Is It Wrong for Christians to Attend Multiple Churches?

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Why do leaders prohibit their members from joining other churches?

Dwindling church attendance has another wrinkle. A growing number of people who do attend are spreading their attendance among multiple churches.

Mom and dad may like the ambience and friends at First Church, but their teenage kids like the youth ministry at Second Church.

So the family attends both churches at different times. Their neighbors have a slew of other reasons for playing “musical chairs” among various churches.

Is this a bad thing?

Apparently, if you check with church leaders. Steve Hewitt at American Church magazine surveyed pastors on their churches’ rules concerning membership. He found that 71 percent of churches prohibit their people from joining other churches.

Why do you suppose that is?

Is it a fear of mixing a dangerous theological cocktail?

Is it contributing to the dreaded consumer mentality?

Is it a concern about diluting the home church’s volunteer pool?

Is it a sign of paranoia over church comparisons?

Or is it simply a resistance to dividing the tithe?

What subtle message does this jealous rule send?

That one’s faith should be exercised in only one location? Might it be healthier to be thankful, especially in these days of declining church involvement, that people choose to plug in somewhere—or multiple somewheres?

Like denominationalism, exclusive church membership will continue to slide. Whether we like it or not. People today are culturally less likely to join or reserve their loyalty to any organization.

Perhaps this is the time for the church to shed one of its man-made rules. And show the world what it means to belong to the Body of Christ.  

Thom Schultz Thom Schultz is an eclectic author and the founder of Group Publishing and Lifetree Café. Holy Soup offers innovative approaches to ministry, and challenges the status quo of today’s church.

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  • Member

    I have see quite a bit ifcthis church hoping or noncommittal practice in my community. However, I fail to see the purpose of this article. I’d like to see some meat behind the answer. In addition, it just assumes the reason why anyone would require commitment to only one church is jealousy. It seems more of a personal rant that an attempt to help.

  • Ralph M. Rickenbach

    When I was born again, I was born into a family – the family of God. That includes fathers and mothers that will invest their lives into me, brothers and sisters that are on the same path with me, as well as sons, daughters, grandsons … that I invest myself into.

    Christian faith therefore is not a religion, it is a set of relationships. Deep relationships with accountibility, responsibility, love, and care. How can this be if I share my interactions with many meeting places – here a little, there a little?

    I agree that the rule is bad. We should have a relational culture, a level of involvement, the warmth of a family so it is natural to join and belong – fullheartedly and fulltime.

  • Costa K

    As a pastor I don’t mind people attending two churches. However I find that their involvement is half and half. Neither church gets the best they can offer.

    As someone once said “You can’t ride two horses”.

    I wouldn’t make a hard and fast rule about it but I encourage people to think hard about their choices.

  • Committed To MY CHURCH

    Not sure I agree with this article. We commit to marriage, we are committed to our children, we committed to our place of employment (sure we won’t go work for another during our regular work hours) we are committed to our best friend (that’s why they are your best friend) we are committed to our workout regime, we are committed to our favorite sports team, some church goers are committed to cigarettes, some to alcohol, some are committed to furthering their education at any cost, we are committed to our race (whether we speak it or not -George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin). Some are committed to their favorite tv series, wouldn’t dare miss “Scandal” or the Soaps that we record to view after work, we are overly committed to our cell phones (can’t go a day without it), we are more committed to holidays than we are Holy-days, and as for me, I am committed to Apple Products like this IPad I am using. I wouldn’t dare use another, WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE COMMITTED TO GOD, BUT WE PUT ALL THESE THINGS BEFORE SOMETIMES. Before you blast me, I am not saying by any means that where we worship shows our commitment to God. But I am saying commitment to a house of worship is vitally important to the growth, maturity and well being of an individual especially if God (whom we are supposed to be committed to) has ordained, shown or placed you in that particular worship facility.

    This is the problem I see in America. WE WANT TO DO WHATEVER WE WANT TO DO EVEN IF IT IS NOT GOD’S WILL. And we wonder why there’s is some much crime. It’s because we are not committed to to what adds value in our lives. We only commit to what makes us feel good at the moment.

    We must change this in order to raise a God loving, God serving and God led generation.

  • Michael L.

    I agree with Costa on this. I believe this concept has the possibility to render the local church as impotent. Just to name a few important aspects of local church doctrine that will suffer is the efficacy of the ‘body’, (i.e. each person using their spiritual gifts and filling a role); individual care, as well as, individual affirmation and encouragement; and church planting. And if I know human nature, and I do, our flesh has the tendency toward avoiding the discipline of accountability if we are not very, very careful. Certainly there are ample opportunities to “partner” with other churches on occasion, but one’s full attention and effort should be within his local body.

  • Ricky Kalu

    Although this might seem to make sense for the individual families, I feel it might undermine the working progress of respective local churches when its people fail to commit to it in attendance, work force and financially. These 3 are vital for the gospel to extend and for the work of any local church to be viable. People switching and splitting committment, human and capital resources is counter-productive for the people and the church. The progress of the individual will be hampered by a lack of consistent discipleship which is still really lacking in most churches today. As much as researched trends might be pointing to this trend becoming the norm, Do you think it defines a more mature body of Christ? I think not. The modern church needs to become more effective at nurturing its current attendees while attracting new ones at the same time. I think it might be a call for churches to rethink their strategies to avoid the bleed but not necessarily a call for the Body of Christ to accept a cultural norm that would eventually render the local church’s work ineffective.

