This is a piece I wrote a while ago, but I’ve had a few conversations with people recently about this important issue and so I’ve decided to pop it up on the blog. Please feel free to comment!
We live now in a highly consumer focused culture, and this culture is seeping into church life, and it seems that “church shopping” is becoming a common trap for some Christians.
As we might expect the Bible doesn’t address the subject of being part of two (or more) different churches directly. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians opens, “to God’s church in Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2), signifying one church, while in Galatians Paul begins with “to the churches of Galatia” (Galatians 1:2), showing there was more than one in the region. Today, however, with numerous local churches, the question of whether it’s OK to attend more than one church on a regular basis does come up.
Firstly, it will help us if we are sure that we fully understand the purpose of church attendance and/or membership. When Christians join together with a local group of believers, we are following the model for the local church (check it out inActs 2:41-42): “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.” Also we can see from Ephesians 4, that believers are meant to come together as a tightly knit family to minister to one another, care for one another and show commitment to one another using the gifts of the Holy Spirit to build up one another in the faith.
The question really is this: can we honestly realistically and effectively pray, have open fellowship, sit under teaching and authority of the word and the eldership, and use our spiritual gifts if we’re not properly committed to a single fellowship?
Sadly, it is often the case that people will decide they want to worship somewhere else, at times, because that way they can just slip in and out without any commitment or any need to give of themselves to others; another reason may be that a person might be looking to pick or choose something different from each church because they feel they can’t find one church that gives them everything they “want”. The problem with these reasons is that each one of them is counter to Christ’s teaching in scripture about what it is to give to one another; they all have the mentality of “what can I get”, rather than “what can I give”.
While there may be legitimate reasons for someone to attend two or more churches, this will generally only be when the local fellowship doesn’t have an evening or mid-week service, or when there is a special service which requires an individual’s attendance such as a dedication or baptism etc.