For all believers, it is vital to growth and obedience to Christ to be involved in a local body of believers--the church. No matter what stage of life you are in, regular fellowship with believers is not only good, but your soul craves it. College is no exception. Just as you are mapping out what courses you are going to take and the perfect dorm room decor, take the time to research and seek out the local body of believers you will grow alongside of.
Honestly the term “church shopping” makes me uncomfortable. Acts 2:46-47 tells us that the early church lived this way: “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
I have this in chalkboard in my dining room to remind me that part of my identity in Christ is to meet with other believers for the purpose of sharpening each other and remembering the good things God has done for us. The fruit of this are glad/generous hearts and others daily wanting to come into our fellowship as a body of believers. So, to reduce this to what church has the best music for 8 minutes a week in a service or does the pastor wear jeans or slacks...makes me bored...and makes me start praying for self control immediately. Ha
Here is the beautiful thing about the time you are living in now High School grad, you don’t ever have to church shop! The days of going to 5 churches and not committing to loving and serving 1 locally can die in your generation thanks to the interwebs (as Michael Scott calls it).
The summer before college spend time praying with your family and mentor about the local group of believers the Lord would have you join as you head off for college. Download this free printable, set-up a time with your family and mentor and answer these questions. If there are several churches, print several and look at their websites. Don’t fill it all out if you conflict with a major area of belief. Example: They do not believe the Bible is the inspired word of God...on to the next!
Families, enjoy being a part of this process with your teen. Cook her favorite meal and tackle some of these questions together. Take a few days to break from the questions and process, then take her out for a late night treat to answer a few more (cheesecake at 9 pm is always a good idea). These can be some memorable times and part of you commissioning your daughter as she heads out.
Personally, I would even take it a step farther and when you find a fit (teaches truth from the Bible, active disciple-making plan, engages community with the Gospel) email one of the leaders and ask if your family can take them to lunch move in weekend. Y'all all go to church together there then get to know this staff person. This is not micro-managing. Emailing the person you took to lunch weekly to check up on your kid is a bit much. But, you modeling discernment through asking good questions and developing relationships is you actively taking part in helping your student know what things to look for in a healthy church.
My kiddos are teeny, but I’ve had the privilege of helping High School grads I’ve mentored connect with a church. Students who connect with other students and mentors quickly thrive in every way in college much more compared to students who do not. I’m mentoring a group of seniors right now and it is my JOY to sit down with them, process this, and pass it along to their families.
We've created this handy New Church Research Questionnaire to help you process the important questions and start preparing for the fall! Click the button below to download and print. Let us know how it goes! - Amy