This is a response to Pastor Bryans blog where he talks about the negatives of church shopping, namely tradition, beliefs, style, and a lack of diversity. I’ll focus on tradition and diversity.
Tradition creates a feeling of comfort, which in and of itself is fine, but it can also lead to complacency. If one attends church A, because the primary reason is tradition, ie what one’s family has always done for generations, that can lead to trouble. I look back to my time in Belfast many years ago. Too many times folks said they were protestant or Catholic, because their grandparents were, the theological differences between faiths played a much smaller role than tradition and politics, some did not believe at all, but still used the faith labels. It was a sad deal for sure.
Granted, if one can present Christian witness as to why one attends a church, and include family tradition, its super great. However, one should also be aware of the dangers for those who cannot present a witness of their faith. In many ways, I think upending the generational construct for the most part is a positive thing, as it may lead to further questioning and a deepening of ones faith. If the family church is on the mark, folks will return after a period of time.
As far as the lack of diversity due to church shopping being negative, I wholeheartedly agree. Often times the resulting lack of diversity from transient birds of a feather flocking together makes outreach to the community difficult as cliques began to form. Also too much homogeneity can lead to problems in discipleship. There is less challenge and less conviction outside the scope of a very narrow socio-demographic arena. Otoh, one could also attribute the potential for this to occur in a generationally focused church, unless it has a real heart for outreach and evangelism.
Years back, I remember our adult Sunday school class, a elementary teacher, a truck driver, a janitor, a college professor, and an engineer. It was cool to have such diversity and to learn from one another. And yet, when folks church shop, they often times do not seek out diversity, instead they wish to find like minded people.