The semester is in full swing. The "courtship" period for students is coming to a close. Students are choosing or have already chosen where they will invest their time. Church should be one of those places, but many students continue to "date" the church throughout their college years.
When asked why they haven't plugged into the church, here are a few common answers students often give:
- I just can't seem to find a church like my home church.
- I haven't found a place where I fit in yet.
- I don't like the worship style of the churches I've visited or the ___________.
- I've just been so busy that I haven't had time to really get to know the church.
Most of the reasons that students give for not connecting with a church point to a consumer mindset about the church. Help students understand that there are no perfect churches, no two look exactly alike, and they have something to contribute to the church to make it more of what it should be. Fitting into a church takes time and intentionality, even in the friendliest of churches. And students will always be busy, everyone is.
Students need to see the importance of connecting to a church, even during these busy college days. Not just to consume the programs and ministries we offer, but to be contributors to the body of Christ, the church. In an article for Outreach magazine, Ed Stetzer says," we have often thought of membership like belonging to a select club, or like the old American Express commercial where “membership has its privileges."
That is not the way the Bible refers to membership. In fact, in 1 Corinthians Paul doesn’t say the church is like a body. He says the church is a body. The phrase he uses to describe individual connectedness is we are “members of the body.” These years are crucial for young adults to understand the mission and purpose of the church so that they will have a lifelong love for the body of Christ.
As church college leaders, we need to challenge students to commit to a church. Whether by joining as a full-fledged member or a church watchcare program, students need to make a commitment to the local body of Christ. Encourage them to do so. If they continue to hold onto their church back home, they will never fully connect where they are now. Help them to understand the reason for making such a commitment by giving them opportunities to serve and lead.
The Connect Day Idea
In an effort to help students connect to a local church, churches and Baptist collegiate ministries across the nation are being encouraged to set apart a day to encourage students to connect to a local church. The national day has been designated as11.15.15, but your local churches and Baptist Student Ministries may want to choose a different day. The idea is to encourage students who haven't yet connected to a church to do so. There are some great resources on the Connect Day website. Find them here at www.whychurch.net.