College is a big transition time for everyone. It is usually the first time you are trying to live independently from your parents. They may be helping you pay for school but you are now living in a dorm having to fend for yourself on a day to day basis. With this massive transition it is easy for us to put going to church on the back burner.
There have been many studies done to try and explain the phenomenon that is college students leaving the church. There is a real pressure in college to put your degree and your social life ahead of church attendance. The problem is that college is the time you need the church the most.
With all this pressure, how do you stay Christian in college?
Find a Local Church to Attend
When you are looking at what college you are going to apply to you should also be looking at what churches there are around. We can spend weeks researching which college will give us the best experience and education but we then spend mere minutes looking for a church in the area.
When I was deciding what college I would go to for my degree I ended up going to one that was about 20 minutes from my home church. One of the major reasons was because I knew I had a church that I could not only attend but also be a part of. Don’t do a quick google search for churches near your school. Research them. Listen to the pastor’s sermons. Look up what they believe. See what programs they have. If you travel to check out the school for a few days, go to a church service while you’re there.
Being a part of a gospel-centred church in your college years is absolutely vital for your spiritual health.
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many” – 1 Corinthians 12:14
Don’t just be a spectator. You are going to spend at least four years at college, you should also be spending those four years as a dedicated, serving member of a local church. When you start attending, introduce yourself to the pastors and ask how you can serve.
You are a member of the body, use your gift.
I know college is a busy time. There is endless amounts of papers and exams. I know from experience that there is always time to serve. It may mean you don’t spend a whole night playing video games with the boys but making an eternal investment in what your church is doing is far better than getting that high score.
Help set up for events. Be a youth leader. Volunteer for kid’s ministry. Serve in the kitchen. There are so many opportunities that really don’t take up a lot of your time.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” – Hebrews 10:24-25a
This is a tough one for a lot of people. It’s always awkward when you go to a church for the first time. You don’t know anyone. Everyone has their group of friends already. You feel like an outsider. Be intentional about getting to know people. If there’s young adult social or a church prayer meeting, make it a priority to attend. These will help you make connections with people that can lead to long lasting friendships.
Don’t just stick with your own age group either. Try to make connections with people who are older and wiser than you. Invite them to speak godly wisdom into your life. Ask them out for coffee. It’s amazing the conversations that happen over a good cup of coffee.
“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness” – 1 Timothy 4:7
The Christian life isn’t easier and it doesn’t get any easier at college. Whatever stage of life you are in, you must be disciplining yourself to grow in your knowledge and love for God. Being swamped with assignments doesn’t give you a pass on taking time to read your Bible or pray.
Life can get really busy at times in college. You may have to get a little creative to keep up with the spiritual disciplines. Make sure you have a Bible app on your phone so you can pull it out and read a few verses on the bus or before class starts. Download some podcasts that you can listen to while you walk to class. Make prayer a habit by praying before you sleep at night or right when you wake up in the morning. Pray throughout the day.
This is another reason why inviting community is so important. It gives you people that can keep you accountable in your Bible reading and your prayer life. You can even get your friends from home to text you every day to check up on you.
Growing in your relationship with God is the most important thing that you can dedicate yourself to during your college years.
For those of us who aren’t college students, make every effort to look out for those students who are attending your church. Connect them and get to know them. You can make a lasting impact by simply introducing yourself and walking with them through their college years.