  • LT

    If making disciples is the goal, then a consumer approach to church attendance makes that difficult at best. Maybe the problems that cause this approach include the afore mentioned consumerism, the leadership crisis in churches and a lack of thinking outside the box. With people and families shopping around permanently (week after week), I see only corporate weakness ahead and more overworked contributing servants catering to consumers. I’ll continue to encourage commitment to a local church. If mine doesn’t do it, please find a place where you can worship God and use your God-given spiritual gifts for the good of the Body of Christ. Choosing a church should be about what we like and more importantly how we can fulfill the great commandment and the great commission. I agree with the statements about Christianity being about deep relationships. I’m reminded that Jesus and Paul developed intimate relationships in order to impact peoples lives. Maybe the consumer approach is an avoidance of intimacy issue,

  • Kevin

    I believe adopting this mindset toward church attendance and involvement is both foreign to the teaching of the New Testament and detrimental to the overall health of individual congregations (to use your hypotheticals, “First Church” and “Second Church”). While we might be grateful that people have a desire to attend church (even though it may be multiple churches) rather than just sit at home, this is to ignore a very important and very straightforward fact of the New Testament teaching on the local church. And here it is: “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose” (1 Corinthians 12:18). And that is in the context of a chapter in which we learn that God has gifted each of those members “for the common good” (vs. 7) and for the building up of that local body of believers. Paul envisioned each local congregation as a unique composition of God, and perfectly gifted and suited for his mission for them. It isn’t a sin to visit another church from time to time, but to divide your time equally among different congregations is to give yourself and your gifts fully to none of them (contrary to God’s sovereign design according to his word).

  • Vincent Aja

    Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.(Hebrews 13:17).
    Commitment to one local Church is normal if the pastor and the leaders understand the purpose of the Great Commission which is to make everybody to be relevant through discipleship (Mathew 28:19-20).( It says here TEACH all the nations, and again TEACHING TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS…) Every born again Christian must identify him or herself with one local Church where the person was baptized and will be giving his or her tithes and offerings to support the Kingdom`s business. But the person has the right to fellowship with any other denomination when the person travels far from his or her local Church. I do not believe that in any local Church where a pastor has taken his time to create some Cells where everybody will be occupied with something, will still have the member of his Church seeing themselves as visitors in his Church… Pastors were responsible to make their members to remain in their local Churches as visitors by not assigning the people places or to help each and every one to understand that everybody has a place in the ministry. When they failed by teaching others ( like the leaders who will later assume the responsibility to train and equip the new converts). They will begin to complain by enforcing their members not to attend any other local Church of their choice, they will only end up losing those members. So the pastor`s responsibility is to feed the spiritual emptiness of the congregation through the Cell groups in small numbers where everybody will be useful to the ministry. With this means everybody will be busy and can have the time to visit any other local for special occasion.

  • Caelin

    Drink from the trough God has directed you to, that’s where you should plant roots and prosper. Teach your children this principle and stop being cavalier about biblical standards.

  • Grady Walton

    I sense fear (or turf wars) in some of these comments and I suspect they come from pastors. Don’t worry, pastors, there is enough harvest for everyone. By the way, is it wrong for pastors to preach/speak at different churches, conferences, retreats, or missions organizations outside their denomination or independent home church? You see, this is a sword that cuts both ways.

  • Ryan

    The last church I had gone to, there was an old couple who went across town to the Baptist church every other week. My church was the Christian Reformed. We had some teens that attended Sunday but went to the Methodist church youth group even though we had one. The parents didn’t like the youth leader so they sent their kids elsewhere. The youth we had were from unchurched families in town. This duel churching is common. A friend of mine in my late teens went to a Methodist church, I went to the Baptist church but we went to the Nazereen church youth group. I’ve done this myself.

  • Jake

    The problem here is that when one is attending two or more churches they are usually not committed to either one, it’s an entertainment mentality. Christ said “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” and I have found this to be true, what can happen is over time those attending two churches begin to find fault and criticize one church because it doesn’t do things like the other one does and if the two churches are doctrinally different they can start trying to bring one doctrine into the other church or they can become really positive about one church and negative about the other. I have personally seen all of these scenarios take place.

  • Nate Schlomann

    Is this serious or a joke? People this to this guy?

    • Nate Schlomann

      People *listen* to this guy?

  • food for thought

    ONE BODY ONE LORD ONE SPIRIT EPH4 church model the books of Corinthians every joint supplies a need. watch out when men try to make merchandise of you.Remeber Gods response to this 30″An appalling and horrible thing Has happened in the land: 31The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it? BY all means FOLLOW THE HOLY SPIRIT ! nothing wrong with being a church member as long as we remember eph 4 and we are not to be disciples of this man or that as stated in Corinthians just Jesus Christ or as an old pastor I had used to say I do not mind my people going to other churches they may need something there that’s a good outlook wether a message for a season of life or to help other members of the body.