Happy Saturday, folks! Emi here. I’d love to have a moment of your time to discuss a topic that has become really near and dear to my heart while at Dordt: church hopping.
For those who are unfamiliar with this term, “church hopping” is when you go to a different church practically every Sunday morning and never quite settle down and call a particular community home. (This is different than church “shopping,” which just means that you’re on the lookout for a church community.)
I know, I know -- it is so easy to just tag along with a group of friends and go wherever the free food is. Trust me, I did this for all of my first semester freshman year. Within the first month of school, I had one church that I was actually really interested in regularly attending, but none of my friends wanted to go there so I ended up church hopping with them for the whole semester.
Church hopping might at first seem like a fun way to mix things up every Sunday, but I’ve found that it is actually really unhealthy. Finding a solid church body to connect with while at college is crucial for further developing your faith. If you find yourself attending a different church every week, you can’t expect to truly connect with the people there -- and those relationships that you build are precisely where your spiritual involvement will thrive.
Let me break it down with a couple examples of how my faith was stagnant when I church hopped.
1. The friends that I came to church with were my only connections.
You guys. This one is major. When I church hopped, I was thoroughly nestled in the depths of my comfort zone. That sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? Little did I know, my comfort zone was a death sentence for my spiritual growth. I was not concerned one bit with engaging in the other members of the church. Church was simply something on my checklist, rather than an environment to help my faith flourish among other believers in Christ.
2. Loss of accountability.
During my church hopping times, I wouldn’t feel bad one bit about sleeping in on a Sunday and skipping church, because nobody except my friends would know that I wasn’t there. I don’t know about you, but that was really dangerous for me. I am, admittedly, not the most consistent or self-disciplined person. If I’m tired and nobody will notice my absence, there’s a good chance I won’t show. If you are anything like me, this loss of accountability is really going to threaten your spiritual growth.
3. No sense of spiritual belonging.
This ties in with number 1. Again, I understand how much easier it is to make church just a part of your checklist. But the truth is, connecting to a body of believers is incredibly impactful for your faith journey. Once you feel as if you belong at a church, it does wonders for the expansion and depth of your faith in Christ. If you really want to grow, find opportunities to serve, and engage with other Christians outside of your regular friend group, you need to find a church and attend regularly.
Within my first couple weeks at Dordt, I heard over and over again how necessary it was for me to find a church to call home. Being in Sioux Center, there are just so many options -- which is amazing, but does make it a bit difficult to find where you connect the best. So, I encourage you to explore, certainly, but have intentionality in that. Search, don’t hop. Don’t be a drifter like I was my first semester. Commit to consistently connecting, and you will definitely begin to see your faith thrive.
When searching for a church, keep in mind the things that you find important to your spiritual growth. For me, worship was a key element. My dad is a worship pastor, so the importance of engaging in meaningful worship has always been a crucial factor to connecting to God. Emphasis on the family unit is a big one for me, as well. I feel more able to grow in a church that has a large variance of ages. I think that God's body ought to be represented diversely, from newborns to people closer to heading to His kingdom. Find what matters to your growth, then go out and find where you connect best.
Thanks for letting me say my piece. As you can probably tell, I’m very passionate about this prominent issue within my generation. Have a wonderful rest of your Saturday, and a blessed Sunday rest.