Stay the Course: How to Keep Your Faith in College

A Bible professor’s advice for staying close to Christ on campus.

Higher education has a hard road ahead. Christian colleges, in particular, are in crisis over lower enrollments, the financial constraints that come with fewer students, and larger ideological conflicts that reflect our increasingly fractured society. Data indicates that young people are the demographic most likely to leave organized religion behind.

Arguably now more than ever, college is a coming-of-age time when many young adults figure out who they are and what they believe.

For Christian students, going to college means figuring out how to “keep faith” and deepen it. This retention depends in part on learning how to flourish in mind, heart, body, and soul; how to love God above all things and your neighbor as yourself; and how to do college right, not by avoiding mistakes (which isn’t possible) but by making wise decisions early to avoid the more common and ruinous obstacles.

Drawing on my experience as a theology professor at a Christian university, here are the habits and choices I’ve seen work well, along with a few to resist.

1. Go to church—but not online.

The first and most important thing to do is find a local church, place membership there, and attend worship every Sunday you’re in town. Try the college ministry, go on the retreats, join a Bible study. These are non-negotiables for being a believer in college. If you’re at a Christian school, you might be tempted to let campus activities be a substitute for church. Don’t—they’re not. Nothing can replace the people of God, the word of God, the Lord’s Supper, or worship in the Spirit with fellow disciples.

If you’re not at a Christian school, you might feel tempted to sleep …

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