In my experience, Christian freshman that come to large state universities most often come with what I call a “retreat mentality.” Since their schools are viewed as large party schools, they are advised by well-meaning parents, friends, and youth pastors to be careful not to get involved with the wrong crowd or fall prey new temptations they will face. There is nothing wrong with the advice in and of itself, but I believe it is incomplete advice.
A more complete exhortation to incoming freshman should also include an admonition to be a witness for Jesus among their classmates, dorm-mates, and new friends. Freshman should not be encouraged to simply avoid temptation. They should be encouraged to make a difference in the lives of others. For the following reasons, Christians should be challenged to come to campus with an “advancement mentality.”
It’s a Promise
Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18). Gates are a defensive measure meant to stop an enemy. It’s the enemy that is on defense. Yet, somehow, we convince students to simply find a church and hunker down so that after college their faith is still alive. This is an unbiblical viewpoint. Jesus promised that the church would be on offense, defeating the enemy and taking his ground. Freshman should expect to be used by God to change the lives of the new friends they will meet on campus.
It’s a Prayer
Jesus prayed that his disciples would not be taken from the world, but would be protected from the evil one (John 17:15). Then he prayed, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world (John 17:18).” He did not want them to leave the world or separate themselves from the world. Rather, He wanted them to be sent into the world just as he was sent into the world. Jesus left “The Holy Huddle” to dwell with sinful men and call them back to God. This is Jesus prayer for freshman too. He is sending them from their “holy huddle” to a lost campus to bring students back to God.
It’s a Preparation
Tomorrow’s politicians, educators, CEOs, parents, professional athletes, entertainers, activists, missionaries, and innovators come from our universities. What would happen if generation after generation of students graduated having earned their specific degree, but also having learned how to live on mission with Jesus in their sphere of influence? Cities and countries would transformed, because each year we would graduate thousands and thousands of missionaries who know how to live on mission in the marketplace and neighborhoods. College can be more than career training. It can be a missionary training, preparing students to impact businesses and neighborhoods around the world.