Back to School
How to Stay Strong for Christ at a Secular College
Written by Phylicia Masonheimer | May 20, 2017
With many of you graduating and heading off to school in a few months you might be wondering about your Christian walk at your new destination. No matter where you attend college, discipleship won’t happen by accident. But if you attend a secular university, staying strong for Christ can be an uphill battle. You might be in a coed dorm. You might get asked out by unsaved guys. You’ll be invited to parties. You’ll probably be told by a classmate or professor that your belief system is flawed. How do you stay close to Christ when everything around you is against Him?
Find Discipleship and Accountability
As a college counselor, I’ve told many families that discipleship doesn’t happen by accident—even at Christian universities. Just because students hear about Jesus all day doesn’t mean their walk with God is thriving. At a secular university, the same thing applies. You need to seek discipleship and accountability, or it won’t happen!
Where do you find it? First, find a local church and get involved. It probably will be uncomfortable and awkward at times, but try different churches until you find one where you can really connect. These people will be your family, walking with you as you go through the next four years. Second, plug into a Bible study or small group on campus of like-minded (and, if possible, close to your age) believers. If you can’t find one on campus, look for one in your church or community. If the conversation isn’t deepening, learn how to take it there yourself.
Make a Point of Serving Others
An active faith is a thriving faith. Find a way to work service into your schedule, whether in the church or in the community—or both! If you can’t find anything, start something! You can head up a mission to your city’s downtown area with your church’s small group. Raise funds for a local pregnancy center or support a foster family. There are many ways to serve others, even with a busy schedule.
Stay in the Word
Don’t be deceived: Being in the Word will NOT be easier when you graduate. It will not be easier once you’re working full time, when you’re married or once you have kids. Life just gets busier as time goes on, so making a habit of Bible study right now—in the middle of your busy student season—will teach you the habits you need to stay close to Jesus as your seasons change.
You don’t have to do devotions at the same time each day. Maybe one day you get up half an hour early; the next, you stay up late. Whatever works for your schedule (even lunch breaks!), do what you need to stay close to Christ.
Be Prepared to Give a Defense
Finally, be ready to explain your faith to others. This is why it’s so important to study God’s Word! This might mean you do some extracurricular study—watching videos answering tough cultural questions, or reading up on how certain Bible passages are interpreted. It’s important to defend what we believe in. Don’t just know what you believe; know why you believe it.
Finding a support group of like-minded believers takes intention, and you might feel very alone at times. But a secular university can be an amazing place to grow in the Lord. Very few places will challenge you, push you and test you like college will. But you can stand strong against the environment you’re in, setting an example of faith in a faithless culture. And you can start today.