Graduating Christian

Graduating Christian

How to finish college with your faith intact.
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You can find the "wrong crowd" anywhere. You tend to form relationships quickly in college, especially in your first year. And because the campus is "Christian," you might not think to look for Christian friends. Instead, you might assume that everyone is a Christian. Moreover, a Christian campus is like any other in the sense that students form social clubs, special interest clubs, and honor societies. You might arrive assuming all of these will affirm and encourage Christian commitment. They won't. Students have to be discerning about the company they keep, sometimes especially so on a Christian campus.

New ideas can also be a threat to faith at a Christian college. This is true even—or perhaps especially—if you major in Christian studies. I majored in biblical studies. And even though my professors were godly men who aimed to strengthen us in the faith, their teaching sometimes contradicted what I had learned growing up. Regardless of which major he chooses, a student is bound to encounter teaching that undermines the opinions of his parents or home church, whether they be about political, social, or theological concepts. In short, challenges to the faith at Christian colleges are much less obvious, but no less serious.

Safeguards

Don't lose hope! As I mentioned before, I faced a crossroads in college. Thankfully, my college experience strengthened my faith. It can do that for you. Below are just a few suggestions for ensuring that happens.

First, make devotion a priority. If you're like me, you'll likely stop behaving like a Christian long before you stop believing like one. Whatever you do, don't sever your relationship with the Lord. If you don't currently have an active devotional life, begin to develop one now and maintain that discipline throughout college. Christ is the lifeline and source of faith. You can't expect to maintain your Christian convictions if you don't remain connected to Christ, the true vine.

I was never very good at having a quiet time. When I got to college, I became convinced I didn't need to have one and stopped. Big mistake. Prayer is crucial, as is time spent reading and meditating on Scripture. But these are not the only forms of devotion that are important. It is also crucial to serve, give, and worship. That leads me to the next point.

Join a church. Many of the spiritual disciplines you will need to maintain can be fostered in a healthy local church. If you grew up in a Christian family that attended church regularly, or if you attended church with a friend, you may never have had to choose a church before. So you may not know what to look for. Look for a warm congregation that makes you feel welcome. It's best if you don't go to a church where you can slip in and out without being noticed. It's a good sign if people ask your name, invite you to lunch, take an interest in you. Look for good Christian fellowship. Look for a church committed to orthodox preaching. But don't think so much about what a church can give you; look for a church that can put you to work. As soon as you feel comfortable, get involved by serving. This will help you keep perspective because it will put you in relationship with folks who are not college students. Being part of a church can also help you get connected to the local community—beyond the campus bubble—where you can foster your sense of mission and calling.

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