Setting the Bar
In high school, I read a book that changed my outlook on life. Alex and Brett Harris’ Do Hard Things was not just a book that helped motivate me, but it changed my goals in life. Even when the culture expects teenagers to sit at home and play video games after school and not care about much else, the book challenged teenagers not to waste their adolescent years but instead to be who God has called them to be.
The book told stories of people who had started non-profits to build wells in Africa, or who started Christian conferences in their communities at just 14 and 15 years old. The stories captivated me. I wanted to do that in my life. I wanted to break the mold.
Seven years later, as a senior in college, I tried to look these people up again. Surely, as my peers grew older they accomplished more. Sadly, I found nothing. It seemed that by the time they were done with college they had stopped doing the hard things that they started during their adolescent years.
Unfortunately, this is the story of so many. If they did hard things in high school the fire was extinguished by college. If they did nothing during high school, they continued that trend in college. Delaying their adult life until they graduate. Days filled with friends, parties, fun, and school (sometimes) but nothing meaningful.
The truth is, the college years are some of the most formative years in a person’s life. It is important not waste these years, but to focus on growing and maturing, especially for Christians.
While many young adults return to church after a few years, 70% of young adults drop out of the church for at least a year, typically during their college career. This number is extremely high, partly because of a lack of importance placed on church during these years. While this number is high, students do not have to be a part of that statistic. Connecting to a church during college is one of the most important steps to fueling Christian growth and maturity. Here are three reasons a college student needs the church during their college career.
Connecting to a church during college is one of the most important steps to fueling Christian growth and maturity.
FREEDOM! That’s how to best describe my freshman year of college. Go to class, play video games, eat dinner, play video games, talk to girls, play video games, go to Waffle House until 2 in the morning, come back to the dorm, go to sleep, wake up and do it over again.
My first year was an exciting year of friends, fun, and… Well, I wish I could say growth and maturity, but the truth is freshman year of college there wasn’t much of that. I managed to make decent grades, but I really wasn’t taking school seriously, and I made some terrible decisions that wasted my time and money. Oh, what I would give now to have been a part of a church family with believers who told me to get my act together and not waste my college years (or freshman year) on things that would not last.
The college years contain 4 of the most fun years a person will have in their life. It is a new-found sense of freedom and responsibility. Many students face peer pressure for the first time in their life during college. The church should surround them and teach them how to guard their lives from the things of the world and focus on things that matter.
I graduated from a small high school with 34 other students in my graduating class. My freshman year of college, two short months after saying goodbye to my best friends from high school I only talked to four on a regular basis. Now, six years removed from high school I talk to two of them on a semi-regular basis. Likewise, I could tell you the friend groups that I hung out with the four years of my college career. They changed every year, only one person stayed consistent through those four years, my best friend and roommate. The same best friend and roommate that I just so happened to attend church with my entire life until recently.
The point is, the transition from high school to college and beyond is a treacherous whirlwind of people coming in and out of your life. As we are introduced to new people, we are introduced to new beliefs and ideologies. It is important that a college student stay connected to a church to keep them grounded, and if everyone is invested into the church then there will not be a revolving door of friends and believers going in and out of their life.
As a Christian Studies major, I was taught things about the Christian faith that I had never thought of before, and it also raised many questions that I had never asked before. Thankfully, I was at a Christian liberal arts university with faculty and staff who had a strong biblical worldview.
That is not; however, the case for the majority of college students around the nation. Students are immersed in different worldviews that they have never faced before. As a Christian on a secular campus, there is no doubt of being in the minority. College students are challenged every day to think differently than how they were raised. This can easily raise several questions. It is important for a college student to go back to their church to flesh out these questions in a place where they can trust that the answer is biblical.