There’s a phenomenon taking place in the church today; one that hasn’t happened before (in my opinion). The “Shuffling of the Saints” is what I call it. People changing churches like they’re playing musical chairs.
God refers to the ordeal, and the people involved, in a number of different ways.
For instance: God says they have “itching ears.”
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NKJV)
“Itching ears” people turn from truth and turn to fables, man-made ideas and doctrines; ideas that are easy to believe and even easier to follow. Less demanding, greater degree of freedom to do what one wants without feeling guilty.
Another reason saints are shuffled: “the offended”.
“And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.” (Matthew 24:10 NKJV)
“Offended” people, by and large, shift from church to church without ever dealing with the real issue or offense. They carry it with them wherever they go; in fact, because the problem never gets corrected, they end up infecting each church they attend. The problem? Themselves! Thin skinned, selfish, got-to-have-their-own-way kind of people. Of course, they never admit to that; no, they change churches because God “told them” to. Instead of dealing with an offense in a scriptural manner, then “shuffle” on off to a new pasture.
Still, another aspect of the phenomenon is an unwillingness to endure correction or discipline. “Undisciplined disciples”.
“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:3-11 NKJV)
“Undisciplined disciples” won’t take correction from anyone “but God”! They believe that makes them appear to be very spiritual, but actually, it reveals their true immaturity and carnality. The Lord placed leaders in His church, who’s responsibility is to watch over other’s lives (Hebrews 13) and help bring correction, which grows into maturity and holiness.
Sure, there are times when the Lord really does move people from one church to another. But that’s not what I’m referring to.
If you and I are to grow up into Him, as mature, spiritual men and women, we had better learn to settle in to the fellowship of God’s choice. Endure correction, develop “thicker skin” so we’re not so easily offended, and keep our “ears” clean and clear; they’re less likely to itch that way.
Churches marketing their “services” can be a subtle part of the “shuffling phenomenon”, as well. Of course, they are really just trying to “reach the lost”. But how many “lost” people do you know who really give two hoots about all the programs designed for “believers”? Honesty could go a long way here.
Churches cater to and draw the saints who have their “shuffling shoes” on! “Welcome, child of God! Hope you will like us enough to stay and help us grow. Sure, you may have stirred up trouble at your last church, but that’s okay. We could use your offering; I mean, we could use your talents.”
Swap and shop! Way too much going on these days. If God is going to have a beautiful church to greet Him when He comes, the swapping and shuffling needs to stop!