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
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
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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
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.