Jesus told His disciples that He would “build His church.” Paul told Timothy that the Church is the “pillar and ground of the truth.” The New Testament church is God’s program for this age. Most Christian college students know this, but still they struggle with where they fit in. Most find themselves in an awkward situation. They are not children any longer, but many adults don’t see them as full-fledged adults. Many still have their church membership at their home church and struggle with understanding what level of involvement they can have in a local church while in college. The dilemma can be paralyzing! What to do?
Step 1: Get to know your church
Find a church in your college town where you can connect. Take some time to get to know the people that make up the body. Don’t just look for a church where you can serve; look for a church family that you can connect with.
Relationships are key to joyful service. It is through building community with the people that we serve and the people that we serve with that allows that service to lead to growth. It is the family connection that will keep you from just arbitrarily doing your duty but will replace it with joyful service.
Your initial steps should be to find ways to get beneath the surface of your church. Move from larger gatherings to smaller ones. Build personal relationships with people in the congregation. Make sure to attend fellowship gatherings and activities. The body life of a church is more about what happens outside of the times of corporate worship. Get to know people and purpose that you are going to be a part of the body rather than just one who attends the services.
See Also: Tips for Choosing a Church
Step 2: Get to know yourself
What are your talents? What do you like to do? Can you sing or play an instrument? Do you love to meet new people? Do you enjoy working with children? Is teaching your favorite thing? Do you have a vehicle that you could use to give people a ride? Do you love to make brownies or cookies? Identify the things that you love to do and ask yourself, “How could I use this to serve people at church?”
God didn’t design a church to be a “spectator sport.” It is a body where every member is essential for good health. Your church will expand its sphere of influence as you add your sphere of influence to it. Your church will be able to reach its community in ways that your gifts and abilities allow as you add those talents to the church’s talent pool. God has gifted every believer with abilities that He intends for us to use for His service through His church. Our greatest acts of worship are when we humbly serve the Lord by being good stewards of our talents by using them to do His work by serving others for His glory.
Step 3: Get to know the needs
Look for opportunities to help out where it seems help is needed. Does your church need to be cleaned? Are there rooms that need to be set up or taken down? Do they need children’s workers or youth staff members? Does your church have enough ushers? Maybe the church has never had greeters at the doors before. Could they use a few more choir members? Maybe there isn’t any instrumental accompaniment for the church services and you could help. Entering church with an eye for what is needed and a heart to serve will quickly lead to finding a way to get involved.
Step 4: Get to know the leadership
As you get to know a church, go out of your way to get to know the pastoral leadership. It is easy to allow yourself to think thoughts like, “He is much too busy to talk to me.” Well, nothing could be further from the truth.
The pastor of your church is called to “equip the saints to do the work of the ministry and build up the body of Christ.” He wants to get to know you, and he wants you to get to know the church. Most pastors are eager to talk about the work that God has called them to and to share their vision for what God is doing. As you get to know your pastor and catch his passion for the church, you will begin to see where your abilities could be used as a part of accomplishing the overall mission of the church.
Step 5: Get to know others
When you settle into a church where you feel a sense of belonging, invite others to join. Most of the other college students that surround you every day face the same struggle with church as you do. Would it have been impactful for you if someone who knew their church invited you to come and help you to fit in? The same may be true of the people that share your residence hall room or go to your society. Build relationships that allow you to build the church. I think that you will find that your greatest friendships are formed with the people that you go to church with, not just the people that you go to college with. There is great joy in forming a friendship where you go and serve together at church.
See Also: BJU Refreshed Church Attendance Policies
BJU has compiled a list of Greenville area churches that our students attend to help you get started in your search for a church home away from home.