Dear College Freshman,
In these first few weeks of freedom, you will have a seemingly endless amount of choices to make. Some will be small, like which dining hall to go to for dinner, or whether or not to loft your bed (the extra space will be worth it I promise!). On the other hand, some of these decisions matter greatly. Who you choose to spend your time with matters, the time you choose to study matters, and the activities or clubs you invest yourself in matter. If you are a Christian like myself, you might be excited by the prospect of joining a campus ministry. I knew from the moment that I stepped foot on campus that I wanted to be involved in Young Life. Campus ministries are wonderful. They offer a kind of Christian community that you may have never experienced before, and they provide a safe space for you to take ownership of your faith as you experience more and more independence. The friends I made in Young Life are truly some of the most encouraging and inspiring Christian women I know, and they will be friends of mine for life. I can’t say enough good things about the value of campus ministries, and while choosing which one is right for you matters, there is another decision you will make that is sometimes mentioned far less.
Wherever you are in school, you now have the chance to visit churches, and choose the one you will attend. Beyond that, you will have to decide to what extent you will be active in that church. In my first two years of college, I treated Young Life like it was my church. On Sunday mornings I attended Northstar Church, but that was about all I could say of my involvement there. Though our college minister knew my name and had reached out about grabbing coffee, I isolated myself by accepting my position as a Sunday morning seat filler. While Young Life had much to offer me, there was still so much I was missing out on by remaining distant from the church.
In my junior year, I slowly and surely became more and more involved at Northstar. That spring I joined the worship team and a college bible study. By my senior year, I was being discipled by our college minister, and eventually was hired as an intern. Through serving at Northstar, I was able to build relationships across generations, and with people that I wouldn’t typically come across. My church family quickly became like real family, and a home away from home.
To this day, church members who have experienced more life than I are quick to care for me, to allow me to come as I am, and to grow in my love for Jesus. Even more than that though, they equip me to pour into those younger than me. In 2 Timothy, Paul writes to his younger apprentice, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). So then, what is the value of truly investing in a local church? Why does this decision matter? Because in the church you will be loved by those older and wiser, who have stood where you now stand, who will do all they can to care for you. In the church your spiritual growth will be a priority, and you will be valued as a name and a face and a heart rather than a student ID number. In the church, you will be equipped to love those younger than you, and to care for them in the way you have also been cared for. The church is a place of cyclical love, that prepares you to go and share a love for Jesus.
A Northstar Church Member