What Will Happen to My Faith When I Go to College?
Q. I'm starting to think about college. I'm excited, but a little concerned about what'll happen with my faith when I leave my youth group and family. What can I do now to make sure my faith stays strong? Should I go to a Christian school?
A. My Dad grew up on a farm. He used to tell me about how cows would graze in the field. They'd keep their heads down eating grass. As they ate, they'd slowly move to new patches of grass without looking around. And so, they'd drift across the pasture. When they finally did look up, they were lost.
This can happen with faith as students (or anyone) gets busy and just sort of drifts. This is why I appreciate your desire to make the proactive decision right now to assure your faith will remain strong and solid.
The believers I've noticed staying close to God through college all do three things: 1) read the Bible and pray daily; 2) worship God weekly at a local church; 3) make accountability with other Christians a weekly reality.
If you build these three spiritual disciplines into your daily life right now, you will be ahead of the game. The secret to college faith is all about being intentional and building habits. Make sure you have a friend—now and in college—who helps you stick to your promise of doing all three disciplines. This will be important whether you're at a Christian or secular school.
So which should you choose? That's a matter of listening to God and his will. If you choose a secular school, get involved in campus Christian fellowship groups right away. A friend of mine says the best decision she made about college was getting involved in Campus Crusade for Christ and InterVarsity at her secular school. Those Christ-centered groups kept her grounded in her faith.
On the other hand, I did my undergraduate work at a Christian college. I was a young believer who needed the grounding of a Christ-honoring school. The experience was a life-changing experience for my faith and life.
My suggestion is to visit the schools you are interested in. Attend the chapels at the Christian schools and look into and meet with the Christian clubs on campus at a secular school. No matter what you choose, remember to commit to the three basics now. That way, you won't easily drift away from your beliefs.
Jim is an author, longtime youth worker and founder of HomeWord, a group seeking to honor God through strong families.
Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today/Ignite Your Faith magazine.
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