Suggestions for Students facing the Campus Challenge
Contact us immediately.
Find the nearest LCMS ministry or parish and get us your college address and phone ASAP. Set a pattern of involvement as soon as you get to college. Time pressures can be one of the devil's most effective tools to isolate students from God's people and from God Himself. You will be overwhelmed with opportunities for activities, many of which look much more attractive on a resume than Christian growth. A small amount of time spent in daily devotions and weekly worship and Bible study can bring you great benefits and keep you anchored in Jesus' love all through the chaos of college life.
Your faith is going to be attacked on campus. But no intellectual attack, no matter how formidable it seems, can truly overthrow the Christian faith. You are not alone. Don't be afraid to seek help from fellow believers and church workers. All of us have questions and doubts, even the greatest of saints (Just read the Psalms!), and it is all right to share them. Church workers are often amazingly gifted in intellectual or personal support, and if faithful they should not be shocked at anything you say.
Be informed in advance.
Since a "sheltered" life is impossible at college (even a Christian college), get as much information as you can from Christians at that campus as to the local atmosphere and obstacles for Christians. For example, on several campuses, students encounter problems in Religious Studies classes due to the anti-Christian bias of some scholars in the field (e.g., Joseph Campbell). Try not to be discouraged if you or other Christians are "baited" or tripped up by a professor in an argument. God's people have lost many arguments, yet God is not thereby dethroned, nor is Jesus returned to the grave. Some humorists speculate that one of the attractions of being a professor is never having to admit being wrong!
Choose a campus Christian ministry or parish based on substance, not hype, entertainment or popularity. Watch out for attractive sounding but deceptive names! Sadly, some self-styled "ecumenical" groups encourage ideologies that radically revise or reject parts of the Biblical witness. Likewise, ignore claims by groups to be "non-denominational," because doctrinally there is no such thing. Groups that make such claims (such as, Campus Crusade) are overwhelmingly Baptist or Pentecostal in outlook. Lutherans in such a setting may be misunderstood, or sometimes pressured to be "rebaptized" and join another kind of church. Cults sometimes also try to recruit members claiming to be "Christian." Learn to appreciate and trust the Lutheran Church and her priceless grace-centered message.
Hear the Gospel.
A "faith" based on fear won't survive one term. The center of true faith that "conquers the world" (I John 5 :4) is God's wonderful forgiving love in Jesus Christ. This is the sort of faith that will not just survive, but will flow out to others in a verbal and non-verbal witness. The Holy Spirit can use both kinds of witness to bring people into God's Kingdom of grace and love.
Pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17).
You are never alone! God comes to you in His Word and Sacrament, and He always hears and lovingly answers your prayers. When times are tough, keep running to Him, not away from Him. And remember His love in good times as well. "Every good and perfect gift is from above" (James 1: 17).