When I was a freshman in college, committing to a church didn’t feel like a big deal. I figured I could always just leave or stop going whenever I wanted. After all, it’s normal for people to bounce around to different churches in college, right? (I’m so grateful that, despite my noncommittal attitude, I never left the church I initially joined; my wife and I still are still actively involved more than four years later.)
What I now realize, however, is that my faith wouldn’t have grown nearly as much if I’d church-hopped during my college experience. Committing to a church changed my life. God used regular, mundane, and unglamorous commitment to a church to grow and strengthen my faith in significant ways. And promises to do the same for you through your regular commitment to a church.
You Need a Church
You are a freshman. Chances are it’s the first time you’re completely on your own. No more parents telling you what to do or monitoring your every action. You’re now breathing the fresh air of self-reliance. You make your own choices—and one is whether to wake up for church on Sunday morning. No matter how hard Mom and Dad push you or how many times Grandma asks you on the phone, when the Sunday-morning alarm rings on your phone, the choice is yours. In this moment, consider this:
You drastically need the church, and Satan wants you to think you don’t.
Satan wants to turn the fresh air of self-reliance into poisonous carbon monoxide. The last thing he wants you to do is to get up and go to church. As your bed starts to feel strangely more cozy, the thoughts start to creep in: What harm is it to sleep in for this one Sunday? You were out late last night with new friends, and they aren’t going to church today. You could use the extra sleep. And what about all the homework you haven’t started? It would be more productive to spend the morning studying.
Committing to a church in college changed my life.
Satan wants you to think that committing to a church is a waste of time, that there are far more beneficial things you could be doing. In reality, however, you need the church more than you need any extra sleep, study, sorority, fraternity, or student organization. The church is where the gospel is found, and Sunday morning is the time when the gospel gets preached to you. To quit attending church in college would be like Noah jumping out of the ark, forsaking the chief means God was using to preserve him.
You need the church because you need to hear God’s Word. You need the church because you need wise and godly mentors. You need the church because you need accountability for your profession of faith. You need the church because you need reminders that your identity rests in Christ crucified. By his death he purchased for you all the power, energy, and motivation you need to invest your life in a local church.
Five Quick Tips for Committing to a Church
- Use TGC’s Church Directory to find a gospel-centered church near your campus.
- Attend with friends. You are more likely to commit to a local church if you have friends who also desire to commit.
- Try different denominations. The universal body of Christ is larger than the denomination you grew up in. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, and it wasn’t until college that I attended a non-Baptist church. Of course, be wise and do your research before attending a church of an unfamiliar denomination—above all, ensure that it preaches the gospel. Even if you don’t enjoy everything about the church, at the least you will have a broader perspective on the church universal.
- Commit early. Once you have found a gospel-centered church, go ahead and commit. Join it. Submit your life to the oversight of its leaders and to the care and accountability of its members. Committing early will allow you enough time to really invest and get involved in the community of the church while in college.
- No church is perfect. Inevitably, the church you join will be deeply flawed even on its best day. Changing churches will not solve the problem. Every church is filled with imperfect redeemed people, including you.