One of the most intriguing aspects of working in college ministry is listening to Christian students talk about why they chose the church they attend. If you think about it, for college students this may be the first time in their life that they have decided where they will go on Sunday mornings (or evenings).
This is a huge moment in their faith journey. So, when I sit down with a student and ask them what they are looking for in a church, their response says a lot about how mature they are in their walk with Christ. Sometimes their responses can be superficial, and sometimes they can even surprise you.
I’ve heard students who choose a church based upon the location – well this church was right across the street from campus, so I decided to check it out. Many times, students will say that they grew up in a certain kind of church, and they were looking for something similar, because it felt like home.
Often, students will attend a church based upon a recommendation from a family member, friend, or another student. It’s funny though, I’ve never heard a student say that they chose a church because they had an awesome logo! I’ve never heard a student pick a church based on a cool sign or slogan. I’ve also never heard a student choose a church based upon a television commercial.
I have heard some really good questions from students about our church, and I always want to answer these four questions proactively!
Where do your college students serve in the church?
This is something that I’ve always focused my time and energy on. If the college students are only serving other college students, then they aren’t really serving the Church. We want our students serving in Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, international ministries, making an impact on the life of our church.
I don’t know about you, but I was an awkward middle schooler, just trying to survive and not stand out. When I look at my college students, I think about how amazing it would have been to have one of them re-assure me, and let me know that it’s okay to stand out for Christ!
Is there an opportunity for one on one discipleship in the church?
Who was the person in your life that has helped you become a disciple of Christ? Was it a Bible Study leader, Parent, friend? We want our college students to develop a relationship like that with someone in our church who has great life experience to offer.
The same way that our college students could have huge impact on a middle schooler, a successful business man or woman could have a profound impact on a college freshman who has just made their first “B” in their academic life!
Do your students have a strong sense of community?
How do we know if our students have a strong sense of community? They want to spend time with each other, they care for each other, they bring prayer requests on behalf of one another, and they know what is going on in each other’s lives!
Do your college students serve the community?
What does our college ministry do in the community? Do they serve and make a difference? Do they leave their mark on the city of Austin because of their involvement with our church?
When we answer these questions well, college students will see our Church as their home throughout their college years.
Brian is originally from Houston and previously served as the Connections Pastor at Real Life Church here in Austin. In that position, he served in a variety of roles with this new and growing church. He has also served as a Youth Pastor for Park Hills Baptist Church in San Antonio. Brian has been married to his wife Jennifer since 1999, and they have three children.
Brian holds a Master of Divinity in Biblical Counseling from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Wake Forest, NC) and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Sam Houston State University (Huntsville, TX).