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What Does the Bible Say About...Changing Churches?

First of all I would like to thank you for helping me many months ago with a problem I had concerning my boyfriend. I asked if I should stay with him because he was not a Christian at the time. I spoke to him about what you wrote, and he confessed to me that he had been reading the Bible and praying. Later he started going to a church one of his friends attended. I invited him to my church a few times, and he left very happy and kept telling me how strong my church seemed to be spiritually. He said that we seemed to be a family, while he wasn't sure how many people in his church were actually Christians because they weren't as friendly. I am just curious about what the Bible says about different churches, and whether it would be advisable for my boyfriend to move to another church. He feels bad because it is the minister at that church who taught him about God and helped him to become stronger in his faith, and he does not want to feel as if he is leaving him, but he feels unsatisfied with the spirituality of the people there. Would it be advisable for him to come to my church, or is that a bad idea seeing as how we are not married? Should he talk to his minister about his feelings or would it make his minister feel badly (because he is a very strong Christian)? Thank you for answering my (very long) questions, and I appreciate this site you have! All the answers are very educated and well-thought-out.

Answer

It is hard for me to give you a Bible answer to this question. At the time the Bible was written there was only one church, not the multitude of denominations we now have. Also there is some indication in the Bible that there was only one congregation in each city, so such a problem probably would not have come up. (Of course, cities were much smaller than many today.)

There would be absolutely nothing wrong with him attending where you do. In fact, if you are serious about each other I would hope that one or the other would want to attend where the other one was. If you donít intend to change congregations after you are married, then he certainly should attend there and get to know the people.

There are a couple of things he should consider before making such a move. If the churches are of different denominations or doctrines he should consider which one he believes from the Bible to be teaching the truth more completely. I would never want someone to leave the truth simply because of love for another person. Following God is more important.

If both congregations are of the same belief, then the main consideration is for other peopleís feelings. We are taught to love one another (John 13:34-35; Romans 13:8; 1 Peter 1:22; and others), and that includes considering their feelings in any decision that affects them. If the other congregation is not very friendly, if he leaves he may not even hear from any of them except the minister. If he is worried about hurting the feelings of the one who taught him, then he should explain his reasons for leaving the congregation. He owes him that much. However, if that person loves him as he should, he will not likely be hurt by the decision, but rather be happy for him. In this day and age, people move from one congregation to another frequently, so it has come to be expected, or at least accepted. No truly spiritual preacher should expect loyalty to himself, but loyalty to Christ. That was Paulís point in 1 Corinthians chapter 1. After all, your boyfriend is not thinking about a life-long relationship with that preacher, but he is thinking about one with you.

Thank you for your kind comments.