Seventeen Churches

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This morning, I was pondering how many churches in my 43 years I’d spent at least three months attending. The number came up seventeen; they are listed below in close to chronologicial order (though I returned to the Springdale Vineyard twice after returning to the Cincinnati area.) I spent at least three years in the churches listed in boldface.

  • First Lutheran Church—Cincinnati, OH
  • Hope Lutheran Church—Cincinnati, OH
  • Trinity Lutheran Church—Mt. Healthy, OH
  • Shadyside Presbyterian Church—Pittsburgh, PA
  • First Christian Assembly of God—Cincinnati, OH
  • Fellowship Christian Church—Cincinnati, OH
  • College Hill Presbyterian Church—Cincinnati, OH
  • Elmbrook Church—Brookfield, WI
  • Vineyard Community Church—Springdale, OH
  • Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Wheaton—Wheaton, IL
  • Assemblies of God Church—Naperville, IL ?
  • Willow Creek Community Church—S. Barrington, IL
  • Ginger Creek Community Church—Aurora, IL
  • Vineyard Christian Fellowship of San Jose—San Jose, CA
  • Vineyard Christian Fellowship of the Peninsula—Palo Alto, CA
  • Montgomery Community Church—Montgomery, OH
  • Clear Mountain Community Church—Williamsburg, OH

That seems like a lot, but when you factor in college and moving, maybe it’s not unusual. How many churches have you attended for at least three months?

29 thoughts on “Seventeen Churches

  1. Gaddabout

    I never dawned on me one could change churches until I moved to Sacramento. Up until then I had been in two churches my entire life — my father’s and the one I helped plant. That’s over 30 years in two churches. It took me a year to find a church, and after six months, we returned to Phoenix and the church I helped plant.

    Both churches have always had an ecumenical outlook — we sought out other like-minded churches in our neighborhod to combine outreach ministries, so I’ve never known much harsh sectarianism in my life. When my father had his church in South Phoenix, I spent as much time in a black Baptist church as I spent in our Church of God. I never really appreciated that (their services went LOOOONG) until I went to college and I realized I had grown up in a much different culture than the average white suburbanite. I was much more comfortable among the ethnic students and foreign students in our Christian groups than I was with the kids who grew up down the street from me.

  2. The Christian Woman

    Wow, that’s quite a variety. Have you ever written about how you went from Lutheran to AOG? That’s seesm liek quite a change.

    I’ve belonged to 3 different churches in my ~8 years as a Christian. All changes due to moving.

  3. My mom took me to the same mainline Christian church all the years I was growing up, but I won’t count that one because I didn’t come to personal faith in Christ until I was 24. Since coming to Christ in 1976, I have attended/been a member of three evangelical nondenominational/interdenominational churches:

    Boise Valley Christian Communion (1976 – 1979)
    Trinity Fellowship, Boise (1979 – 2002)
    Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Boise (2002 – present)

    I really believe in the local church as a faith community, of putting down deep roots, of growing where the Lord plants me. When I did change my church home, it was after much prayer, studying of Scripture, use of Grudem’s Systematic Theology (particularly the section on church government), and counsel from a trusted pastor friend who lives in another state. I have sat under the teaching of some very anointed pastors, others who were warm shepherds for their flock.

    Robin

  4. codepoke

    8 churches in 34 years, but probably 9 of those years I was unchurched – no, not backsliding, just unchurched.

    15 of those years were in 3 home churches. I would have expected to see some home churches in your list, Dan. I know you have written about them, and as I recall you seemed to indicate that you had experience with them before you rejected them.

  5. When I was in catechism at Trinity Lutheran Church, we used a teaching guide called “Our Neighbor’s Faith.” After we had studied Lutheran thought, we went through this study guide and actually attended Episcopal, AoG, Methodist, Presbyterian, Greek Orthodox, and other services. It really opened my eyes and I don’t think I was the same person after that. At the same time, I gave my life to the Lord during a retreat at a Lutheran camp, so a lot was happening spiritually at that time.

    Ironically, my experience at that one AoG church was so profound that I started going there when my Lutheran church and I no longer saw eye-to-eye on what was important in life (repaving the parking lot was important, but world missions was not—ugh.) The pastor of the AoG church was a neighbor, so it was good. I learned a lot there. But even though the pastor was a neighbor, the church was nowhere near my neighborhood. I felt I needed to be ministering in the same community in which I lived. That eventually led me to College Hill Pres.

