Art by Caitlin Roark
Transitioning to college involves an almost infinite amount of change. From moving to revamping one’s wardrobe, only so much will stay the same after four years at university.
Among these changes is finding a new place to spend Sunday mornings. The task is daunting: to find a new place to worship with an unfamiliar congregation who is authentic and passionate about growing in their faith.
The first few months of classes may require some church shopping, but in the end, committing to regularly attend a local faith community will be far more beneficial than church-floating for four years.
Committing to a local church has the potential to give an important sense of home to the student who may feel like a stranger in a strange land. Being able to return to the same church week after week, allows for the wonderful opportunity for new relationships to form. Growing into the community of church and taking advantage of the intergenerational nature of church can provide a new home away from home.
Whether it be going to the grandparent-like couple’s home after church for a potluck or finding individuals who want to invest personally into a student’s life, the possibilities for community are endless.
On another note, service is an integral part of the most faiths, as evidenced by Pepperdine’s commitment to this value. There is no better way to live out a life of service than through a local church body. Church leadership and church members are often well aware of the needs facing their community, so there is no need to look any further for service opportunity.
While a student’s schedule may be a little too busy to go on a mission trip every weekend, churches provide ways to serve in small ways — like serving doughnuts and coffee on Sunday morning or working in the nursery. Churches prove to be an excellent resource for students who care about service, and the only way to know about these opportunities is to be involved.
Faith is not a solo journey. In fact, one cannot properly grow without the guidance and wisdom of other church members for discipleship along the way, as Caroline Lee wrote in her article “Fellow College Students, Please Join a Local Church” published Aug. 17, 2017 by The Gospel Coalition.
Churches provide the support to help students grow in their faith. However, this would be impossible without committing to a local body of believers. Regular attendance is the key to fostering meaningful relationships to help the student church member grow. Oftentimes churches near colleges and universities will have a specific ministry for those students, which can provide a fellowship of like-minded people of faith who have a desire to grow together.
No church is perfect just like no person is perfect, as Bruce Reyes-Chow wrote in his article “How to Choose a Church,” published Dec. 6, 2017 by The Huffington Post. There is very little chance that a student will be able to find a church that checks off all their boxes, but these students must engage in the search for an authentic community focused on growing their relationship with God.
There is one word of caution, though: If students invest into a meaningful faith community for four years, leaving those people after graduation may be one of the hardest things to do. Considering that the challenge comes from the love and care poured out from the church, students have much more to gain from finding this kind of community than from hopping from church to church each Sunday for four years.