GOD HATES CHURCHHOPPING!
Pastor George C. Bruns
Churchhoppers are as much of a plague upon fundamental churches today as grasshoppers were upon Israel 3000 years ago. They fly in with a great noise and show, and ravenously eat up a pastor's time and a church's resources, even destroying some of the flock. (Acts 20:29-30; 2 Thessalonians 3:11) And then they fly off again to seek out greener pastures elsewhere. Every once in awhile these churchhoppers stay long enough to join a church promising to faithfully attend and serve the body of Christ. They sign the church covenant with little thought to the importance of it and when the smallest of circumstances arise that makes attending that church difficult or uncomfortable off they fly again. Well God hates it!
God does not look kindly on those who knowingly or unknowingly hurt the body of Christ. (Proverbs 6:16) Nor does He take kindly to those who break their word. (Romans 1:28-31; Ephesians. 4:25)
True, there is no example in the Bible of a New Testament church having a written document called a "Church Membership Covenant." But, does that mean that such a document is unscriptural? No! Jesus clearly taught that righteous agreements could be made by His disciples concerning the fellowshipping of saints together, and that these agreements would be honored by His Father in heaven.
"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:15-20)
That today we put such agreements in writing and call them "Church Covenants" in no way negates their importance or validity. For all intents and purposes we can be reasonably assured by our Savior's own words that our church covenant is on record in heaven. If such is the case then we must righteously keep it. In fact, we dare not do otherwise - even if it causes us hurt or loss. (Numbers 30:2; Deuteronomy 23:21; Psalms 15:4; Romans 1:28-31; Galatians 3:15) Or, even if made in ignorance. (Leviticus 4:27-31) And, even if made while being deceived. (Joshua 9:1-27 cf. 2 Samuel 21:1-14)
A covenant is a promise, vow, or oath that can be either a verbal or written agreement between two or more parties. Sometimes God is an acknowledged witness to the agreement, as in a Christian marriage or a Church Covenant, sometimes God is not acknowledged but He is still a witness. Under the Law a man could break his marriage covenant with his wife for the cause of adultery. (Malachi 2:14; Matthew 5:32; 19:9) Under grace only death breaks that covenant. (Matthew 19:4-8; 1 Corinthians 7:39) In fact there is not a single instance in the Bible where a covenant was not at least a lifetime commitment except for divorce. And that was only permitted because of the hardness of the heart! (Matthew 19:8) The N. T. gives the following as acceptable reasons for ending a church covenant:
1. Changing locals - when a believer moves from one location to another and distance precludes that believer from continuing in his former church he should seek a release from his former church and get a letter of commendation to give to his new church. (Acts 18:27; Romans 16:1-2)
2. Wrong doctrine - when a believer discovers that his church is teaching a heretical doctrine he should meet with the church's leadership individually (Matthew 18:15-17; Titus 3:10) or jointly about it (Acts 15) correcting them with love and patience. If the church should continue in her error that believer is free from his obligation to that church based upon the biblical Doctrine of Separation. (Acts 5:29; 20:30; Romans 16:17; 1 Timothy 6:1-5)
3. Wrong practice - when a believer discovers a grave error in practice within his fellowship and has followed the Matthew 18 principle of correction with love and patience, or rebuked the sinner publicly (Galatians 2:11-14; 6:1; 1 Timothy 5:20) and the wrong practice is permitted to continue that believer is free from his obligation to that church also based upon the clear teaching of Scripture concerning the Doctrine of Separation. (Acts 5:29; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Thessalonians. 3:6, 11, 14)
I cannot think of any other biblical reasons. All reasons that are not biblical are, therefore, carnal and not of God.
Please, if you are thinking about leaving a church or joining a church think about it prayerfully and carefully. Remember, the Holy Spirit will never lead you to do anything which would violate His Word as found written in His Holy Bible. God has never told anyone to consider inner feelings when making a choice. We are to look at His Word. (2 Tim. 3:15-17)
Keeping God's commandments does not mean much to the unsaved, but they should mean something to those who are saved. Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John. 14:15)
Are you saved? Do you consider yourself to be a friend of the covenant keeping God of the Bible? If you are not, you need to be.
Remember, that in order to be God's friend and join a fundamental church - you must be born-again. To learn how to be born again read this simple plan and follow it:
1. Admit to God that you are a sinner. The Bible says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
2. Recognize that you are under the penalty of death because of your sin. The Apostle Paul also wrote, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
3. Know that this death is eternal separation from God in Hell. The Apostle John wrote, "This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:14b-15)
4. Realize that you cannot save yourself. The Apostle Paul writing to the young pastor Titus said, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." (Titus 3:5-6)
5. Repent of your sins; have a genuine change of heart toward sin and your God. The Bible says, "For Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." (2 Corinthians 7:10)
6. Place your trust in Jesus' death on the cross for your eternal salvation. Again, the Apostle Paul tells us, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:9-10)