November 2nd, 2009

Top Ten Things Church Hoppers Say

While my mind is on CAVE dwellers from yesterday’s post, I thought I would pass on this top ten list I saw on Josh Reich’s blog, a young pastor in Tuscon. Below is his post on a book by Bob Franquiz entitled, Zero to Sixty. It has a chapter on
Church Hoppers. Here is how to spot a church hopper and what they
mean (my favorite is the last one):

1. “But my old church…” This usually means they want your church to be like their old
church.

2. “I just need time to be fed.” This means, “I don’t want to do anything. I’m here
just to sit and see what I can get out of this church, so don’t expect me to
serve in any way, shape, or form.

3. “I’m looking for a church that teaches the Word.” This means, “I’m looking for a
church that dispenses lots of information without challenging me to do
anything.”

4. “We came here because we are looking for deep teaching.” This usually means their
last church focused too much on actually obeying the Word. They want a church
that just talks about the Rapture, the Second Coming, who the Hittites were and
the identity of Theophilus.

5. “I should know my pastor.” This means, “In my last church, I got to know the
pastor, but when the church grew, and the pastor couldn’t have dinner with us
every Tuesday night, I left and came here.”

6. “We want a church that’s focused on discipling people.” This means, “I want a
church that’s focused on me, not people who are lost.”

7. “I wish you wouldn’t focus so much on what people need to do.” This means they
don’t like commitment, they don’t like to be told the Bible actually tells them
how to live and follow Jesus. They want to come to church, live in their sin
and have no one tell them this is wrong.

8. “I wish you wouldn’t talk about money.” This is the best way to tell a pastor “I
don’t give.”

9. “My old church/pastor was…” The way people come to your church is how they will
leave. If your first conversation with them is all about their last church and
pastor, that is how they will leave your church and how they will go to their
next church.

10. “Pastor, I’ve been talking to a lot of people and they all say…” Translation: “Me, my spouse and my mother think…” If they start this way, 99.9% of the time they have no one else who thinks this way, it is just the best way to complain. If someone has a complaint and uses this line with me, they need to list all of the names or my best assumption is they talked to the same person 10 times.

34 Comments on to “Top Ten Things Church Hoppers Say”

  • Carly1477 says:

    Wow…this list seems sooo cynical..Ever think that sometimes people leave churches because they feel like every word they say is judged to the nth degree, and taken the wrong way, based on members of ministry(including pastors) being ‘omniscient’ and all…I thought only God knows every thought and intent of man…Wow

  • Steve says:

    My friend told me to check out this blog and I’m sorry I did. Opinionated, arrogant, pointless and disgusting attitude are words that come to mind. Come on man, you’re better than this.

  • Matt says:

    Where’s “Everyone was so nice the first week, but after that, I was shut out and made to feel completely unwelcome everywhere I tried to get plugged in. Everyone looked at the floor when I walked in.” ?

  • Kyle says:

    I agree with Carly (and Steve, though perhaps not worded so strongly). This list is an unfortunate example of (attempted) humor at the expense of charity and integrity. Disappointing.

  • I guess #6 is just a matter of how you understand the Great Commission. I think you can focus on outreach while making disciples and I actually believe that’s the way Jesus wants it. Discipleship is so underrated in today’s flashy, seeker-obsessed churches. The best way to serve a seeker is to promote discipleship, so the people at the church actually live out and believe what they say.

  • Josh Reich says:

    Thanks for the link love Will. Love the blog and your book.
    It is interesting the reactions that this list gets. Usually, the people who are the most upset are ones who are not pastors. I have been a pastor for 8 years and have heard each and every one of these.

  • will mancini says:

    I appreciate the opposing views. My blog is targeting church leaders in general and pastors in particular. I think from the pastors point of view this list takes on different meaning and is meant to help pastors deal with a real problem today.

  • Shawn says:

    So good. Loved this article. I don’t think it was arrogant, I think it is truth. Lets remember, whether agreeing or disagreeing, to love. 1cor. 14:1.

  • Carly1477 says:

    When you put things on the World Wide Web(WWW) it is accessible to everyone.
    If there’s nothing wrong with this list then post it in your church bullentin every week so everyone that visits knows what to expect, and also so current members know what the “church leaders and pastors” ‘really’ think about them. Maybe that will stop people from making these comments, and then you won’t have to hear the same comments again for the next 8 years.
    I’m sure your members will appreciate the love.

  • Kevin Hendricks says:

    I’m a pastor and I’ve heard these many times over. Many of these statements are the result of a consumer attitude. God builds his church as he sees fit. What we need to do as believers is ask Him where He wants us to serve the body and then stick there until God says differently. We need to see the body of Christ not as a place to be served but as a place to serve.

  • Graham says:

    I am also surprised by all the negative comments and offense taken. I thought every one of those was spot on. I knew the 80s was making a comeback, but this is an unprecedented return to the ‘ME” generation.

  • Kirk says:

    Count me as another pastor who says this is absolutely right. I think a big problem that we face–one aspect of the consumer culture–is this idea that I come to church in order to be ministered to, not to be led in ministering to others. Sure, there’s a need to help each other along the way, but if church is the place I go to be catered to, and the pastor is in charge of catering to me, that’s a prescription for permanent immaturity on one side and pastoral burnout on the other.

