And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
I’ve talked before about High School Faith vs. College Faith, How to Be a Christian in a Non-Christian World on Campus, as well as How to Make Meaningful Friendships on the First Day of School. This time I’m focusing on keeping God a priority when you’ve chosen to attend a college many miles away from home. In the midst of packing boxes and huge life changes this can seem impossible, but that’s why your PI community is here to help.
You may be saying, “I’ll figure this out once I get settled in,” but I promise it’s better to have a game plan to stay connected to Christ before you dive into your classes. Studies show that up to 65 to 80 percent of people who grow up in the church drop out of church when they become college age. I moved from Hawaii to California when I was 23, so I understand the toll a huge move can take when you’re so used to a home church and Bible studies with familiar faces once a week. Going from that to knowing hardly anyone was one of the hardest parts of my walk with God and left me feeling more than a little lost. Here are five things that helped me to transition while keeping God first.
1. Do some location scouting ahead of time. Before I moved to Los Angeles, I was already looking up churches and doing research on their websites about their core beliefs as well as the community they promote on their campuses. As a young adult, you may gravitate toward a church family that hosts small groups or has outings once in a while so that finding friends is a lot easier. It may be important to you that they offer multiple service times so that you can have a little more flexibility during your weekends. Either way, it’s okay to visit a few churches and get a feel for which one is best once you’re in town. Narrowing things down beforehand can make it less daunting than figuring it out once you have assignments due and tests you need to study for.
2. Remember that your world may change, but the Word never changes. I found so much comfort in my prayer time when my day-to-day life was so uncertain. Having a rhythm in my spiritual life kept things in perspective because I knew God had a plan for me even though I was still figuring out my next steps in my education, church life and social activities. If you don’t already have a routine, try finding one now. There are so many apps you can use where you can listen to praise and worship music and read devotionals that pertain to your current hopes or struggles. You can even set reminders within those apps so that you don’t forget about your daily Bible reading and quiet time with The Lord.
It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. (Isaiah 5:11)
3. Stay rooted. Even if you move away, stay connected to the people who keep you grounded. This may be your parents, a favorite aunt or close friends who understand the importance of your faith. Most friends who promise to keep in touch won’t, so this is why being intentional is important. Without even meaning to, we can slowly drift away into a new world we’ve created and stop checking in back home. Great relationships don’t just happen; you need to cultivate them. You can keep praying with friends and family who are willing, and even have a group text where you keep in touch and hold each other accountable by posting scriptures, inspiring quotes or links to an awesome sermon.
4. Do what you love to do. Have you heard the common saying “An idle mind is the devil’s playground”? You may begin to feel a little lost missing your friends and the familiarity, but this transition period is only temporary. You can help it go by faster if you join a club on campus or at church that includes things that you’re interested in. Having a passion to home in on keeps your mind on the right things and helps with your social life as well. Before setting foot on campus, you can look up a list of clubs or an online bulletin board to see what kinds of interest groups they have. You may not be the only one who loves to belt out Lauryn Hill songs at the top of your lungs at a karaoke spot after all.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)
5. You’re never too old to have a curfew. I remember asking my mom even in my late teens if I could stay out past a certain time because my friends wanted to see a late movie or just hang out later into the night. I was still living at home, so I wanted to respect her boundaries. She often told me, “You’re an adult and you can do what you want, but think about what’s appropriate and why those activities need to happen so late.” After moving out on my own, I still kept those things in mind. I carefully considered what environments I was entering into and if it was helpful for my walk with God. It may be tempting to take advantage of your newfound freedom and do whatever you want, whenever you want. However, think ahead to where your decisions may lead you. Staying out late at a party or with a guy you like could potentially lead to something you may regret. Your future is the most important thing at this point, so do the things that are going help you succeed instead of giving in to fleeting moments that feel satisfying at the time.
These are a few examples of things I found helpful, but leave comments below if you can think of anything to add to the list. Also, a great resource that helps college students to find community is College Church Connection. Check them out if you’re still figuring out your college move and don’t know where to begin. In addition, Project Inspired now has a Facebook group where you can chat with other girls who may be going through similar seasons.
We’d love to hear from you! What are you most looking forward to this school year?