When Should We Church Hop?

The great thing about writing the Church Hopping column is that I get to write about the beauty of churches. However, as the name implies, there are some people who seem to always be hopping from church to church because they disagree with the way the message is being presented at their home church or they are continually disatisfied with the community experience or they're looking to be a part of the next popular church. Sometimes there are valid reasons to hop on over to another church, and sometimes it's just nitpickiness. A recent story about a Christian school made me stop to wonder what is worth walking out of a ministry for.

As I posted over on my personal site, Asphalt Eden:

A Christian fundamentalist high school in Ohio recently said one of its students will be suspended if he takes his girlfriend to her prom at a secular school, according to the Associated Press. The Baptist school has an 84-page handbook of rules and has students sign a statement of cooperation. The school forbids dancing, holding hands, and considers rock music "part of the counterculture which seeks to implant seeds of
rebellion in young people's hearts and minds." We wonder if that includes DC Talk and Audio Adrenaline and bet they certainly frown upon Underoath and Haste
the Day.

"In life, we constantly make decisions whether we are going to please self or please God. [Seventeen-year-old Tyler Frost] chose one path, and the school committee chose the other," said Tim England, principal of Heritage Christian School.

It got me thinking: Should the high-schooler agree with his school? I mean, we do all remember how it turned out on 90210, right? Should he respectfully disagree by making a public statement but still abide by the school's rules? Should he go to prom?

Should his parents yank him out of a school that inflicts such rules since his stepdad was quoted as saying he believes his son should be allowed to go to prom? Or, should they teach him the value of loyalty and respect for authority by keeping him in the school? After all, it is just prom.
When should one decide to leave a ministry and hop on over to another one?

[image via Flickr]


  1. My understanding is that this youth is about to graduate. There's no pulling him out of school.

    I don't agree with the school's stance. But the parents were consumers and bought a poor product.

    They're simply stuck.

    Let the buyer beware.

  2. I'm thick in this debate in my head. I've a friend who's struggling with this question. This morning i stumbled upon a quote from this old article on Christianity Today. I re-read it. It deals much with this very question, and challenges me to tell him to stick it out. What do you guys think of this:

  3. This is very cut and dried to me. The school's policies may be unsound, theologically and in other ways, but they were very clear about this to the kid and his parents before he enrolled. His parents are blowing an opportunity here to show their kid the importance of keeping your word. Even if they don't agree with the policy, they should not be rebelling, and certainly shouldn't be whining to the media.

  4. When we bought our house in Phoenix, there's a bylaw on the original deed (from the '40s) that says no people of "Negroid, Indian, Mexican or Oriental descent" can live in my neighborhood.

    Should I keep my word and kick out the Asian guy who lives next door?

    Stupid rules are stupid rules, and people change in four years, contracts or no. Should the kid follow the law? Maybe. Should the principal stop being a royal jerk? Absolutely.

  5. Ah, but that wasn't *your* word, Jordan. Anyway, i don't see where it says he can't go to prom, just that he can't hold hands or dance. So, he could go and not hold hands or dance. After all, my prom date junior year did neither of those things. Of course, that sucked and pretty much killed all interest i had in that girl...

  6. well, we signed the title. It's not quite the same, but I think there are some parallels.

    like most other world conflicts, this seems like it could easily be remedied by watching "Footloose".


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  8. Jordan:

    Apples & oranges.

    When one enrolls a kid in a private, christian school, it is beyond obvious that rules will be in place which are different from those in public schools.

    If you enroll your kid, you need to read before you sign, and if you don't agree with what you read, then don't sign. But if you do read, and then sign, then you are saying you will follow the rules. To go back on your word is not usually a good thing anyway, but it's especially undesirable in this case, as the parents are teaching their kid to do the same.

  9. @James:

    Tyler Foster is engaging in civil disobedience. He is aware of a current law that is stupid, and he is choosing to go ahead and break that law, fully aware of the consequences. I'm going to slip into hyperbole a bit, but would you say Rosa Parks deserved a stern lecture on following the letter of the law by riding on the back of the bus?

    What I'm not understanding is why Tyler Foster is the problem, and not the legalism of this 84-page handbook, and the pious arrogance of those who wield it.

    His parents are another matter (they signed him up for this school, after all), but Tyler Foster should be applauded for standing up to ridiculous dogma.

  10. Jordan, would the issue then be this: Do parents have the right to sign minors to contracts with moral clauses?

  11. that is a good question, larry. i mean, i guess legally they do. But I think there are extenuating circumstances, considering the kid is now 17 years old.

    My feeling is, there's a difference between the letter of the law and the spirit. The letter of the law is intended to keep kids from sinning, but in reality it's building a sheltered fort around a campus the world cannot get into.

    Eventually, the kids leave that shelter, and they will not do well without understanding the spirit of the law (why following the law is beautiful and good). They won't care care about the letter of the law, because that is gone.

    And, when it comes to laws, forbidding dancing is one of the more ridiculous.

  12. I still see apples and oranges. I won't comment beyond this, as it's an "agree to disagree" moment. But I think there's a difference between a law, (which applies to everyone and the only way to avoid it is to leave the country), and a private school's rules, which the kid could have avoided at the beginning by simply not enrolling at this school.

  13. I see your point, James. And I recognize the absurdity in comparing this kid to Rosa Parks. This was a situation his family paid to put him in, where African-Americans had no choice.

    Ultimately, I think the lesson of standing by your word is an important one, and I respected the students I knew who attended Bible college and, even if they disagreed vehemently with the contracts they signed, followed them to a T.

  14. so the kid was told what the consequences of his actions would be and he still did it as an act of civil disobedience? Well I applaud the statement that the kid was trying to make but he must have known that he would have to deal with the consequences of his actions. I completely disagree with that schools policies but as a private school, it is their rule to make and enforce.