say, “Keep them longing, not loathing.” I buy into that philosophy. I try to speak anywhere between 21 and 26 minutes max. That drives church hoppers nuts because they want to “be fed.” I’m not interested in “feeding people” unless they are in the early stages of their spiritual journey. Church hoppers as well as Christians further along their spiritual journey need to be feeding themselves. Anything I provide on Sunday morning should be in addition to their own self-directed spiritual nourishment. One point, one scripture, 21-26 minutes, that’s enough.
#4 Don’t sing 9,345 worship songs - Church hoppers, 9 times out of 10, came from a church background where they were taught they needed 5-6 worship songs to really connect with God. That needs to be re-taught. Where did we get the idea that worship = singing anyway? That’s part of it, but only a small part of it. Every part of the service is worship. Every part of my life is worship. Limiting your worship songs except for occasions when you are led by God to expand the repertoire forces people to recognize this or leave.
(Brian lists three more, but you’ll have to read those over at his blog...)
QUESTION: How do YOU keep church hoppers from staying? Or, do you try to keep everyone, no matter what?