    I took a camping job in WI and when I came back to OH, all the leadership of College Hill had left in just one year. Not only that, but all the people I knew and cared about most had left during that same time. Many of them had gone to the new Vineyard in Springdale (College Hill was a Reformed charismatic church back before that had a label or any traction), and that’s where I ended up for most of thirteen years.

    I never quite found the church I wanted to attend while at Wheaton. The Vineyard there was unusual and not at all like my home church. I wound up at Willow Creek and Ginger Creek because I was doing schoolwork associated with those two churches, so I probably would not have stayed there otherwise.

    As for house churches, I’ve been involved in some long-time small groups that are fairly close to a house church. We still attend the small group from our old Vineyard church in Springdale, and that group is very much like a house church.

    But moving forced a lot of changes. Many of those 17 were due to my parents moving (the first three) and then me moving for college, camp work, or other jobs. I saw that Robin listed only three churches in her life, but they are all in the same town. I wish I’d been that rooted! But then again, having been in so many different churches in different places has given me a wide-ranging look at how churches work. This blog probably exists for that reason.

  6. You’re right, Dan. I have lived in Boise all of my life. When I made my comments about being rooted in a local church, I was meaning those who remain in the same community. When a person/family moves, that necessitates finding a new church. I agree that it gives you a unique perspective. Of course, I have spoken for many different churches and visited other services outside of my own community, but I have nowhere close to your experience.

    Robin

  7. Robin,

    Like I said in my previous post, you have the advantage of roots. That’s something my wife and I have been trying to establish. We may be there now, but circumstances have moved us around more than we would like. Leaving the Vineyard I was a part of for thirteen years was hard, but we had to.

    You suffer a little death every time you break off from a church, especially when the church you’re in is great. I’m praying we can stay in our current church for a long time. But He knows the way should take, so who knows but Him?

    BTW, I forgot to mention that I think what your church is doing with incorporating holistic environmental care into everyday living is outstanding. I wish more churches didn’t force that into a sacred/secular divide.

  8. rev-ed

    Hmmm… gotta think.

    Pierceton Methodist (64-69)
    North Winona Church of the Brethren (70-80)
    Muncie Church of the Brethren (82-85)
    North Winona again (90-91)
    College Park United Brethren (92-97)
    current church ever since.

    I guess that makes five. There were a lot of church visits between 1985 and 1990, but nothing that really would have qualified as three months.

  9. Annette Harrison

    That’s very interesting list, Dan. Intersting to me because I attended Elmbrook Church from 1976 until last year when I came under the teaching ministry of Alistair Begg and also started reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones and decided to look for a reformed church. In addition, two of my kids go to Willowcreek – one to the Barrington campus and one to the Wheaton campus. Small world, eh? When were you at Elmbrook?

  10. Bob

    What an interesting list. Mine is quite a bit shorter:

    1) Redeemer Lutheran Church, Cape Elizabeth, ME (1992-2000)

    2) VCF of Greater Portland (Maine) (2000-present)

  11. I knew people were going to start asking for dates. I resisted that. Let’s see how good my memory is:

    * First Lutheran Church—Cincinnati, OH (1962-70)
    * Hope Lutheran Church—Cincinnati, OH (1970-72)
    * Trinity Lutheran Church—Mt. Healthy, OH (1972-83)
    * Shadyside Presbyterian Church—Pittsburgh, PA (1982-83, college)
    * First Christian Assembly of God—Cincinnati, OH (1982-1984)
    * Fellowship Christian Church—Cincinnati, OH (1984)
    * College Hill Presbyterian Church—Cincinnati, OH (1984-89)
    * Elmbrook Church—Brookfield, WI (1988-89)
    * Vineyard Community Church—Springdale, OH (1989-96, 2000-2004)
    * Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Wheaton—Wheaton, IL (1990-91, college)
    * Assemblies of God Church—Naperville, IL ? (1991, college)
    * Willow Creek Community Church—S. Barrington, IL (1991-92, college)
    * Ginger Creek Community Church—Aurora, IL (1992, college)
    * Vineyard Christian Fellowship of San Jose—San Jose, CA (1996-1997)
    * Vineyard Christian Fellowship of the Peninsula—Palo Alto, CA (1997-2000)
    * Montgomery Community Church—Montgomery, OH (2004)
    * Clear Mountain Community Church—Williamsburg, OH (2004-present)

