I have often discussed the unique faith challenges that arise for many people during their college years. It’s not uncommon for a person to fall away from the faith in which they were raised while they are in college (or in general throughout young adulthood), and while some of them return, many do not. I strongly believe that we should take full advantage of those exploratory years, and we should encourage students and young adults to ask questions, challenge basic answers, and seek a faith of their own.
The problem is, the college atmosphere can be a really detrimental place to do these things, for one reason: there is no generational variety. Everyone in college is surrounded by peers who are around their same age and life stage, with very few exceptions. This means that the atmosphere creates an echo chamber, where the majority of people share common experiences, ask the same types of questions, and prefer similar answers.
In this kind of environment, it’s easy to avoid tough truths and skirt around true transformation. That’s why it’s so important for college students to be part of a faith community - not so they can hang out together more, but so they can know and be known by people who are different from them, who are in other life stages, and who will provide guidance. So I hope that you will seek out a college student and minister to them by simply learning who they are and what they like to do. The greatest boon to the ministry is for the church to invest in the students.
But here’s another problem: the echo chamber doesn’t end when we graduate. Throughout adulthood, we continue to give in to that tendency to surround ourselves with people who are most similar to us. This makes sense, and in many ways it leads to close and important relationships, but what are we missing when we fail to leave that comfort zone?
In light of this tendency, I encourage you to intentionally cultivate relationships with those who are different from you - especially those who are older or younger than you are. Take a young family to lunch, get to know a college student, or visit someone who is shut-in and unable to make it to worship. Join a Small Group, take part in our monthly Generations worship, or volunteer with the Children’s Ministry. Get out of your echo chamber and hear from some people you don’t normally hear from.