College is an exciting adventure – you are moving away from home, meeting new people and getting your first taste of independence. For the next four or more years, you will be learning a lot – both academic and otherwise. This knowledge will help you grow in many ways, especially as it relates to your faith. In your eagerness to start this new chapter, make sure to keep in mind some important tips that will help you make the most out of your experience, while also helping you to keep Christ front and center. Here are some essentials for every Christian college student:
Community (It’s Necessary)
Building a Christ-centered community on campus is crucial for every Christian college student. It’s important that you are surrounded by people who love Jesus, who are on a similar faith walk, who will encourage you spiritually. The Bible reminds us that we are put in relationships in order to encourage one another in our pursuit of God and His Kingdom. Community also challenges us to be more like Jesus. We are more like Jesus when we interact and love those around us. The Bible tells us, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). It is within the context of community that we are given the opportunity to discover our gifts and talents and use them to bless others.
Community is also a space where we can truly grow as followers of Christ. Get involved with Christian organizations on campus. You will find brothers and sisters in these spaces who will walk alongside you when you are in need of support, prayer, or a shoulder to cry on. Community carries you emotionally, and it’s important that we are around people who are willing to support us in good times, but also in hard times. .
A Local Church
It is vital that you not only find, but also commit yourself to a local church. Finding the church will be easy. It’s committing yourself that can be the challenge, especially with all the distractions on campus that have the potential to pull you away from your faith. This also ties back into the community conversation. Never more are we reminded how church isn’t a place, but a people than with on-campus ministries. There are some really amazing campus ministries out here that are doing powerful things in the local community and are also getting people enrolled in Christ. We aren’t being ourselves when we are not involved in a Gospel-centered, Christ-exalting local church.
Don’t choose isolation. In your first years of college, it’s important that you have the on-campus experience. This includes roommates and dorm life. Yes, roommates will keep you up way too late, and wake you up way too early. Yes, they can drive us up a wall with their habits and behaviors. But your roommates can be amazing friends and allies. They are also exactly the people God is calling you to love. Don’t wait until you feel the love from them. Embrace them. Love them until you feel love for them. The Bible tells us, “Love is patient, love is kind. It always protects, always trusts, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthian 13: 4, 7-8). Allow your roommates to see Christ’s love through you. Though you may have your issues and breakdowns, this is no reason not to love.
This may seem like a no brainer, but the Bible is essential for every Christian college student. No matter what you face in school, Scripture has an answer for it. It also contains God’s will for our lives. That is why the Bible was given to us. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “All Scripture is given the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” God’s Word is totally sufficient for all our needs. As Christians, we can be totally secure in the Lord by studying the Bible because it contains God’s plan for our life. It’s imperative that we engage with the Bible daily, and not lose sight of God’s message in school. It can only strengthen us.
An Openness to Learn
What you learn in college can help you grow spiritually. In fact, learning is one of the most spiritual things we can do. In college, you will be confronted by many people who disagree with you. It’s easy to get confused or overly defensive in these moments but don’t. What many people fail to realize is how these moments are great opportunities to bear witness to Christ. You can learn a lot from those who disagree with you. From these experiences, you can sympathize with their perspective and see things from their point of view, while also being vocal about your faith and where you stand. It is hard for those around you to respect your disagreement with them unless they feel you’ve understood them.
Christian students can face many challenges in school, especially as it relates to their faith identity. If you’re dealing with any of these challenges, it may cause you to question your faith. Questions can show up like: “Is this my faith or the faith of my parents?,” “What do I believe?,” and “Why do I believe it?”. However, your college experience can reveal the quality and depth of your faith. When we find a faith community and deal with these essential questions, we have the opportunity to really strengthen our faith.