Part 1: Welcome to College! Now Find a Church
Part 2: You Need Christian Fellowship in College
Part 3: Four Marks of a Faithful Campus Ministry
Part 4: Campus Ministries and the Priority of the Local Church
Part 5: College and Christian Fellowship: Now What?
You may not realize it right now (although I hope you realize it by the time you finish this series of posts) but the most important facet of your college experience is not the day and time of your classes, what intramural sports you might participate in, who your roommate is, or even your major. Yes, these are important issues to which you must give your attention, but they are subordinate to an even greater concern. What is that concern? Where you will find faithful, live-giving, faith-sustaining, Christ-centered fellowship. This Christian fellowship is vital during your college experience because your enemy, Satan, has a time-tested, two-pronged strategy to spiritually sideline Christian college students. First, he undermines your convictions; meanwhile, he tempts you with sin.
Christian Fellowship for the Sake of Your Convictions
Why do I say that Christian fellowship is the most important concern of your college career? Because whether or not you prioritize faith-sustaining fellowship with other Christians while at college will determine, in large measure, the course of your Christian life in college and after you graduate. If you are not currently attending a Christian college where the classes and campus life are infused with a biblical worldview, then it is likely that you will often encounter teachers and class material that directly attacks or indirectly undermines Christianity and the teaching of the Bible. In order to weather such opposition with courage to stand for Christ, conviction to hold to the truth, and compassion toward your fellow classmates and professors, you need the soul-preserving grace of Christian fellowship.
Perhaps you haven’t given much thought to these challenges. If so, please hear these exhortations as the heart-felt plea of one who has seen too many unsuspecting Christian young men and women ambushed and unable to recover from the attacks on their faith they experience in and out of the classroom. Don’t be naïve: If your enemy can get you to doubt the truth of Christ and his Word, he has done much to take you out of the Christian race.
But maybe you believe you are ready to face spiritual opposition and you are exited about the prospect of sharing the gospel with students and arguing for the truthfulness of Christianity with your professors. You know it will be hard but you’ve read books on Christian apologetics and theology, and you are prepared to engage teachers and friends with the truth of the gospel. I commend your approach and your desire to reach out to unbelievers. But you will be quickly carried off course if you do not anchor yourself to rock-solid Christian fellowship while you are at college.
Christian Fellowship for the Sake of Your Sanctification
You also need Christian fellowship because you will face new temptations. For many, college is a time of unprecedented freedom. Prior to college, you lived at home under your parents’ constant supervision and care. During high school you would daily check in with your parents, let them know when you were home or where you were going, and you had to abide by the house rules established by your parents. Now, for the first time, you live away from your parents—probably in a dorm or apartment with roommates—and you can come and go as you please. Yes, you may call your parents and let them know how things are going, but there is a significant difference in the structure of your daily life: you are no longer under the constant oversight of your parents.
There is nothing necessarily wrong with this arrangement, but with new freedoms come new temptations, and you will find yourself quickly drawn into compromises you never thought possible if you don’t latch yourself to other faithful Christians soon after you step on campus. Your enemy is always prowling around, looking for college students to devour (see 1 Peter 5:7), and he will use your new-found freedom to tempt you with sexual sin, underage drinking and drunkenness, to give up daily Bible reading and prayer, and to neglect regular attendance at a local church. Satan has made it his practice the last several decades to derail unwary Christian college students who failed to make Christian fellowship a priority immediately upon their arrival on campus.
Sadly, there are many stories of young Christians who enter college with a vibrant faith only to walk across the stage at graduation four years later in spiritual shambles. By neglecting Christian fellowship, these Christians made themselves vulnerable to the enemy, and they are now cautionary tales to Christian college students who are just now entering college. It is my prayer that God will use these blog posts to establish you in an excellent Christian fellowship during your time in college so that you might walk faithfully with Jesus all the way to graduation.
Now that we have considered why Christian fellowship is vital to the believing college student, we can discuss the marks of a Christ-honoring campus fellowship. We will consider that topic in the next post.