The story of Buridan’s donkey tells of a donkey who is deciding between two equally appetizing bails of hay with equal weight, quality and measure. Despite both being great options, the donkey is unable to make this decision between the two bails and starves.
Due to the donkey’s indecisiveness, it was unable to enjoy either option. This story illustrates just how preposterous human conflict can be as people can lose great rewards due to their inability to make a simple choice.
This philosophy strongly parallels Christian college students’ experiences in the church searching process. They get torn between equally appetizing options and are unable to invest in or reap the benefits of either entity.
Church hopping is the act of visiting different churches, but never settling down and plugging into a single church body. This habit is common for college students and hinders their ability to experience the full capabilities of the Biblical church.
“I think students can get paralyzed by how many good choices they can make,” Redeemer Community Church’s college pastor Matt Francisco said. “There’s a very real fear of missing out.”
According to the official website of the city of Birmingham, there are over 1,300 churches in the Birmingham metropolitan area. From large megachurches to small one-room chapels and everything in-between, the church decision-making process can be strenuous for students.
It’s commonplace at Samford University for students to begin church hunting once arriving on campus. Students test out the waters of different communities and begin weighing the pros and cons in an attempt to settle in on a new church home.
“I liked the whole welcoming aspect and how as soon as I walked in, I already felt welcome,” freshman Ruthie Mathews said when describing her experience visiting the Grants Mill campus of Church of the Highlands. “I really put a lot of stress on like if the message correlates with what is going on and I really liked the praise and worship.”
After a few weeks or months of church hopping, some students begin to settle down and attend one place of worship. However, other students start paralleling the story of Buridan’s donkey and become torn between different, equally appetizing options.
“You have the freedom in Christ to choose either one,” Beeson Divinity student Mason Hicks said. “What I would object to is trying to make a commitment to both or just kinda church hopping back and forth between one or the other or any multitude of ones.”
The Bible refers to the church as a body, one group, one community. Being in a community requires dedication and commitment to the people and goals of the group.
“I also think the body of Christ is always meant to be poured into and invested in by other people, which on one level means the teaching of God’s word on a Sunday and hearing those things in worship but we’re also supposed to actually be known,” Francisco said. “People who can challenge what we think or challenge what we’re doing.”
Not fully investing in one church body is an easy yet harmful habit that many college students fall victim to. This leads to many students not having a dedicated Christian community and all the benefits that come with that.
Chad Jordan, Features Writer