  • Greg says:

    Heaven help us… I’ve led congregations for 25 years and i find this good, honest fun. LIGHTEN UP PEOPLE! no wonder people say they love God but just hate all those Christians…. All those who are offended, well, you’re showing yourself.
    GET REAL!

  • Lee says:

    I’m a pastor and I totally relate to this- It’s just a challenge to get planted and grow there. You have no idea how many people leave church because they don’t feel they have enough control or because they get offended at something small (like a blog)
    It’s tough seeing that day in and day out.
    Thanks for the post- I thought it was great!!!

  • Steven says:

    Maybe, just maybe, the problem isn’t the people, but the un-biblical version of “church” we’ve made. In almost every aspect we have made church about us and not about God. From the silly traditions (a wafer and grape juice?! not a celebratory meal) to the paid pastor/laity divide (pastor is only used 1 time in the New Testament, leaders/elders were always plural no single leader hierarchy, we as believers are all called to be “priests”) to the opulent, overwhelmingly wasteful temples we have now (there are several churches where I live who are in the process of several hundred thousand dollar “renovations”, never mind the economy, unemployment, etc… If we build it they will be happy/come). I could go on and on with just how far away from 1st century church (Gods intended design) we have come. We wonder why people are leaving and not coming back, why unbelievers only see the hypocritical side of us believers, and why even though we are “polished”, “edgy” and “relevant” we can’t get around the fact that “church” should never be business and that is mostly what it is. When you have to make the budget it is awfully hard to just give them Jesus (WHAT THEY/US NEED)! Not that God doesn’t use the current model, I just wonder when we are going to stop making it so hard on Him? I apologize for the choppy thoughts. Grace and Peace.

  • will mancini says:

    Thanks for the continued thoughts. There are certainly different ways of defining the problem and many different backgrounds/emotional experiences that we have as we dialogue around this post.
    Let me share why this post connected with me. I have been on staff with two churches that reached lost people in significant ways and grew past 3,000 in attendance in 10 years. When this occurs it is very hard to stay focused on a God given vision as a pastor and pastoral team. Why? In my experience reaching people far from God is so messy that people don’t like it. Rapid growth creates exponential unmet needs, and more than any one church can usually meet.
    My sole focus in my full-time ministry is helping pastors stay focused on their mission and their particular strengths in fulfilling it. If they cave in to people who have a consumer mindset, or a broken view of sanctification (information-centric, for example) much is lost. I feel this pain in the world; this is what God has given me to do. It is very specific.
    There are other ways of defining the problem. Yes there are arrogant pastors who don’t care for their flock, and yes there are broken models of church. Yes, these are important things to talk about, but not the problem that this post was addressing.
    Again, thanks for your dialogue!

  • Lyle says:

    Lame attempt at humor. Your comments about reasons # 2, 3, 4, and 6 are pretty absurd. Try again.

  • Chris says:

    Why does every one of these assume the “church hopper” is wrong? It couldn’t POSSIBLY be a real issue with the pastor and/or church. Where’s the humility? I think this list speaks more about the pastor than the “hopper”.

  • suzi says:

    i’m not a pastor, but am on staff at a church, and am, indeed, a reformed church hopper. i find no offense in the post, especially since in my hopping days i will admit to having said some of these. thanks for the post!

  • Kyle says:

    My “offense” is not with a consumer-oriented mindset – obviously that’s a problem. My offense is that each of the concerns listed by these so-called “church-hoppers” is immediately dismissed as a disingenuous disguise for selfish and misguided motives. I have myself strongly felt a number of the concerns listed, and thus feel that lumping those comments/concerns into the category of “excuses of consumer-minded church-hoppers” unfairly and often inaccurately represents the motives and hearts of people.
    For example, could someone not legitimately be concerned with the lack of word-centeredness in a church (i.e., #3)? I’ve seen many churches that purport to “teach the word,” but whose actual engagement with the Bible is little beyond cursory references or surface-level lip-service surrounded by cutesy stories and gimmicky illustrations. If someone were to come from such a church to another and say, “I’m looking for a church that teaches the word” – why in the world should we assume this individual is simply looking for a place where he won’t be challenged? I think this is not only ludicrous, but also remarkably uncharitable (and thus, non-pastoral – since pastors are the target audience for this list).
    And by the way, I’m a pastor. So the “You only appreciate this list if you’re a pastor” line doesn’t hold much water with me.

  • James says:

    This top-ten list might be best used as a diagnostic tool to measure the ineffectiveness of pastors, not laity. We as pastors must take responsibility for our role in the cultivation of “consumer Chrisianity?” Have we lived and preached the truth? Have we admonished, reproved, rebuked, when necessary? Or have we caved in to the fear of man? Also, are we laying heavy burdens on the laity that we ourselves are not willing to carry? Have we attempted to control people in reaction to church apathy and boredom? Or have we become cynical of the church, fostering a passive-aggressive us vs. them disposition? These are questions we may one day be required to answer before our Lord.
    Of course, the laity will experience their own day of reckoning. But, as someone already mentioned, Jesus had compassion for the weak but seemed to work overtime bringing harsh rebuke to church leadership.