  12. Okay, before someone asks about denominations:

    * First Lutheran Church—Cincinnati, OH (LCA)
    * Hope Lutheran Church—Cincinnati, OH (ALC)
    * Trinity Lutheran Church—Mt. Healthy, OH (ALC, later ELCA around the time I left)
    * Shadyside Presbyterian Church—Pittsburgh, PA (PCUSA, but conservative)
    * First Christian Assembly of God—Cincinnati, OH
    * Fellowship Christian Church—Cincinnati, OH (Non-D)
    * College Hill Presbyterian Church—Cincinnati, OH (PCUSA, but extremely conservative)
    * Elmbrook Church—Brookfield, WI (Non-D, though I thought they were EV Free at the time)
    * Vineyard Community Church—Springdale, OH
    * Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Wheaton—Wheaton, IL
    * Assemblies of God Church—Naperville, IL ?
    * Willow Creek Community Church—S. Barrington, IL (Non-D)
    * Ginger Creek Community Church—Aurora, IL (Non-D church plant of Willow Creek)
    * Vineyard Christian Fellowship of San Jose—San Jose, CA
    * Vineyard Christian Fellowship of the Peninsula—Palo Alto, CA
    * Montgomery Community Church—Montgomery, OH (American Baptist)
    * Clear Mountain Community Church—Williamsburg, OH (Pentecostal)

  13. Ten churches. Eleven if I include my college campus ministry, which held weekly meetings. Fourteen if I include the three churches that I do not remember how much time I attended. Interestingly enough, one of those three was where I asked Jesus into my heart. Another of those three was where I was baptized. And the third was a breakaway church from one of my home churches (which I did not know until some time after I began to visit there).

    When my mother told me that some people had been attending my childhood church (the first one I can remember) ever since I was a toddler there, I was astonished. I am so used to switching churches, it boggles my mind that someone can go to one church for so long.

  14. salguod

    OK, I’ll play.

    When I was a kid, my family weent to what I think was a Unityed Church of Christ. We moved when I was 8, so I don’t remember. The one’s I DO remember:

    – Glendale Presbyterian, Toledo OH (’76-’86)
    – Cincinnati Church of Christ, Cincinnati OH (’88-’90)
    – NYC Church of Christ, NYC (Jan-March ’91)
    – Cincinnati Church of Christ, Cincinnati OH (’92-’93)
    – Detroit Church of Christ, Detroit MI (’93-’96)
    – Columbus Church of Christ, Columbus OH (’96-present)

    Not much variety. Each change was due to a move. The NYC anamoly was an internship.

    BTW – Dan, I was at UC from ’86-’91 and I visited College Hill Presbyterian once or twice in ’87 or ’88 before settling in a the Cinci COC. So you and I may have been in the same room before. 🙂

  15. Weekend Fisher

    Let’s see,
    My current church: 1996-present
    Lord of Life (previous city): 1992-1996
    Gethsemane (before moving): 1987-1992
    University Lutheran: 1984-1986
    House of Prayer (before moving): 1976-1984.

  16. Jennifer

    First Baptist Church of Blanchester, OH (birth – age 10)

    Trinity Baptist Church of Middletown, OH (age 10 – 18)

    Berachah Baptist Church of Middletown, OH (age 18 – 23)

    Washington Heights Baptist Church of Centerville, OH (age 25 – age 30)

    Miami Valley Community Church of Miamisburg, OH (age 32 – current)

  17. Ronni

    Hrm.. well I don’t feel too bad…

    Bible Baptist church (7 years)
    Emmanual Baptist Church (1 year)
    Christ Community Church (13 years)
    Wells of Salvation (2 years)
    Bethany Fellowship Church (my schools church, required chapel)(1)
    River Heights Vineyard (1) attended during school
    Dayton Vineyard (5)
    Fishgate Community Church (.5) (new plant)

    That isn’t too bad… I’m not a church hopper… I do shop when looking for a home church but I’ve had God direct me and then I stay for a while.

