Doing the Church Tour
Think church-hopping is just a summer thing? Do your hopping off-season and blend in with the natives.
This is a 2014 article by Peter Chin on the blog Third Culture, a webpage launched that year by Christianity Today. He called it,
Sometimes, I’m a little embarrassed to be identified as an American Christian because it feels like we fall into one of two camps: either we hate everything that we are not familiar with, or hate everything that we used to like.
A good example of the former is a controversy that recently sprang up at Gordon College, where undergraduates were scandalized at the introduction of a strange and foreign type of worship experience during their chapel services: gospel music. Yes, GOSPEL MUSIC, one of the oldest and richest liturgical traditions in American faith.
Examples of the latter are too numerous to count. The Christian blogosphere and publishing industry are filled with memoirs of people ranting about how terrible their church experience was growing up, and how their current place and style of worship is what Jesus had in mind all along. When cast in this adversarial light, what should have been personal stories of finding one’s home in faith instead read like a harrowing escape from a doomsday cult, and serve as yet another salvo in our nation’s already raging cultural wars.
These two tendencies have unfortunately come to define Christians in this country, that we either despise everything with which we are unfamiliar, or the exact opposite…
There are some great Tweetable moments in the article:
- It is this exposure that allows me, and others who share my background, to avoid that terrible tendency to either despise other Christian traditions, or despise one’s own.
- [D]o any of us willingly and easily engage with things with which we have no exposure?
- I don’t believe in a denominational promised land, just an eternal one.
To read the full article, click the title above or click here.
I started to write this as a comment, but it got lost in the ether. So I’ll share it here.
In my local community, I tell people they need to “do the tour.” I recommend taking four weeks. If you’re Evangelical do the high church tour. If you’re Mainline Protestant check out the Pentecostals and the Wesleyans. These days, with multiple services, you can do this and still not miss anything back home.
I also tell them that the point isn’t to consider making a switch, but to return with a richer understand of your own denomination’s place in the broader spectrum.
Five Reasons to Church Hop This Week
I didn’t write this one either. Maybe I wish I had. Credit goes to Kirra at the blog Thoughtful. (Click the title below to link.) While some people consider church-hopping to be some type of rampant plague or scourge, the point is that most people are very faithful to their faith family week-in, week-out. This was written to encourage them just to one-time consider a one-off visit somewhere else. Is that such a bad thing?
If you’ve been attending the same church for more than a year or two, it might be time to visit another church next Sunday. This isn’t a permanent change but just one Sunday to do something different.
When we go to the same church for years, we get comfortable. We know the people, we know the songs, and we know the church. This isn’t a bad thing, but it is good for us to leave what makes us comfortable once in a while. There are many good reasons to visit a different church once in a while. Here are five.
1. Remember what it was like to be a guest. If you’ve been attending the same church for a long time, you may not remember well what it is like to attend a church for the first time. You don’t know anyone. You don’t know if the place you chose to sit if that space is someone’s “spot.” Will they serve communion? How will they serve communion? Will you know any of the songs they sing? When you visit a new church and then come back to your home church, hopefully you will find yourself more sensitive to those who are attending your church for the first time.
2. Appreciate a different style of worship. If your church sings hymns, try one that has a praise band. This is not just about music; if your home church is casual, try out a church that is a little more formal or liturgical. Put on a tie or a dress. Church can be done in many different ways; you don’t have to love the new style, but learn to appreciate the different ways the church worships.
3. Get a different perspective. If you’ve been listening to the same one or two preachers for a while, listen to someone else’s teaching. You might not agree with everything they say, but sometimes the best way to sharpen your beliefs is to consider the ideas that you disagree with. On the other hand, you might learn something that you find rings true that you’ve not heard taught before. Just be sure to weigh carefully what you hear, whether at new churches or your home church.
4. See what other churches are doing. Observe their methods, programs, and activities. How do they do Sunday School? Do they order the service in a way that seems more conducive to worship? If you see something you especially like that you think could work at your church, approach the leadership and humbly offer your suggestion.
5. Recognize the body of Christ is all over the world and all over your city. The people at the church you choose to visit may be strangers, but we are all going to be sharing heaven together. Christ only has one body.