Can you believe that school is already starting and now the summer of 2017 is another page in the history books? This is the ebb and flow of life, and it moves swiftly. As you begin this new school year, it’s important to remember that this year is gift from God—one that you should not waste. As a Christian on your school’s campus, take time to consider the following points as you kick-off this new school year that should be viewed as an opportunity.
Remember—Light Is Not For Hiding
As a Christian student, you are to shine as a light on your school’s campus. Never forget that a city on a hillside cannot be hidden, nor do people hide lamps beneath baskets in their homes. Light is intended to shine into the darkness and that’s God’s will for your life.
Matthew 5:14-16 — You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Look for open doors to communicate the gospel to your friends during this school year. God did not create you by accident, save you by chance, and place you on your school campus through a random process of evolution. You were created by an all-knowing and sovereign God for a purpose. God saved you for his eternal glory and placed you on your school’s campus during this year of human history for a divine purpose. Don’t hide your light at lunch, in the locker room, or in the science classroom (even math points to God). Look for opportunities to build good friendships with Christian teachers and other Christian students as a means of working together to reach your campus for Christ.
All of those stories you were taught in Sunday school and sermons that you sat under have prepared you for this moment. Your theology of creation will be tested this year. Will you have an answer? As you study biology and physical anatomy, it is very probable that your theology of human sexuality will be called into question. Will you have an answer? You see, it’s vitally important that you never disconnect the whole of your life from the center of Sunday’s sermon. Never lose sight of the fact that your worldview (how you see the world) is very much connected to the sermons and lessons from a typical Sunday and family devotions in your living room.
Theology matters and everything you believe about God, life, marriage, and family will be tested throughout your education process. This year, something you believe about your God and how he saves sinners will be questioned. It’s important for you to have an answer and to be prepared to have unplanned theological conversations in the hallway or over lunch with friends who simply don’t understand.
What If You Never Graduate?
Every school has been marked by tragedy at some point in the school’s history. I can tell you stories of people that I once knew who never made it to graduation day. It may happen to someone at your school this year. It could happen to you. Even the young are capable of dying. So, what if you never make it to your graduation ceremony? How will you be remembered?
Will your friends recall your bold unwavering stance on the gospel? Will your reputation point to Jesus Christ? Guard your reputation and remember that your character matters. Everyone has a legacy to leave behind, and far greater than any statistic in the world of athletics is a faithful Christian testimony.
You only have one life to live—no reset buttons—don’t waste this school year. A wise old preacher named Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said:
A man’s life is always more forcible than his speech. When men take stock of him they reckon his deeds as dollars and his words as pennies. If his life and doctrine disagree the mass of onlookers accept his practice and reject his preaching.
Are you planning for your child to leave your home for the Christian college campus? How are you preparing for that transition? I’m not framing that question in terms of empty nest or emotional management plans. I’m interested in knowing how you’re preparing your child for this transition. Did you know that many children are lost as they go off to Christian college each fall? It’s not only possible, but a sad reality that many parents lose their child on a Christian college campus. I would like to propose five important truths to communicate to your child before they leave home for the Christian college (or any college for that matter).
Communicate the gospel clearly
Many parents have done a great job of teaching their children the Bible, but that’s not always the case. A great number of parents live life with the idea that the youth pastor in the local church and Christian schools are given the responsibility of discipling their children. That could not be farther from the truth. According to Bible (see Deut. 6; Prov. 22:6), the task of discipleship rests upon the shoulders of the parents. Therefore, no parent should expect their child to go off to a Christian college and become a strong Christian if that foundation has not been established in the home. Take time to clearly articulate the gospel to your children and ensure that they understand the gospel without question. Don’t assume anything as you prepare your child for transition to college.
Warn your child that their new Christian college campus will be filled with….sinners
No matter how well parents seek to train, disciple, and prepare their children for the real world, surprise is inevitable. It would be wise for parents to prepare their children for the reality check that awaits them on the college campus. Fellow students will engage in grotesque sins while on the Christian college campus, and this is not only outrageous – it’s normal. In that same vein, the professors and faculty members on the Christian college campus are sinners too. At some point or another, the Christian college professor will disappoint students. Sin is not just out in the world, it’s living and abiding in the heart of every human being. Preparation begins with proper self-introspection prior to student body evaluation. The reality of a sinful world is necessary for students to navigate the challenges of sinful attitudes, motives, and habits of the very people they will share their college campus with. There is no such thing as a Christian utopia – not even in the Christian college world.
Remind your child that the local church is a must
Does your child understand the necessity of the local church? When students are forced to live hours away from their home church, unless they’re well connected in a local church setting, they will likely waver and enter into a great spiritual slump. It’s just as important to search for a good local church near the college campus as it is in researching the school’s accreditation, reputation, and academic value. If the school is wonderful but there isn’t a good church nearby, it would be best to choose a different school. You can’t put academic education on a higher plane than spiritual maturity and growth.
At the end of the day, the Christian college serves as a parachurch organization. The church is vitally important and must never be replaced or overshadowed by parachurch ministries. The oversight of pastors, accountability and encouragement from fellow church members, the faithful teaching of Scripture, and the observance of baptism and the Lord’s Supper cannot be replaced by colleges or campus groups made up of students and faculty. Your college student cannot be discipled by other college student for four years. Your child needs to be mentored by older and faithful Christians through a local church body. Just as parents guide and assist in the selection of the right college, it is likewise the duty of parents to be involved in the selection of a healthy local church for their child while away at school.
Teach your child that professors are not pastors
A large percentage of students go off to college and build close relationships with their professors. This can be a healthy thing, but in some cases it can be extremely dangerous. Because of the educational position, degrees, and accomplishments of many professors, the student body will often become enamored with professors as intellectual superheroes. The Christian student must be prepared for this ahead of time and must be taught to respect their professors without idolizing them. Furthermore, it would be wise to teach your child that they must be under the authority and care of faithful pastors. Good professors are not enough, pastors are essential. Unless taught to submit to biblical authority in the a local church setting, your student will likely learn to live a sinful life while earning a Bible degree.
Make sure your child knows that the Bible is sufficient, trustworthy, and authoritative
Many students have gone off to college only to grow cold and antagonistic toward the Bible. It happens when they go into their first New Testament or Greek class and learn that we don’t have one single original document of the sixty-six books that make up the canon of Scripture. If not taught properly by faithful professors, students can be led astray to doubt the veracity and authority of the Bible. It would be wise to build a good foundation at home regarding the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Bible before your son or daughter moves their furniture into their dorm room. It’s a sad reality that many professors, even on the Christian college campus, have a slanted agenda when it comes to the Bible. Be careful and exercise great discernment.
When it comes to Christian bookstores and Christian schools, many Christian parents lose all biblical discernment powers. For some reason, the very word Christian when used as a title for a bookstore or a school campus is like Kryptonite for the Christian. It’s vitally important that Christians exercise great discernment when preparing their child to enter a Christian college. Not all Christian colleges are Christian these days. Not all Christian college professors believe the gospel. Not all books that appear on a syllabus for a Christian college class will actually teach true Christianity. Discernment is necessary no matter what title or denomination is attached to the school. Not only should Christian parents exercise discernment, but they too should teach their children to do the same.
Recommended Colleges: Looking for a solid education built upon a good theological foundation? There are many good schools across the nation, but I want to take time to recommend two schools for upcoming college freshman.
- Boyce College – Louisville, KY
- The Master’s College – Santa Clarita, CA