Can't I just worship with different congregations each Sunday?

Question:

Good Evening Minister,

I have been a member of the Lord's church for over five years. I've been a faithful member; however, I had some concerns about some things that were going on in worship. I left my home-based church where I felt like I was ostracized because I'm a single woman. I began to get stressed, so I moved without telling the congregation. I still worshiped at other churches of Christ every Lord's day. However, I was told I left the church because I left my home-based church. When I came back I repented because I was told that the concerns I had with the church should have been addressed them and with each member. I have been told so many non-biblical things from seasoned Christian. However, when I spoke with the minister he said that we shouldn't expect Christian do not misbehave and that everyone comes in with their own set of problems. When I came back, the elder stated that all churches of Christ work autonomous and that each church governs itself. Is this true? So if I want to go to a different church of Christ every week, I can't? I'm really confused.

Please help! I didn't think worshiping the Lord should be this complicated.


Answer:

It appears you don't understand what it means to be a member of a church. While one of the things Christians do is worship together (I Corinthians 11:18), this is not the only thing Christians do. "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). Christians learn together; that is why we hold Bible classes. They work together, worship together, and pray together. Christians in a church watch out for each other so that all remain faithful. "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted" (Galatians 6:1). Brethren share the burdens of life with each other, motivated by their love for each other. "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). They encourage each other. "And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24-25).

You chose to disappear on your brethren. There is nothing wrong with moving to another congregation, but you aren't involved in any church. You only show up for worship at random churches and think that is sufficient. Meanwhile, your brethren at your original church are left wondering what happened and whether you are all right. They are not mind readers. They don't know you are worshiping at other places. But they are required by God to look after you. "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you" (Hebrews 13:17). If you wanted to place your membership with another church, then it would be kind to those you left behind to let them know that you are changing congregations. But you need to pick a church of which to become a member.

Yes, each congregation is independent. See: The Autonomy of the Local Church.

Now since all members of a congregation are trying to help each other reach heaven, it would make sense that if some are off-track that you gently approach them to find out what is happening and see if there is a way to get them back to following the Scriptures. That there are some who stray is just a fact of life because we all sin at times (I John 1:8,10). Hopefully when it happens to you, some among your brethren will be there to reach out to you to give you and hand returning to God.