I’ve been here at university for 3 months now. And I’m starting to understand why a lot of students find their faith hit a stand-still when they come to university.
Being a Christian is easy in high school. You have your parents and friends keeping you accountable. Your pastor has known you for years. You’re involved in your church and your youth group–maybe you even help out with Kid’s Sunday School.
If you’re tired on Sunday morning, too bad! Your parents are right there yelling at you to get your butt moving so you aren’t late for the third week in a row. It doesn’t matter if your hair isn’t brushed and you’ve still got a sock on from the night before, you’re getting in that car and getting to church.
But that all changes when you move out on your own.
Suddenly there’s no one to make you go. And suddenly you feel really tired every Sunday morning. Doesn’t it sometimes feel like the devil just saves up all of our stresses, worries, and laziness just to dump it on us every Sunday? I don’t know why, but it is always 10x harder to get up and go on a Sunday morning than any other.
There are a lot of people I know who have fallen into the habit of not going to church anymore, and when I ask them why, I get excuses like, “Well I’m part of a small group.” or “I read my Bible every day, and I just don’t have time to go to Church too.”
See, I think that we’ve changed church from being a privilege to just something to check off. “Have I spent time with God this week? Yes? Sweet! Don’t have to go to church.”
But that’s a pretty warped view of what church is really about. So here are the five reasons I think it’s important to go to church, and the five things I remind myself of when I feel like there’s no point.
1. Church is Not Just Another Lecture
I think we often look at church as just another one of our endless lectures, where the prof drones on and on about something we really don’t care about and won’t help us later in our careers. Besides, you can always just do the readings at home and learn the same stuff, right?
But Church is so much more than that. The pastor is trained in theology–he knows what he’s talking about. Also, there are people in the church whose job is to double-check everything he’s saying to make sure you aren’t hearing any false-teachings. When you read your Bible on your own at home, or you discuss an issue in small group, that kind of accountability isn’t always there. What you hear and learn in sermons can be applied to so many areas of your life, and if you read a passage and do not understand it, you can match it up against whatever the pastor has said about it.
2. Church Helps You Gain Perspective
When we spend all our time in small groups with our peers we tend to lose sight of how long and varied life is. The more we just close ourselves off from the outside adult world and retreat into our little cocoon of university/college aged kids, the more we miss out on opportunities to learn from and get to know people at other stages in life.
Some of the best chats I’ve had at churches this year has been with adorable older ladies, or with mothers of young children. Both are at completely different stages in life than I am, and both of those conversations really became a turning point in my faith in different areas. I would not have had that opportunity if I had just stayed with the campus group, and I’m glad I had them.
It’s shockingly easy to believe that life doesn’t exist outside of these next four (or however many) years of your life. Church helps put your school career into perspective.
3. Church Gives You Opportunities for Ministry
As a Christian, ministry is extremely important. Jesus didn’t come to earth to be doted on and ministered to–he came to help people, minister to them and get to know them. And we are to reflect that, as his people.
When we’re not involved in a church, there’s only so much we can do. Paul says in 1st Corinthians chapter 12 that we are the body of Christ, and each of us is created for a different job. Some people work as the eyes, others as the ears, and others as the feet. If we’re on our own, or just with a couple Christian friends, we can’t function to our full potential as a body of Christians. It doesn’t help anyone to just have a hand if they don’t have a brain, spine, arm, etc. But when we join together with a church, we’re able to live out God’s plan for us to work in harmony with each other, and our ministry grows exponentially because we’re able to do so much more! We stop being individual parts and instead join together as one being. That’s an opportunity you can never have unless you become part of a church–God’s body of believers.
Church gives ministry opportunities in almost every field–and the great thing is, they’re generally super easy, too! Help with children’s ministry, help with administering offering plates or communion, volunteer for a worship band–anything! Just get involved, and start helping make God’s church run more smoothly.
4. Church is Relief from School
Let’s be honest for a second: school is your life right now. It’s all you think, sleep, eat, and breathe pretty much. (At least, that’s how it is for me and my friends.)
For me personally, church is my refuge. My safe place, where I can forget for a couple of hours that I have midterms, assignments, and readings until kingdom come. It’s a place where I can just sit and feel God working, and watch what amazing things he is doing in the lives of those around me.
Church is a place where you can come and drop all your baggage off at the cross, and just lift your hands in worship. It’s a place where you aren’t defined by your major, your marks, or how much you studied for that test. It’s a place where you are known and appreciated for just being yourself, and for being who you are in Christ.
We all need a safe place where we can escape from our worries. Church is that place.
5. Church Prepares you For Adult Life
You are in school now to prepare you for a future career. But Church prepares you for your future as a Christian.
Church is set up to be a place of learning and encouragement for adults who are looking to find God and get to know him better. And because of that, honestly, it can be a little dry for students sometimes.
However, you need to understand that one day all the college and careers groups, youth groups, and campus Christian groups are going to be taken away from you. You won’t be able to go to them anymore, or use them to motivate you in your faith. In their place, you will be given church, and it will be all of those things for you.
So start training for that now. Teach your mind how to learn from sermons rather than videos and discussions. Learn how to be an adult in your faith–take responsibility for it. In short, church helps you grow up from being a child in Christ to becoming an adult in your faith.
If you stop going to church now, thinking it will be easier to go back in 5 or 10 years, you’re only fooling yourself.
God is so much more than just something to check off your list. Don’t miss out on a deeper relationship with him because you’re getting by with doing the bare minimum.
I have faith in you–and so does He!
Rebecca Danielle Gregoire