Photo by Katrina Warme
A majority of college students are probably familiar with the term bar hopping, and it is likely that many of them (21 and older, that is) can attest to the advantages (or disadvantages) of staggering from bar to bar, trying different drinks and listening to the varieties of substandard Jukebox tunes.
Church hopping, ironically, is a lot like bar hopping (just please never mix the two, like, ever). If someone is going to go out with some friends to a bar, is it more beneficial for them to stay in one place to soak up the atmosphere, unearth its unique little facets and establish deeper connections with the strangers they meet? Or is it better to try out place after place, making memories and getting a general picture of each place to determine which are potential hotspots and which should never be visited again?
These are the same questions one might ask about church hopping. There are certainly a lot of advantages that go along with church hopping, especially during your four years of college, which are all about exploration and growth.
The first beneficial thing about church hopping is that you get to meet many different people. This is important in college (particularly at a college far from home) when you are striving to build a new community for yourself. With each new church you try, you walk in to see a multitude of smiling faces of the congregation’s members. This is an opportunity to make a diverse group of church friends.
Trying out a new church every few weeks may make it difficult to establish impactful friendships at first. But just take some time at each new service to reach out to the people there. This way you will be able to establish at least one connection at each new church, which will help you feel like you have a point of contact and meaningful fellowship with other believers.
Making these connections can also help you deeply explore what qualities you find important in a church. In turn, this will help you find a church that will wholeheartedly fit your needs, values and personality. Sticking to one church, one routine and one type of sermon prevents you from discovering the full range of church experiences.
What if there is a better fit for you elsewhere? What if there is the potential to unearth a whole new type of congregation, sermon and worship style that better fits your personality? These are things that are imperative to explore when deciding on a church, and the only way you will embark on this discovery is through the process of church hopping.
This also relates to another pro of church hopping: comparing options. Say you’re going to the grocery store in search of a watermelon. It’s not smart to go with the first one you see. Instead, you want to pick up a few and inspect each one to make sure the one you choose is the best. The same concept applies when picking out a church. If you just pick one and stick to it, you can’t compare your options. This is an important process when deciding on the place you are going to worship and practice your faith.
Comparing options is important because the ultimate reason college students go to church is for the deeper purpose of finding a place where they can develop their faith and their relationship with God. You might find this at one church, but trying out different churches allows you to gain an accurate picture of which church will allow you to achieve this purpose best.
If you want to make a true commitment to best develop your faith and to best connect with God, it is worth hopping around different churches so you can be 100 percent certain that the church you ultimately choose is the one that best helps you develop your faith, spiritual growth and knowledge, and relationship with God. This is especially important when you are on your college journey, which is a prime point in life to discover what values, morals and guidelines you are going to set for yourself in life.
All in all, church hopping is a process with the end result of finding the church that is absolutely perfect for you. Just like bar hopping, it is a process you undertake to find the best place to spend your time, and there is no other way to do this than to comparison shop.
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