“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matt. 5:37 ESV)
“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!” (Rev. 3:15 ESV)
Our Lord spoke quite a bit about the power of choices and keeping things simple. Unfortunately, we have a way of complicating the obvious and trivializing the momentous. One of the greatest ways we do this is by our presence, or lack thereof, in the church of our choice.
Yes, I said it. While I would like to believe that the marketplace, or politics, do not rule which church we attend, they do. We are truly American Post-Modern Individualist consumers and whatever we desire, we can find a church that provides it or teaches it.
The problem is that we treat churches like a brand of soft drink bought at the local convenience store, when it should be treated more like a house. The soft drink is designed to be consumed in one sitting and meeting a single “need”. The home is an investment in something solid. This requires constant investment and maintenance, but done properly it will last for generations. I could not imagine changing a home as quickly as I do soft drinks. Choose a home and stay as long as it meets your need for shelter. Feel free to choose based on the style and structure, and whether your family and all your stuff will fit in it. However, once the choice is made, make a vow for a little stability, as far as it depends on you. Above all, resist the temptation to keep an alternative house always at the ready, for then you will never really be at home.
This came to me as I was considering how to respond to a request to sojourn at St. M’s from a very nice couple, associated with another (not Episcopal) congregation in the area, who are at odds with the lead pastor. What they desired was not a respite period, but for welcome only on the days when this particular pastor was the lead in the service. In no way is this healthy, for either party.
So, my advice would be to make a choice to offer up their dislike in prayer through the power of the cross and continue to attend their current church, or make a clean break. Taking a week or two off each month to attend another service to avoid that pastor is not healthy for them or the congregation. The Church is a place where real relationships exist, including bad ones that we need to work through, and where the Body is made poorer by our absence. Be in or out. Don’t limp between two opinions. Let your “yes” be “yes”. Don’t be lukewarm.
That being said, there are times to make changes. Not, all relationships can be healthy. Sometimes we want different worship styles, or more and different programs. Sometimes a Methodist realizes he is actually an Anglican! However, if you find yourself to be in this situation, or cannot reconcile your relationships, you owe it to your current church and your potential new one to make a clean break. Anything else is unfair to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Then, if you are departing because of a broken relationship, go to confession for your own part in that break-up.
Any church is like a house, it is what you put into it that makes it a home.
NB—for clarity, I am speaking about church, or pastor, hopping in general, and not about part-time status in retirement or “snow birding”.