Most of the college campuses in our area started school this week, which means it’s been a very eventful week for me and for the college ministry. On Tuesday night, we fed over 60 students at Texas Wesleyan University and made some great connections there. On Wednesday, several students shared testimonies of why their relationship with Christ and their faith community are important to them. Tonight (Thursday, as I’m writing this) we’ll have a big game night here at Southside, then Friday night is an outdoor movie in Fairmount Park, followed by Kayaking on the Trinity Saturday morning. I’m so thankful for volunteers like Frank Jett, Bailey & Caroline Gammill, Israel Ramirez, Jenna Gleaton, Chino Gregory, and James Gleaton, as well as student leaders like Nadine Villarreal, Kenedi White, Mariah Ray, Chris Brown, Shane Bell, and Vic Norris, who have helped immensely to make all of this possible.
All these events and activities are planned in the name of connecting students to one another, to the church, and ultimately, to Christ. The week is a flurry of fun, fellowship, and free food (so much food!), but it all serves a bigger purpose.
First, it re-solidifies the community shared among students who are part of the ministry already. They have been away for the summer, traveling, working, or just visiting home, and during this first week, they will get acclimated again to life on campus. We want this time to involve spiritual friendships and a community centered around faith, plus we want them to have plenty of good excuses to invite others into this faith community.
Second, as new students arrive, either at school for the first time, or visiting Southside for the first time, we want them to feel like they are already part of the group, and our “Welcome Week” events help them to feel like they belong early on in the semester. Statistically, most students will meet their primary friend group during the first four weeks of school, and there’s a good chance that those people will become long-term friends for them. If we can help to cultivate those friendships here, then God will work through those relationships in incredible ways.
And lastly, this is the time to lay down a charge before the students to see their time at school not only as a time to learn, make friends, and have fun, but also (and moreso) as a time to grow spiritually, discover a faith of their own, and engage God’s mission in all walks of life. If students and young adults develop healthy spiritual habits now, they will stay with them for a long time.
We hope and pray that God will transform students into disciples. Not only for college students though but for the church at-large. Let’s seek ways to live more deeply than our education or career -- to live as disciples of Christ in every area of life!