  18. ScrapbooksbyKarrilee

    Hey there… I am fairly new to the Blogging world & rarely post, but I found this so interesting! I have attended apx 11 churches in the past 15 years. I live in the same small town I was raised in. I know that right away people could assume that we are ‘church hoppers’ or looking for a ‘perfect church’. We are not… we’re looking for a ‘home’. I was raised in the New Age & so my first ‘church’ was before I became a Christian. After I got saved at 21, I got plugged into a Church of God church with my then boyfriend/now husband & my sister & her family. We quickly grew in the Lord & were involved in that church in leadership for 7 years. We literally got called out of that place – & yes – I agree – a part of you dies when you leave a church – you leave a part of yourself there & maybe in some cases – a part of your dream. In the 8 years following, we have been involved in – as I said – 8-10 other churches. My favorite one was the Home church that we started/attended right after leaving the COG church. That was an anointed, blessed time for us. We are now attending an AOG church & feel that this is where we are to be – altho it is not necessarily feeling like ‘home’. I have learned two things in this on-going search… (1)Don’t take that “Home” feeling for granted – it is a gift from God – and as much as it SHOULD be prevalent in the Body – it is not always – it’s one of those anointed, ordained seasons… so if you are in it – enjoy it & cherish it – & if you’re not – pray for it & expect it still! (2)God moves us through Seasons. I know many people DO tend to church hop & they ARE looking for perfection – or at least comfort… but often times God will move us from one place to another for a season to accomplish something & then move us on… I am all for setting down roots – in fact I pray with all my heart that where we are now is where He will plant us firmly… but I know that throughout my searching – I have never lost my roots in HIM – nor have I felt ‘lost’ or ‘abandoned’! He is my Shepherd, & I know His voice. So – whew – sorry – all of that to say this – we visited more churches but these are the ones that we prayed about & tried to get connected in (-#1) …each of these churches played a part in our growth in Christ & while most of them were not where we were to be longterm – they are excellent churches & many are growing & thriving in them:
    (1) Unity Church (before Christ)
    (2) Christian Life Center (COG)
    (3) Yakima Foursquare
    (4) Yakima Vineyard
    (5) Yakima Evangelical
    (6) Restoration
    (7) Open Bible
    (8) Mountain Top Int’l(Prayer & Praise Center)
    (9) West Valley Foursquare
    (10) City Light (‘plant’ for the City Church)
    (11) Yakime Stone Church (AOG)

  19. Julana

    Maybe we’re not as different as I thought. Or you’re different right along with us.
    My grandfather attended the same church his whole life.

  20. Steve B

    How many churches have you attended for at least three months?
    I have only been to 2 churches in the past three months, and the one I did go to was to visit to see what people were talking about.
    In my lifetime I had been to at least a dozen different Catholic Churches.
    St. Raymond’s CC, Rosevill, MI(when I was a child but I don’t remember a single second of it)
    St. Patrick’s CC, Croswell, MI
    St. John’s CC, Peck, MI
    St. Dennis CC, Lexington, MI
    Newman Center CC, Port Huron, MI
    Holy Trinity Student Parish CC, Ypsilanti, MI
    Sacred Heart CC, Yale, MI
    North Branch Wesleyan Church, North Branch, MI (just visited)
    Holy Cross CC, Marine City, MI
    St. Isadore’s CC, Chesterfield Twnshp, MI
    St. Mary, Queen of Creation CC, New Baltimore, MI
    St. Andrew’s CC, Saline, MI
    St. Anne’s, Redford, MI
    First United Methodist Church, Briton, MI
    St. Malachy’s, Sterling Heights, MI
    Bethesda Christian, Sterling Heights, MI (my home church where I really found G-d)
    Kensington Christian Community, Troy, MI (just visited last Sat.)

    I’ve probably visited more than what I listed here, but I can’t remember them.

  21. Let’s see:
    Whittwood Methodist
    Granada Heights Friends
    Evangelical Church of Bangkok
    Kristajak Jai Samarn
    Christs Church of the Valley
    Sierra Madre Congregational Church
    Church of the Open Door
    Fellowship Church
    West Village Christian Church

    I never thought much of denominations. We preach Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

  22. Justin Jagiella

    This was all interesting-
    Me- St. Joseph, Hammond IN 1964-1970
    St. Helens Hebron IN- 1970-1971
    St. Casimirs- Gary IN 1971-1994
    St. Marys Crown Point, IN 1994-1998
    First Assembly of God/Living Hope Merrillville, 1998-Present
    I have found where I need to be!!!

  23. Discovered your blog today, and found this post interesting since I can also claim 17 churches from 8 denominations. I drew a paycheck from 11 of them as an organist, and have enjoyed membership in 9 of them. This is what happens when you go to several schools (studying church music) and then marry a Navy man. I will soon be shifting to my 18th church. What an interesting perspective it gives!

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