Advice: How to Stay Christian in College
Getting ready to go to college, or currently in that stage of your life and not sure how to stay Christian in college? Keep reading.
Coming to college, I really didn’t have the strongest faith. Sure I believed in Jesus, and that He is the Son of God, but I didn’t really know much other than that. Once I got to school, I was surrounded by some of the greatest influences that helped me start my journey.
A version of this article originally appeared in K Southern Style. You can view it here.
Tips For How to Stay Christian in College
The Beginning of My Journey
Starting in 2019, my struggle with my faith was something I really battled with. My senior year of high school was pretty rough, and thinking of faith was the last thing on my mind.
However, I had a not-so-friendly reminder that life is short, and going through a dark time got me going back to church. I went off and on for a few months, and suddenly 2020 hit, and I stopped attending for a while.
I had the whole “I’ll take this more seriously later” mentality growing up, and set my relationship with Jesus aside. I really regret ever thinking that way. Nothing compares to the light and love that the Lord provides.
Going into college, it took a lot of time for me to forgive myself for that mentality. It wasn’t until the middle of my first semester when I was sitting in church listening to a sermon about forgiveness that my point of view was transformed.
We were learning about forgiveness, and how Jesus is always there to welcome you back with open arms. I realized that while Jesus had forgiven my old mentality, I hadn’t. I spent a lot of time in prayer and reading the Bible, and it blossomed into a wonderful relationship with the Lord.
Reading Your Bible is Food for Your Spirit
The biggest step I took in growing in my faith was spending time on my own to read the Bible. It’s crazy to me looking back at my life now, claiming to be a Christian my whole life, and not even really picking up and reading a Bible until I was almost 18.
I used to think that my verse of the day that popped up on Instagram was good enough. But when I started going back to church consistently, I was honestly embarrassed with how little I knew.
Everyone around me could quote verses by memory and knew all of the stories by heart. I could probably tell you two verses, and maybe one story with some fuzzy details.
Once I started to read my Bible on a consistent basis, I really felt a better connection with God, and wanted to know as much as I could about being a Christian.
My 2021 New Year’s Resolution was to read my Bible every single day. Even if I was tired, sick, traveling, or going out, I made a point to read at least one chapter before I went to sleep.
Sure, there were times that I felt distant from the Lord, and was super tempted to skip a day because I really didn’t feel like reading it. But the more I kept pushing myself on those days, the more motivated I felt to keep going. It became a habit.
If you’re a busy college kid like me, please make some room in your schedule to sit down and read a little bit of your Bible. I promise it’s worth setting aside 5 minutes of your time.
Spend Time in Prayer
God wants to have a relationship with you. Yes, YOU!
Spending time in prayer communicates your thoughts and feelings with the Lord, and grows your relationship.
Whether you’re having the best day ever, or angry, discouraged, and sad, let Jesus know what’s going on. He cares more than anyone else.
I spend a lot of my day talking to Jesus about things going on, and it really makes me feel closer to Him. Even when you think He isn’t listening, He always is! This is the best way to really connect with God and strengthen your relationship.
The Gift of Community
One of the greatest gifts the Lord has given us is the gift of community. It’s important to find a Christian community to surround yourself with. There are many verses in the Bible that talk about its importance.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
I really love the emphasis this has on the importance of not pursuing the Lord all on your own. While I believe in the need for a person to have a personal relationship with the Lord and to make some quiet time to spend in prayer and in His word, it’s also essential to have a group of equally yoked people surrounding and supporting you.
College can be a tricky place to meet other Christians. I recommend looking to see if there are any Bible Studies geared for college students, churches to join, or a religious organization on campus.
Chances are there is probably something for you to join, and if not, start your own! I’m sure there will be other students out there wanting to surround themselves with other Christians.
During my first year of college, I joined a Christian Sorority where I was introduced to women from all walks of life, all with beautiful testimonies. Those women were such a blessing, and have taught me so much about being a Christian, and encouraged me on my walk with Christ.
Dealing with Temptation
College has every temptation that life can throw at you. Relationships, parties, drinking, hook-up culture, etc. I can’t tell you how many times within the first week I was overwhelmed with everything the world was throwing at me. I was young and living on my own with no one to tell me what was right or wrong.
While not all of the things college has to offer are bad, I would take it all in moderation. If you want to go to a party, be a designated driver and keep your friends safe.
If you want to enter a relationship, make sure you set boundaries in the beginning.
If you want a drink, limit yourself and don’t try to get wasted.
However, it can be so easy to let these things get out of control. If you know all of these things are too tempting and will cause you to sin, try and stay away. There are plenty of other things to do. Try and find a community to help pull you away and hold you accountable. Jesus is more important than falling into worldly pleasures.
Christian Books for All Kinds of Advice
My friends and I have come up with a list of books besides the Bible that we have loved and feel have helped us grow in our faith. Up until a year ago, I had no idea that Christian advice books even existed, and they have really opened up a new world for me. Here are some that we recommend:
(The following book recommendations contain affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase, we’ll earn a commission at no extra cost to you, which we will donate to Compassion International).
This is hands down one of the best Christian dating books out there. JP offers a fresh perspective on dating as a Christian, and how to utilize your season of singleness. It has taken off the pressure of finding “the one,” and how to approach dating as a Christian. Single or taken, this book is great for all!
Welcome to Adulting by Jonathan Pokluda
If you can’t tell, I really like JP’s work. I haven’t read this book yet, but I’m really excited to see what he has to say. As a young adult, navigating the waters in the real world has been a rough ride. This book offers advice for anyone new to being an adult, and some great advice.
Single, Dating, Engaged, Married by Ben Stuart
This book is popular among many Christian college students. The author, Ben Stuart, is the former director of Breakaway Ministries, an on campus Bible Study at Texas A&M University. Ben does a phenomenal job explaining the purpose of each stage of dating, and how to pursue them biblically. I recommend this more to people in relationships since I feel it’s a little more geared towards that audience.
Lastly, Live by Sadie Robertson. She’s a great speaker for teens and young adults. In this book, Sadie discusses how to live in God’s plan and embrace what He has in store, instead of trying to live in worldly desires. I, myself, sometimes struggle with not knowing what’s in store for my life, and trusting that God has something amazing planned for me. If you’re struggling with trying to embrace the plan the Lord has for you, I would recommend reading this.
My Final Words..
College is a perfect time to figure out who you are. God has created a wonderful plan for you, and has given you so many tools to help you along your way. You’ll make mistakes along the way, but He is so forgiving and cares about keeping a relationship with you. Use this time to your advantage. I hope these few tips help you along your journey!
Thanks for your post! I went to a Christian college and saw people leave their faith as soon as they were faced with questions they hadn’t thought of before. I came across a book recently that would be a great addition to your list and would have been helpful to have when I went to college: Surviving Religion 101 by Michael J. Kruger.