All churches have problems. There is no such thing as a perfect church. A lot of us can get a “grass is greener” syndrome, thinking that some church in another location is just awesome and our congregation just stinks. We can get all worked up about all things we don’t like, and we look for ways to justify leaving. But then we go to the “awesome” church, and after the honeymoon period, the “awesome” church…isn’t. We then move on to another, and another, and another, until we run out of options. Some even try to return to a previous congregation and make another go at it. This is called “church hopping.” Church hopping is pretty prevalent, especially in areas where there are many congregations from which to choose.
What you will find is that the problem wasn’t really with all those congregations, it was with the individual. Those expectations are too high or not even Biblical. There is far too little introspection to see what’s going on inside me; maybe I’m the one who needs to change, not the church. The church hopper is lacking also in humility and mercy. Sometimes folks are looking for a church to serve them, instead of trying to see how they can be a servant alongside the brethren. Another part of this is that some want to serve how they want to serve, but do not look to see what the needs of the congregation are. Maybe the way I want to serve is not what is needed at the time; I might need to serve in a way that is different and uncomfortable for me.
How often in Scripture do you see Jesus or any inspired writer telling the Christians to split and start another church? There may be a time, and there have been times, when Christians are forced to part from a group and go elsewhere. Maybe they even start a brand new congregation. But that is not the rule, it should be the exception. The rule is that we need to work things out with humility, be patient, and have some mercy toward our brethren.
If you look at the churches of Asia for example, you can see that the Lord was incredibly longsuffering with them. Jesus stood at the door and patiently knocked, even when a church like Laodicea was so lukewarm it made Him want to vomit. The congregation in Thyatira had a woman there like Jezebel who somehow was encouraging the brethren to commit sexual immorality and leading them into idolatrous practices. Jesus gave them “time to repent.” Sardis was identified by Jesus as “dead,” but he encouraged the few who were still walking in white garments to keep on going and be faithful.
So, before you go running for the door, run to Jesus and have a heart check. Do some real introspection in prayer to make sure that leaving this congregation is what Jesus really wants you to do. He may want you to change you, not try to change a congregation.