First, let’s be clear that as far as God is concerned, when He sees Singapore – He only sees one Church.

And so, when we say “church-hop”, what we mean is to resettle (not drift) from one community in the Church to another.

The Church exists as hundreds (even thousands) of local communities. Most of these are what we call the local church.

For most Christians, the local church is their primary form of Christian community.

Many relationships that are forged here last for life. Here is where love takes tangible form. Christians are held accountable to one another and to their overseers in the local church.

Help and healing are offered to those who are broken. When someone has been hurt, the first responders and community support are often from the local church.

The local church is also the place where we are discipled to grow deep in our walk with God, and sent forth to build the Body of Christ, transforming the world for Jesus.

What if all this just isn’t happening for you?

That’s the real question, isn’t it?

We need not discuss the matter of changing local churches when the reasons are clear-cut. Just for example:

  • Two persons want to get married but they grew up in different local churches
  • The church is promulgating false teaching and wants to keep on doing it

We also shan’t address reasons that are, shall we say, more frivolous:

  • They don’t sing the songs I like
  • The worship service timings are disruptive for my Sunday leisure

That aside, what if you really feel that church isn’t the way it ought to be? And should you be feeling bad that you are feeling like this?

Well, that “feeling bad” may not be a bad sign.

See, the first thing I want to point out is that when we assess our local church, we never do so from afar.

We are talking about our spiritual family, and it’s not pleasant to feel discontented with the ones dear to you.

However, and this is an important point, it is okay to feel a holy discontent.

In fact, I think it should be normal to feel a holy discontent with the way things are with the church.

We are always seeking her growth, her correction and reformation, so that she may be presented perfected in Christ (Colossians 1:28).

What makes the discontent holy is when we are motivated by a passionate zeal for the Bride of Christ – instead of a sense of envy, pride or even hurt.

We want to see each local church do better in caring for and discipling its people, and in bearing faithful witness to her Lord.

Holy discontent or wholly discontent?

Holy discontent can go one of two ways:

  1. You are convicted to play a role in helping to build up your local church
  2. You become more convinced that it is time to go

Whatever the outcome, holy love must be behind the desire to see change.

Additionally, what should be common to both outcomes is that you speak of your local church (or the Church in general, for that matter) with both truth and love.

Remember that this is Jesus’ Bride we are talking about.

Furthermore, regardless of the outcome, I hope you will engage your church leaders about what you sense is not going well.

I have friends who have done that, and their leaders took the trouble to respond by sitting down and having a conversation with them about it.

Whether the leaders took up the feedback and worked on it or not is another matter, but at least there was such a conversation. That’s accountability.

In the course of such conversations, you may even be surprised to discover that your leaders also feel burdened by the same issues.

At the same time, I also know of situations where members left the church without having tried to talk to their leaders or even serving advance notice.

They just quietly dropped away. That is sad, and reflects a lack of relationship to begin with.

We cannot determine how our leaders will respond… But we are responsible for how we conduct ourselves throughout the whole process, as unto the Lord.

Conversations about leaving are important to have and can even be a blessing.

From such conversations, wouldn’t it be wonderful if church leaders exercised the wisdom to discern when God is speaking through their members who voice concerns?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they extended grace by inviting these members to help fix the problems?

Or even by letting members move to another local church, trusting that they will thrive and grow there, and sending them off with their blessing.

We cannot determine how our leaders will respond to us when we broach challenging issues like church reform.

But we are responsible for how we conduct ourselves throughout the whole process, as unto the Lord.

Now, if you are still looking to change churches, the following questions may be helpful to start with:

  • What parts of Scripture are guiding you in your decision-making?
  • How much and how passionately have you been bringing your church before the Lord in prayer? Have you prayed for her revival?
  • Have you asked the Lord to search your heart and refine it so that your thoughts and motivations are holy?
  • What have you sensed is God’s heart for your local church?
  • What do you sense is God’s role for you to serve the Body of Christ?
  • Are you fully surrendered to God’s leading – whether to leave or to stay?
  • Have you asked God for wisdom and grace when you bring your burden up to your local church leaders?

Leaving for a season

First, it may help some of you to think of changing church as something that is for a season.

For instance, you feel compelled to leave because you recognise the need to grow and to be nurtured, but you are simply not receiving it in your local church and you do not have access to mentors or teachers elsewhere.

Staying on may be bad for your wellbeing, so you tell yourself that one day, when the season has changed with a turnaround in that church, you will return.

I have a friend who did just that, and I respect her for it.

Second, some of you may feel the need to leave because you have been hurt badly in your local church.

It could have happened because of another member or a leader. If this is a grievous matter, staying on may be bad for your wellbeing and ability to heal and recover.

I believe this can be a reason for moving to another local church community, at least for a season, because you need the time and space to heal.

I pray that you will indeed be restored, and that you will not be alone in that journey.

And finally, I leave a prayer for everyone reading this.

I pray that whatever part of the Church you find yourself in, may you always seek to deeply root yourself in community and to see the Body of Christ grow and thrive.

For other stories in this series on changing churches, read these articles below! 

  1. Are you rooted and growing in a spiritual community?
  2. What’s preventing you from doing so? Are these reasons internal or external?
  3. Who are some people you can speak to regarding your concerns? Have you made the step to do so?
  4. Lean in and listen to God. What is He saying to you regarding this matter?