There are any number of reasons for moving from one church to another. Some of these are positive, brave and ultimately life-giving. Others are a way of escaping from something or someone we would rather not have to deal with. Both ultimately bring us back to question who we are and where we are going on our faith journey.
Changing churches can be a step forward or a different way of standing still, or even a form of regression. But let’s start with the more positive reasons for making a move out of a familiar worshipping environment into one which may feel strange but which we nevertheless feel drawn to. It may be that a particular church or denomination has served us well until now but that we have reached a crossroad, or intersection, in our journey with God. We do not want to stand still and we sense that if we stay where we are and put down roots we will not move forward.
God’s Spirit is a dynamic force, an energy which keeps us moving both towards and within God. It keeps us intellectually alert and it nourishes us spiritually. To be intellectually alert requires that we risk changing the way we think. It obliges us to constantly review our opinions and our views of others, especially those others who we may have conveniently pigeon-holed as a certain kind of Christian, or maybe not a Christian at all. Moving churches may be the result of realising not so much that these others are right, concerning any one issue, but that they have something to give us which we need. We need to learn from them, to understand their faith language and therefore to understand where they are coming from in their theology or in the way they encounter God and worship him. We want to meet Jesus and worship him in a different way.
Changing churches because we have fallen out with someone or because of some internal political wrangle which has left us feeling slighted is unlikely to lead to a deeper and more truthful relationship with God. This is because the truth which needs to be faced first of all is ourselves in relation to the church we currently go to. Having faced the truth about ourselves in this context, and it is invariably painful, moving on may still be the right thing to do but we will be doing it in a different frame of mind. It will be an adventure full of anticipation and hope for the future.