Christian students in the world of college are often faced with a variety of unique challenges as they progress on their educational journey. Yes, college is first and foremost a place in which to receive an education; however, the opportunity it represents also comes with some interesting social and spiritual situations with which Christian students must be able to engage. In other words, it can be an eye-opening, and sometimes shocking, experience.
As you go through your college experience, sitting in lectures, eating at the food court, working out in the student center, and socializing during the weekends, take a moment to consider the following tips to help you keep your faith in college.
Walk With Christ In All That You Do
The most important part of maintaining your faith in college is that you continue your daily walk with Christ. In everything you do, you should somehow involve God, whether you are taking care of the laundry or preparing for a big exam. If you can continue your routine of faith, then you will have the benefits of your faith with you all throughout your college experience. This means praying routinely, attending services, and taking other daily faithful steps on your journey through college.
In my case, I made sure to run with Christ. I went to a small liberal arts college and joined the cross country and track teams. My being a member of the distance squad meant that, unlike my freshman year roommate, I had to wake up early every day, especially in the hotter months, in order to get to morning practice. Some of my favorite memories of college consist of my early morning wakeup ritual; I had a comfortable chair that I had purchased from a thrift store, and each morning as I put on my running shoes and tied the laces, I said a quick prayer of thanks and asked for Christ to bless my day and accompany me on my morning run, whether it was to be a long, steady ten miler or a track workout.
Seek Fellowship With Other Christians
In addition to maintaining your own personal faith routines, you should strive to seek out fellowship with other Christians on campus who can support you. Join a local church or religious group on campus. Attend a Bible study or other fellowship activity. It’s important to surround yourself with a core of friends who can also help you grow in your faith. Together, you can form a core to which you can turn during the inevitable storms.
In fact, this idea of fellowship led me to meet my best friend. Through a mutual acquaintance, we both met each other in a Friday morning fellowship at a local Christian coffee shop. The theme of that semester’s fellowship was to challenge ourselves to find closure to some past troubling aspect of our lives; it was to be something we could not imagine doing without Christ’s help. In my case, I was to contact my ex-boyfriend from high school, whom I had not spoken to in over a year, in order to make things right. In my roommate’s case, she was to write an essay about her father, who had died in a car accident when she was in high school. Through that fellowship program, we met each other, supported each other, and eventually became lifelong friends. I was able to make amends with my ex, and she eventually wrote a short story about her father. Without our fellowship, we each would not have grown to become better and stronger Christians.
Participate In Community Service
While college campuses are great reflections of the diversity of the real world, they can also be a little disconnected from that real world, the world in which your faith will do its work one day. Therefore, in order to also educate yourself about the world beyond college, you should consider engaging in community service. By getting out and helping the community beyond school, you can interact with people beyond simply college students and professors and begin to understand how others experience life. Furthermore, your actions can help others who are in greater need.
I engaged with the local community by volunteering at a soup kitchen for a project in an English class devoted to reading and writing about the marginalized figures of our society. At the soup kitchen, I met a man who called himself Red; he had been homeless for fifteen years. We spent a few days talking about his past, and while I never outright tried to impress my beliefs upon him, since he already considered himself to be a Christian, I do believe that my caring for him and speaking with him helped him. I felt as though Christ was working through me in those conversations, however minutely.
I found each of these activities helpful to keep my faith strong in college. Which ones have worked best for you?