How can you keep pursuing Jesus in college?
This summer I will be graduating from George Mason University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing. As I reflect on the past four years, I realize that as I entered college I was not sure what to expect, not prepared for how much harder college is than high school, and not sure how to pursue a relationship with Jesus while in college.
Life after high school is full of uncertainty and questions. What college do I go to? How am I going to pay for college? Do I even want to go to college? What am I going to eat? What should I major in? How am I going to make friends? Most importantly… how am I going to follow Jesus?
I can tell you from experience that college is full of opportunity, freedom, coffee, cramming for exams, ramen noodles, late nights, friends, temptations, people with different worldviews and backgrounds, and sadly hostility towards Christianity.
As you enter this next season of life, my encouragement to you is to pursue a relationship with Jesus by prioritizing a campus ministry, local church, and daily time alone with God. I hope you don’t see this as a to-do list but advice from someone who imperfectly pursued Jesus in college. I don’t say these things to overwhelm you, I say these things for your joy. I promise you that the most possible joy you can have in college is found in knowing Jesus and making Him known (Psalm 37:4, Matthew 6:33).
1. Prioritize a campus ministry.
Jonathan Pokluda says “if you want to change your life, change your playmates and your playground.” Life is all about where you go and who you go there with. Community is essential in college. A campus ministry is an excellent place to pursue friendships with people who will help you grow in your faith. While I was at George Mason, I was involved with a campus ministry called CRU. Their goal is to be a multiethnic community captivated by the Gospel, transformed by the Gospel and committed to taking the Gospel to GMU and the world. Through CRU at George Mason, I grew so much by being discipled by the staff, being a part of a small group, and being encouraged to serve. Life isn’t meant to be done alone, pursue Godly community.
2. Prioritize a local church.
Many college students go to church with their friends. While this isn’t a bad thing, I want to caution you that your friends may: 1) not go every week, 2) go to a different church every week, or 3) go to a bad church. Prioritize a local church that is word-centered and Christ-exalting.
Some evaluative questions: Is the Gospel preached? Is the worship music Christ-centered? Do they preach the Bible? Are there opportunities to serve? An excellent resource to use as you look for a good church is Mark Dever’s Nine Marks of a Healthy Church.
Why should you prioritize a local church? The Bible says to: Hebrews 10:24-25. Another three reasons to prioritize a local church are to weekly hear the Bible preached, have opportunities to be discipled, and opportunities to serve others.
3. Prioritize time alone with God.
We live in a culture that is driven by instant gratification. Slowing down and spending time with God isn’t always fun, easy, or enjoyable. But John Elmore puts it this way, “something doesn’t have to be amazing in order to be sustaining.” Nothing has helped me grow in my relationship with Jesus more than simply spending time with Him every day. By speaking to Him in prayer and hearing from Him through His word.
Dustin Benge said, “five minutes of prayer is worth more than an hour of scrolling through social media.” It is not that we don’t have the time to spend time alone with God, it’s that we don’t prioritize it. Sometimes we just need to cry out to God, confess that we haven’t prioritized spending time with Him, and ask that He would help us prioritize that. If you want to grow in your relationship with Jesus during college, prioritize spending time with Him daily.
In summary, my hope is that you seek to know Jesus and make Him known while at college. I encourage you to pursue Jesus by prioritizing a campus ministry, a local church, and daily time alone with God.