5 Reasons you need a local church during college

Les Newsom  |  November 20, 2014

It’s doubtful that #GoToChurch will be trending anytime soon, but a case deserves to be made for avoiding the much-reported inertia that draws students away from being involved in a local church while they’re in college. You need to be a part of a local church during your years in school. Why?

1. Because it’s a irreplaceable ingredient to Christian living

If you decide to leave out that whole “sugar part” of your cake recipe, you don’t end up with a cake. Likewise, so much of the admonitions we get in Scripture to Christian growth are pitched in plural, not singular, form. Just check the pronouns throughout the book of Ephesians and you’ll understand what I mean. 

When the Bible says “you,” so often it’s not talking about “you, an individual” but “you all, the Body of Christ in your area.” Trust me, this changes the direction of most of your religious upbringing, if you had any at all.

2. Because it’s an institution

Yes, you read that right. Much has been made of your generation’s “anti-institution” bias. I’m officially going on record to say, I don’t buy it. First, your devotion to other institutions is patently obvious whether it’s your high school, your academic honor society, or your favorite football team. The problem is not the “institutional nature” of those things. 

Second, just because you only went to church once this semester doesn’t mean you're anti-institutional any more than lying to your mom that you ate three square meals during midterms makes you “anti-food." It just means you’ve neglected something vital to your human flourishing. The church as an institution is a direct source of stability for you in a time when you need it most.

3. Because it’s what adult discipleship looks like

If you’re like the students I’ve spoken to, post-college spirituality is a giant letdown. You dreamed during your school years of doing “big things for God” when you finished. But the latest threats from your tyrannical boss and the ceaseless din of preschool age children you’re trying to raise makes those dreams feel pretty powerfully unfulfilled. Enter some serious late-20’s/early 30’s guilt here. 

Truth is, campus ministry led you poorly when it failed to explain to you that the “mundane” week-in, week-out faithful preaching and teaching of Scripture, the participation in the Sacraments of the church, and the regular involvement with the community of God’s people on Sunday mornings is THE way in which adult discipleship carries itself out. It’s not the exception, it’s the rule.

4. Because of your myopia

Calm down, it’s a fancy word for “nearsightedness.” Your campus minister delights to serve up instruction from God’s Word that is uniquely tailored to your present station in life. However, your train is about to leave that station. To make it through adult life, you need to see how the Gospel works in the life of that single mother on the pew behind you, that youth group punk who sounds just like you did in high school, and that elderly man who can barely muster a smile. 

Avoid being the college student who can’t see beyond the grassy quad of your time at the university by plugging into your local church.

5. Because they love you there

Any local university church delights in having college students in their services. You represent the future of the church so it makes them feel like their labors are not in vain and that the next generation is not as bad as they think. Beyond that, lots of these churches will go out of their way to provide you with the kind of life-coaching college students desperately need: financial advice, family exposure, counseling needs, grief support, etc. 

Having a local church behind you while you’re in school is like solid ground underneath your feet. Ask you campus minister about a good local church after Bible study this week!