I’ve heard the question posed: is it possible to engage with the real world while attending Christian college? After all, you’ll be surrounded with Christians on all sides! You’ll be going to class, eating meals and socializing with other Christians ‘round the clock. How much impact can you really make for Jesus and His Kingdom if you live in that kind of insulated bubble world? Won’t your spiritual muscles become atrophied if you’re not around nonbelievers where you’ll be stretched to defend what you believe? Isn’t it better to get your hands dirty by loving broken people? Jesus, as we know, spent time with tax collectors and prostitutes. Are we really called to so enclose ourselves that we remain far away from the problems and pain of real life? These are honest questions. Whether you’re considering attending Christian college in the future, or are already enrolled, it’s a good topic to think about. Quite honestly, it’s something vitally important to contemplate not just in college, but in regard to how we plan to live all of life.
Bunker vs. Launchpad Mentality. Recently Karl, an elder in our church, posed the question this way: will we embrace a “bunker mentality” or a “launchpad mentality?” In other words, do we believe we are meant to just hunker down, play it safe and preserve our faith (and possibly the faith of our family and close friends) or do we believe we are called to live on mission with the gospel, moving out intentionally with our faith in order to win others to Christ? Christians throughout the decades have debated this and the pendulum has swung, at times, in one direction or the other. Jesus Himself said, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).” Does this simply mean we shine from wherever we are? In these verses we’re told not to hide the light–that it’s meant to be shared with others. So what does that look like in our daily life? While he was on earth, Jesus seemed to at times, go out of his way in order to share the good news with others, including the Samaritan woman—an individual normally avoided and even shunned by Jews. I would argue that Jesus wants us to live our lives as a launchpad for His Kingdom. So how does that work if I’m on a Christian campus where everyone already knows Jesus?
Ideas for Kingdom Advancement Just because you’re on a Christian campus does not mean you’re not still able to actively engage in sharing your faith. However, in this season where most everyone you know is a believer, it will likely take more focused intentionality. Think about joining an organization whose goal is to serve the community, or volunteer time at a local food bank or outreach. I recently heard of college students who are teaching a good news club in a local elementary school. Each week they encounter students who’ve never heard about Jesus. Christian campuses are known for clubs and programs that raise awareness and money for global causes such as trafficking or orphan care. Pick something you’re passionate about and get involved! If no club exists, get one started! Or, consider going on a student led mission trip over spring or summer break. If you still feel you’re not rubbing shoulders with unbelievers, get a job off campus or join a local gym or intramural team in order to deliberately seek out authentic relationship for the sake of sharing Christ’s love. Do what you can to keep up with non-Christian friendships you’ve already established back home.
Training Ground Remember: not everyone who claims Christ gets it. There may be those around you, even on a Christian campus, who claim to be believers but really don’t know Jesus personally. Don’t underestimate the difference your example can make and let your light shine even here in the way you live out Jesus’ commands and show His love. Finally, realize that the launch into “real life” is coming faster than you realize and it often hits hard. I’ve talked to many young adults on the other side of Christian college who dearly miss living life in such close proximity to so many believers. You’ll miss it someday, too. Consider this as training ground for whatever comes next and soak it up for what it is, embracing the incredible opportunity for spiritual growth and discipleship. No other time of your life will afford you the same chance for godly mentorship and training in a biblical worldview. Recognize that the friends you make at Christian college oftentimes turn out to be friends for life who will support you for years to come. Invest deeply in the relationships around you, and enjoy this short season for the beautiful, unique gift that it is!