Mar 24, 2016 | Corey Porter
My faith was in danger; I wasn’t prepared
It was the most subtle yet lethal threat to my faith: university. Statistics confirm my vulnerability with a sobering reality.
Along with the majority of Christian students, my faith journey during the transition from high school to university was tumultuous. I could have easily been a statistic. Sadly, many Christian students entering university will abandon their faith after their first few years.
I wasn’t prepared spiritually for university. I didn’t have a sufficient support structure in my new community. I had put most of my preparation into admissions and classes. I put little thought and energy into seeking out a spiritual support network on campus.
I left my spiritual support base behind
Family, church, friends, and mentors had supported and encouraged my faith prior to university. I left these supportive relationships behind and went off to university.
I underestimated university’s challenge to my faith
I distinctly remember sitting in my first year Biology class. My prof held up Darwin’s Origin of Species and said, “This is the greatest and most influential book of all time!” I was surprised and shocked at his audacious claim. I had never heard such a strong and outspoken assertion. My faith in God felt threatened.
I discovered my faith was untested
In that moment it became apparent that my faith, set amongst the halls of higher learning, was untested and weak. I was intimidated by my professor’s position and authority. I felt the pressure to conform. My peers seemed compliant and accepted his assertion without question. I knew he was wrong, but I didn’t have the courage to speak up nor did I know how to counter his argument.
In all of these ways, I naively failed to consider my need for an even stronger support base for my new campus environment. No wonder I floundered and stagnated in my faith before Power to Change found me.
I don’t want you to make the same mistake I did. I didn’t realize that it was my responsibility to pray and seek out a faith community that would help my walk with Jesus survive university.
As I reflect back to my first year of post-secondary education, there are four practical things I wish I would have done. If you will allow me, let me speak some wisdom in your life.
Four to-do’s to prioritize in your first year:
1. Intentionally seek out Christians on campus
None of my classmates shared my faith nor prioritized it. I failed to see my need for a close group of like-minded, faith-conscious friends to encourage my growth in faith. I didn’t know there were students who were active and growing in their faith. I assumed I had to journey alone.
If I could do it all over again I would:
- Seek out Christians on campus and taken initiative to connect with them.
- Meet the leadership and ask them: “How can you help my walk with Jesus thrive in university?”
- Check out the Christian groups on campus by visiting a large group meeting, a prayer meeting, a social event or a Bible study. These experiences will give you a better feel for what kind of community and opportunities are available.
- Ask others about living as a Christian at university.
- What is it like to be a Christian on campus?
- How can I prepare?
Start your research today. Find out which Christian groups are on your campus. Reach out. There is no reason to wait until you are buried under the homework of first semester.
2. Be intentional about finding a church that will help you wrestle through doubts the university surfaces
The more the university challenged my faith, the more I needed a local church that grounded and validated my faith. I needed a church where people could help me wrestle through the doubts and insecurities that university surfaced. I needed people who understood the challenges of university and could affirm the intellectual soundness of my faith.
Start your research today. Do you know the qualities of a biblical church? Begin to ask your pastor and trusted Christians in your life if they have a recommendation. Reach out to a few churches you are considering before you arrive on campus. Email the pastor and ask questions.
3. Find godly mentors as soon as possible
In my later years I was blessed to have some senior men in my church mentor a group of my peers. They understood university culture. They taught us how to engage the university with a Biblical perspective. Their walk with Jesus was deep and intact. They had already weathered the same doubts and insecurities I was now facing.Their input was critical to anchoring my faith.
My only regret? I wish I would have had their input sooner. Their council gave me context for my faith in university. However, I have come to realize that these people are more rare and take time to surface.
I only met these men because other mature believers introduced me to them. I wished that I would have asked sooner. “Who do you know that understands university culture? Who can help me think critically about the doubts university surfaces in my thinking?”
Start today with prayer. Ask God to prepare these mentors for you and to connect you together quickly. Start asking those you trust to help you find someone who can encourage and mentor you during your university years.
4. Know that God is already at work
At first I felt like no one thought or cared about faith in Jesus at university. But I soon realized that was not reflective of everyone on campus. There were communities I could learn and grow with.
Had I known the benefit of being in a group of like-minded believers sooner, it would have spared me the anxiety of being alone in my faith. Without spiritual support I was in danger of abandoning my faith, but once I was in day-to-day relationship with other like-minded believers, everything changed. I could walk with Jesus in confidence instead of intimidation.
What about you? Are you bringing your concerns and questions to God? Are you actively putting your trust in him, knowing he can and will provide for your needs at college or university? God is at work; ask him to show you where.
Make it thrive
College and university can be a place of immense growth, fruitfulness, transformation, and joy. A place where your faith thrives rather than just survives. I want that for you. But it isn’t going to happen by accident. It is going to take intentionality, prayer, courage and perseverance.
Are you ready to answer the question:How am I going to prioritize my walk with Jesus to ensure it thrives at university?