When is it permissible to change congregations locally?


Dear Brother,

I’ll get right to the point with my question, and then some brief context. When is it permissible scripturally for a member and or their family to switch local congregations?

The context

We live in a town with several [perceived] biblically sound congregations, of which my family and I are a part of one. Recently due to the private sins of others that were brought out in public and the plague of Covid-19, our numbers have shrunk from about 120 to around 50. Some of our members lost heart after the sinful actions of others and moved on, others moved due to some discipline that was employed by our eldership. Others moved on when one of the head “entertainers” [my personal opinion] moved away to a different town, and others left for various other reasons including masks and youth group type of stuff.

So I read your article titled “Placing Membership.” In it, you state, "Please consider a few reasons why it is both Scripturally permissible and Scripturally necessary to place membership with a faithful church of Christ after leaving another.”

Can you elaborate on the “few reasons” why it is permissible for a member or family of members to leave a scripturally sound congregation and place membership at another one?


Brother Moses was addressing a problem that I've seen frequently in my area. The Omaha metropolitan region is quite transitory. People move in and out frequently. Sadly, we get visitors who tell us they moved into the area one month, three months, or six months ago. They just got around to checking out what congregations are in the area. I already know these people are not going to be faithful Christians because to them convenience is more important than service.

When I worked for a secular company and was told I would be moving for my next assignment, one of my first tasks was to locate where the nearest sound congregation was located because that determined where I would be looking for a house. I would contact the brethren to find out more about the area. And as soon as I arrived I was at the services.

Your problem is different. You speak of several sound congregations in your area, but you qualified it with "perceived" which indicates that you don't really believe they are the same. You mentioned that there have been numerous problems in your congregation and there are vague hints that the problems weren't handled well. You have disdain for one of the former preachers. You mention that the congregation didn't handle the COVID scare well. These are not marks of a strong, sound congregation.

The question is whether these attitude problems are rooted in the membership of the congregation or transitory. Are you able to stabilize the situation and encourage the brethren to overcome the difficulties? If, despite your best efforts, it looks as if the group isn't going to improve, then I understand the need to move to a congregation that understands what it means to be a fellowship of the Lord's people.

What I believe is wrong is for people to hop from congregation to congregation without an attempt to solve the problems in their current congregation. Or, to continuously hop from congregation to congregation and never become a part of a group.

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