I wanted to capture the mind of college students as they come home from school and attempt to reenter our churches. The following was written by a young lady from our church. Enjoy!
I’m just about your average college junior. I have been bent and broken through all nighters, research papers, calculating my graduation date with hefty student loans in mind, working part-time, taking a full course load, and never-ending to-do lists, and I have also found so much joy in these recent years of being in college, and throughout it all I am daily striving to rely solely on my identity in Christ, and nothing else.
For college students summertime means quite a lot of different things: tanning, baseball games, summer school, working, losing weight, camping, reading a book by choice, and catching up on Pretty Little Liars, beach bonfires, and maybe a concert or two. For me, all of those boil down to one thing: TIME. Whether you’re enrolled in community college, a university away from home, or even a semester overseas—there never seems to be enough time to genuinely study for your classes, work off the extra “college 15” pounds, actually read all of your text books, watch all six seasons of Lost on Netflix, or get enough sleep in order to halfway function during your 8:00 am lecture. However, with our undeniable young adult super-powers, all of the things that seriously need to be checked off our to-do list somehow end up getting taken care of between all of the chaos.
With all of that being said, I can personally say that my walk with the Lord gets pushed towards the bottom of the check list—and more often than not I fail to actually check it off the list. What I’m trying to say is that being a college student is demanding, and that makes it so easy for us to compartmentalize everything in our life into some order of importance. Regardless of where we are in our walk with the Lord; I can vouch for myself, friends, peers, and possibly even strangers that summertime seems like an open window to start reading our Bible more and working on our relationship with God. Coming home for summer and being involved in our home church for two to three months seems like preparing for another semester of hibernation. In that, whatever we gain from the college group BBQ’s or worship nights are being stored into this department that we will take with us once the semester gets rolling again.
Personally, what I look to gain from my church during this summer is support in my walk with the Lord, meaning opportunities to learn, share, and grow within our college group by discussing lasting issues relating to what it looks like know the grace, love, sovereignty, and provision of God in our lives as young adults and how to use all of that for the glory of our Savior. Because no matter where we find ourselves during the following fall semester, whether it’s at a Christian university, working part-time, at a secular public university, or maybe even traveling the world—I think it is so beyond necessary for all of us to understand the character of the God who knows the depths of our hearts and calls us each by name so that we may take that knowledge and fit it into our chaotic schedules of our college hibernation. Also, in addition to a multitude of BBQ’s, softball games, camping trips, worship nights, movie nights, and maybe even a few frozen yogurt meet ups—I would really like to see our churches encourage the young adults that they do not need to clear their schedule in order to draw closer to Jesus Christ. I want to learn and be reminded that centering my spontaneous, busy, and procrastinated college schedule around my time with God will bring me peace and allow everything to flow in a manner that is glorifying my walk with God for His purpose in my life—and I believe that my fellow peers would agree with this and benefit in a similar way. Overall, I pray that our churches see us the way Jesus does, but more importantly show us how He sees us in our broken, growing, healing, upsetting, waiting, loving, peaceful, and happy times so that we may be encouraged in our times away from home, wherever that may be, and that we will continue to walk strongly in the way God is leading us.
As for what a college student could possibly want for the church, I would have to say that universally we enjoy seeing the church striving to remain contemporary. I strongly believe that the church can teach the young adults about the traditional importance of the church, and how the unity and service throughout our home church is directly related to our personal relationships with our Savior. However, to put it lightly—it wouldn’t hurt to see more Hillsong United, Chris Tomlin, or other Christian contemporary worship music on a Sunday service, and on the other side young adults can be all about the good ole’ hymns when they are done in a nice sing-a-long piano version. I think striving to be both contemporary and traditional within the churches approach to worship is very key with all ages of youth because that is typically what we are drawn to on a Sunday morning. Another thing I want for the church is more and more opportunities for the youth to serve and be involved, not only for our benefit but so that the church is able to grow with whatever the young adults are able to bring to the table. In my home church, I already see a lot of areas for college students to serve during the summer, or even the school year, and I am thankful for that because it contributes to the many different working parts in the body of our church.
Overall I hope for the church that they are able to love the young adults in the exact place they are in, because honestly there are going to be twenty-somethings dragged to church on a Sunday morning after being out late Saturday night, where their nights are consumed by everything concerning alcohol and drugs and anything but Jesus. Those young adults need an environment where Christ’s love is evident and present because meanwhile they are simply roaming around finding themselves in their hangovers. On the other hand, you also have the young adults who are strong in their walk with the Lord and they need to be led and encouraged so that they may be a good and true light to the areas they are able to reach and other people in the church might not be able to. I also hope for my fellow collegians that we are able to not only understand and apply God’s grace and love to our lives but that we are also able to learn what is right and true in the way of God so that our lives glorify Him more than the times we are at a college BBQ’s or Sunday service. I’m not exactly sure what all of this might realistically look like, but I pray that church is able to reach every member or guest in the way that Christ intends for them to be reached that Sunday morning or any other day of the week—whether they are a 65-year-old prime timer, 2 month old newborn baby, 15-year-old teenager, or the 21-year-old young adult.