Biola students thinking short-term with church hopping

Many Biola students continue to seek for a home church, hopping from place to place.

Michelle Hong, Writer

In order to get their weekly Sabbath fix, some students use the method of “church hopping,” which may sometimes turn into “church shopping” if not approached in the appropriate manner.

“A lot of people these days are consumers when it comes to church,” said biblical studies professor Jon Lunde.

Students seek many elements in a church

Students may look for elements that fit their liking in terms of entertainment, the “right” kind of worship or even the type of building.

“Most churches are doctrine-sound, but since worship is something I relate to the most, I’ll look for another church if the worship doesn’t speak to me,” junior Bethany Miller said.

Like Miller, many students are uncertain of what the deciding factor should be in choosing a church to regularly attend.

“A really relevant, cool pastor and worship are important for a lot of people,” Lunde said. “It becomes all about ‘me,’ and there’s something appropriate about that in the sense that you want to find a church where you are going to be nurtured and fed.”

However, he said that what tends to happen is, because there are glitzy mega church productions that initially attract many people, students may end up looking around until they find the one that wows them.

Moving on when things become dull

But because these types of things tend to get old, students may often just move on to the next one.

“For a limited and shorter amount of time, people want to go to and visit a bunch of different churches— and that can be fine if you’re being super intentional by figuring out what role you have in the church. But it can’t be a way of life,” said Torrey professor Matt Jenson.

He also said that, as Christians, we are first and foremost members of the body of Christ before any other earthly title. Jenson parallels the concept of being in a relationship to the concept of finding a church.

“If you’re church hopping, you’ll be girlfriend/boyfriend hopping and friend hopping,” Jenson said. “You need to learn how to commit in romantic ways as well as in platonic friendships, so that you can learn how to commit to a church and the God of the church.”
Staying on the fringes of a church— that is, just going to services and not getting readily involved— may also factor into the reasons why many people resort to church hopping.

“If you’re not there for your own needs entirely, but to invest your gifts and get involved, it’s really difficult to leave a church,” Lunde said.

Church as the body of Christ

Church is not only about an individual, but it is about being in a community and the collective body of Christ. So being an active participant in the church, in a broader scale, helps to reach the world by being involved in different ministries.

“Sabbath is a weekly reorientation theologically, to the reality of our utter dependence on God for everything,” Lunde said. “Going to church on a Sabbath on a regular basis enables us not only to take time off from our regular routine, but to consciously sit under the teaching of the Word, and participate in the free and Spirit-enabled response of worship to the God who holds us in his hand.”

Lunde believes that not having God as a priority sends the message to yourself and to others that you really do not need to depend on him.

Even older students are still seeking home churches

Miller said that, for many students, they believe they are too far into their college years to continue searching for a home church. She is personally continuing her search with the intention of finding a home church she can grow in, and experience a different church setting.

“All my life, I have been going to the same kind of typical evangelical church, so I’ve been trying to go to different churches that are more traditional,” Miller said.

Among many other things, intention is key.

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