Last Saturday, I got to attend the Equip and Empower conference where Pastor Steve Murrell was speaking. (Great conference and excellent group of people!) Pastor Gilbert Foliente and I were the drivers. In the afternoon, there was a moment for the participants to ask questions from the panel.
One of the questions was,
“Can I go to two churches?”
Obviously, if the question is CAN I – if it’s physically possible, then the answer is yes. (Just not at the same time because physics.)
But if the question is IS IT WISE, HEALTHY, RIGHT, etc to go two (or more) churches as a lifestyle, then the answer is NO.
It depends on what we think a church is.
- If the church is like a RESTAURANT, where I’m just going to get fed, then you can go to any church you feel like going to at the moment. My wife and I love to try new restaurants in new places. Last Monday, we wanted Chinese.
- If the church is like a UTILITY, where I go to pay my bills, withdraw money, or perform other essential functions, then you can go to whatever is most convenient. I love how I can pay my bills in multiple outlets (including online).
- If the church is like a GROCERY, where I shop around for what I want, then feel free to pick what you want from certain churches and ditch them when there’s something you don’t like. Many people already know which groceries are well-stocked with the things they prefer.
But the church is none of those things. The main problem with the question and that line of thinking is that the church is centered entirely on the individual. It’s self-centered.
That is the exact opposite of what the church is. Other belief systems can be done independently, but Christianity has community and relationships built into every single part of it. The local church is the primary way we can experience and express that. Not the church service, but the church – the relationships.
Just last Monday, our family had dinner with the Punzalans and Sys. Now, we’re all in ministry but this dinner wasn’t about that. We were just celebrating (with unhealthy food) the birth of Dennis and Thammie’s youngest son, Liam. I don’t think any church strategies or theological revelations were discused. Because the church is about relationships.
- It’s a BODY – where each part builds up one another.
- It’s a FAMILY – where love, acceptance, discipline, purpose, and many more are found.
- It’s an ARMY – with a mission to restore the brokenness in the world, in relationships, and in our hearts.
And none of that is accomplished in short-term, shop-around moments. It comes from letting down roots and building deep connections with other people. That’s why you want to connect to one local church.