The Question

“So, where do you go to church now?”

If you have ever switched churches or crossed over denominational lines, this question probably strikes fear in your heart.  I feel like it is a passive aggressive way of saying, “So, you don’t go to my church anymore.  Have you left the faith?  I’ll pray for you.”

Whenever someone from a previous church asks me about the church I currently attend, I always feel the need to respond and defend.  For instance, last Friday, I bumped into a family friend at dinner.  The small talk began, and he then asked, “So are y’all still going to [Such-n-such] Church of Christ?”  Obviously, he had no intentions of condemning me; he was simply curious.

“No, we go to Cross Point Community Church now,” I responded.  The conversation could have progressed on to another topic at that point, but I felt the need to explain and defend my current position.  I quickly continued, “We joined a community group there and we teach Sunday School to the first through third graders.  We just love it.”

To cover up the gigantic elephant in the room (that may not have even been there in the first place) about switching denominations, I gave a quick defense argument to justify the switch.  While crossing denominational lines seems like a small act, to some, it is up there with re-writing the Bible or ignoring the Constitution.  At one point in church history, nearly every church felt as if theirs was the only church that was getting into heaven.  The other denominations destined for the lake of fire with the rest of the non-Christians.

It wasn’t enough to beat the Baptists to heaven, but we also had to get out of church early enough to beat them all to lunch.  Raise your hand if you thought (or still feel) that way.  I would like to hope that very few people still feel this way, but you never know.

In college, I started attending a Baptist Church, and whenever I would go back home, people would ask me which church I attended in Abilene.  “Well, I actually go to Beltway BAPTIST!!!!!”  No, I didn’t speak in all caps, and I certainly didn’t yell my answer, but that is most likely how it was received.  You could have heard the communion cups snapping at the mention of a Baptist Church.

Damage control: “But the preacher is great.  He speaks straight from the Bible, and we even had 3 baptisms last week.”

Whew, that was a close one.

When my parents came to visit, I was very nervous about breaking the news to them that we would be going to a Baptist Church the following day.  “What time are the services at [Generic] Church of Christ tomorrow?”

“Well, uh….Actually…Er…We’re going to Beltway” (I omitted the Baptist part) “But Max Lucado is preaching tomorrow, so it will be great.”

Case closed.  Max Lucado to the rescue.  Upon hearing his name, the waters were stilled, and all was at rest.  Most of this awkwardness was probably unwarranted.  Yes, it was a different experience, but I could tell that my parents were pleased that I was going to church in the first place.  To my knowledge, the location/denomination was not an issue.  One Sunday at that Baptist Church, my Church of Christ grandmother (in her late 70s at the time) tugged at my arm during the worship time and said with a smile, “I don’t know any of these songs, but I really like the words.”

Have you ever had to confess that you switched denominations?

How was it received?

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9 comments

  1. Dustin,

    First let me say I really enjoy reading your posts!

    I totally understand where you are coming from w/ this. My perspective is the other way around. I went to a Baptist church in high school and Assembly of God after that. It’s only in the past 2 years I attend Church of Christ. People now ask me where I go and I say “such&such Church of Christ” and feel I have to defend my answer. “There are some really great people in our church” or “they aren’t like the other CoCs of old.” I feel like I am being judged when I reply. Why can’t our “yes be yes?” As long as we are about Jesus’ work, does it matter where we go on Sundays?

  2. This is funny because my Dad, Wife, and I just had a long conversation about this very subject last weekend. He’s an elder at our church back home, and he’s hurt that we’re not getting as much out of their worship services as he thought we were. Of course, it’s not a salvation issue, but it does hurt him that we’re not being especially encouraged by the typical C of C worship service anymore. (We do take good things from it, I don’t want it to sound like it’s a waste)

    In our eyes, we’ve found a worship style that connects to our current culture, and allows a lot more freedom.(yes, at Beltway) And it’s not just because there’s instruments!

    We kind of left the conversation with no real solution. We are worried because he is hurt, and we also don’t know what to do now that we aren’t particularly moved by that style of worship.

    1. Thanks for your honesty. It’s one thing to defend our church attendance to strangers or friends, but when it involves our families, it’s a whole new ballgame. I hope that y’all and find some understanding and see eye to eye on this.

  3. Love your insight Dustin. It’s about the B-I-B-L-E, heart, commitment to Christ and his word. Thanks for opening the eyes of the hearts of many!

  4. I left my last church – and denomination – because of theological differences. So while I don’t mind telling people that I go to a new church (and part of me is glad to tell them that I am connected somewhere else with the hope that they realize that my former church isn’t the only church in the world), I get nervous at times that a random encounter in the grocery store will turn into me having to share why I believe their pastor is teaching a false gospel.

  5. Great post, Dustin! I love your perspective. I think it’s so easy to be more committed to our denominational creeds and doctrines than the actual cause of Christ. As I shared with you last week, I know about this whole thing all too well! I’m thankful for what I experienced and the resilience it produced in me.

    1. I definitely agree that our beliefs (and even loyalties) can be attached more strongly to our denominations than the actual message of Jesus. Our chat last week inspired this post, so props to you, sir.

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