  • me says:

    this is all your interpretation though.
    people are entitled to live how they want. it is their own and own choice at the end of the day.

  • Kirk says:

    “people are entitled to live how they want. it is their own and own choice at the end of the day.”
    That’s the heart of the consumer mentality that causing so many problems.

  • Fascinating list. To be honest, I have heard them as well. However, I think the difference is that I recognize I have tried to be “all things to all people” and failed.
    What I think is important is that a church (and a pastor) “know your niche” and serve and reach them with all of your heart.
    I don’t give a fig about the Hittites, personally ;) but I do care about growing to be more like Jesus. And just MAYBE the mistakes the Israelites made would relate to us today… Don’t want to go out on a limb, though.

  • tim says:

    So true sadly. Its honest and trust me peeps, I have seen them all as a pastor that’s why this post is so funny. You have missed the one that starts, “we the mature”… And ends “we have to be fed, or don’t focus on the needy so much”Personal growth is a personal responsibility!!
    Maybe you need to put a disclaimer on!!

  • To be offended at this list is a little strange. There is so much real world experience with these quotes. Rather than getting our defenses up we should search our hearts.
    Many times people have a buffet mentality when it comes to church, this is not a healthy thing

  • Mike says:

    Hey it’s ok to make fun of other people, we’re pastors! The rest of you who are offended obviously aren’t leaders like we are!
    That is some of the most ridiculous logic I have ever seen pride come up with.
    Esteem others higher than yourselves “pastors”. Whatever happened to the servant leader? Since when is it cool to joke about others as if you guys are better than they? What’s worse…their consumer mentality or your arrogance and lack of humility under the cover of “you wouldn’t understand unless you were a pastor like we are”?

  • kim says:

    Dear Mr. Mancini,

    I read #9 and realized how true that it is: 9. “My old church/pastor was…” The way people come to your church is how they will
    leave. If your first conversation with them is all about their last church and
    pastor, that is how they will leave your church and how they will go to their
    next church”

    We left our old church because he was all about vision, “the sweet spot”, “umbrella of authority” , “clarity” and all that stuff. When I listen to you, it sounds so much like our old pastor! We wanted to hear the Word expounded and exegeted. And you are right: we are going to leave when we don’t hear the Word expounded and exegeted at this church, we’ll leave. Thank you for clarifying for me where our old pastor got all this stuff. I kept wondering why he would not stay tied to the Word; why he didn’t understand that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation; why he flinched when I asked why he didn’t just preach Christ and Him crucified. The more I read the Bible, the more I got confused when I would hear our old pastor preach. Now I go to a church where what I hear in the pulpit I can find in the Bible. I’m not going crazy and having to be “cleansed” by listening to sermons on Sermon Audio all week. I come home and I am not driving my husband crazy. We are fed. Jesus said to “Feed My Sheep, feed my sheep, feed my sheep” and I am fed. He is fed. Our kids aren’t confused.

    I thought he reading something and now I know what!

    gratefully,

    Kim

  • kim says:

    How strange! Here I was fixated on Number 9, when I read Number 5 and was blown away:

    5. “I should know my pastor.” This means, “In my last church, I got to know the
    pastor, but when the church grew, and the pastor couldn’t have dinner with us
    every Tuesday night, I left and came here.”

    At our church, our pastor makes dinner for us every Tuesday night right before Bible Study! And we actually study books in the Bible. Fed physically and spiritually.

  • Cynical? Maybe, but in 36 years of pastoral ministry, it rings true. I have often found that people who say these things when they leave or join a congregation I have been serving are more often than not off to another congregation in a couple of years with similar complaints.

    A pastor friend who I respect deeply (who has served a large, multi-ethnic, urban congregation for a number of years) calls any in the new member class who want to transfer from another close by congregation to hear why they want to change churches. If he picks up code such as in this blog, he tells them to go back to the congregation they’re coming from and work it out with their leaders. If the leaders want to endorse them as new members for the new church, they’ll accept them. If he gets a lot of gripes about the previous church he tells them not to join here “we have enough malcontents of our own; we don’t need any more.” I applaude his guts. Maybe you can be tough like that when you have 3000+ in worship every Sunday.

    Yes, our consumer model of church may be fueling church hopping and griping. Jesus never advertised or tried to lure people in. Rather he confronted them with the cost of discipleship.

  • 30 years since ordination and yup this list is spot on. It is not funny it is tragic. Tragically true. Does it generalize? Yes to some degree, but that takes nothing away from the dishonest self serving agenda of just way too many people sitting in congregations around the world.

  • Scott says:

    I suspect all the naysayers are probably “Church Hoppers” themselves. I have personally heard each of these several times over the last 25 years. And yes…they come from “Church Hoppers” Not Kingdom minded people.

  • Timothy Jones says:

    Will;
    There is so much validity to this post. There are people who leave churches for legitimate reasons but this article specifically speaks about “church-hoppers.” As a pastor for 24 years, I have heard ALL of these things. If the very few who said these things were right, why have thousands come and remained?

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