In addition to being a Christian author and speaker, I am currently in my thirtieth year of youth and family ministry—ten of which were spent in campus ministry. So when I say that college and Christianity can co-exist, I know what I’m talking about.
The operative word in that statement, however, is can. The two can co-exist when a student wants them to and when they consciously work to make it happen.
Leaving home—a test of faith
For the majority of Christian college-age young people, leaving home to begin their college career is also their initiation into managing their time without any help from Mom and Dad.
For the first time ever, many college-age young people have 24/7 responsibility for getting up and getting to class on time, deciding how late to stay out at night, how to spend their money, what and when to eat, and when or if to go to church.
How they spend their time and who they spend it with is both a privilege and a responsibility most students struggle with to some extent, but none so much as when it comes to church attendance and involvement and their personal relationship with the Lord.
Why? Because for (usually) the first time, these young people aren’t going to church because Dad and Mom say they have to or because it’s what they’ve always done. No, a college student’s decision to attend and become active in the church while in college (and beyond) is a test of faith—a test only they can take.
Dear College Student
You are fortunate in the fact that there are a number of campus ministries scattered across the country. Campus ministries are organized ministries dedicated to the college students in that particular community.
Many of these ministries have designated buildings or meeting areas on campus for weekly praise and worship meetings and fellowship events. Some campus ministries, like the ministry I served with, offer housing with a Christian atmosphere.
If you are fortunate enough to go to a school that has a campus ministry, you would benefit greatly from being involved. Your involvement in a campus ministry:
- Provides Christian peers for you to associate with
- Gives you opportunities to study the Bible and grow in your relationship with the Lord
- Allows you to use your God-given talents and abilities to serve others
- Encourages you to be the salt and light Christians are called to be (Matthew 5:13-16)
- Gives you the experience of having a church family in your home away from home
In addition to the campus ministry I encourage you to get involved in the local church. There are countless ways you can serve and be served. Being involved in the local church is also a great way to build relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ who are both younger and older than you.
These relationships serve to help you grow, hold you accountable, and allow you to be an example for young people who will be leaving home just like you did.
Dear Local Church
If you are located in a community that is home to a college, university, or trade school, you need to be reaching out to these young people in a big way. And don’t think the presence of an organized campus ministry gets you off the hook.
As a church you need to be intentional in inviting students to be part of your congregation. You need to provide opportunities and a place to fellowship. You need to feed these young people home-cooked meals and lots of cookies.
You need to ask them to serve communion, help in the nursery and youth worship, assist at youth group events, play on the worship team, sing in the choir, mow the lawn, paint doors, change lightbulbs, run the sound system, help with video production… you name it, I bet there’s a student who can do it.
The church’s responsibility is to go and make disciples. So go into your community and campuses and play a significant role in making disciples who will graduate in a few years, move on, and take their more spiritually mature selves to another church where they can return the favor by investing themselves in the next ‘batch’ of young people.
What other Christian college students say
What I’ve shared with you is a mere snippet of what I know based on my experiences in the ministry. But don’t just take my word for it. Read what a few of my former students have to say about campus ministry:
Church wasn’t an option for me growing up. It was expected. I didn’t mind, though, I had a strong faith in high school and I wasn’t expecting that to change when I went to college. But it did—only in a good way. Oh sure, there were plenty of opportunities to turn my back on God but thankfully I didn’t and I owe quite a bit of that to CCF and the local church I was involved in the four years I was in school. They were intentional and knew just what the students were looking for and needed. I thank God for campus ministry. ~ Adam
Campus ministry took my faith from being benign to being real and relevant. I was challenged to grow, challenged to serve, and challenged to evangelize just by living life the way Jesus calls us to live. ~ Phillip
I wasn’t a Christian when I arrived on campus as a freshman, but my roommate was and she invited me to a barbeque the Christian Campus Ministry was hosting. Everyone was so friendly and not at all what I expected Christians to be like. They were fun to be around even though there was no alcohol. When my roommate asked me to go to a few other events I didn’t hesitate to say yes. But when she asked me to go to their church service I wasn’t too sure. I ended up going and the rest as they say, is history. Senior year I married a guy I met at CCF. We had our wedding in the church we attended because the people had loved us like family. In fact, five years later we still come back to visit them. ~ Karrie
See… Christianity and college can and do co-exist.
~ By Darla Noble