By Sydney Fowler
Every kid dreams of one very special day: the day they go off to college. As much as that may hurt parents, it’s understandable. Who wouldn’t be excited at the thought of finally moving out of your parents’ house? It’s a rite of passage in a sense. It means that you’ve grown up. You now have more freedom than you’ve ever had in your life. All that’s asked in return is that you attend classes. Pretty good deal, right? From this perspective, yes. But closely examining college life reveals another side that most newly graduated high schoolers don’t think about. College is not just a place meant to teach you skills for a career or how to live on your own. It is also a place that will present you with unexpected challenges. This was one of the struggles I faced during my first year of college.
One would think that attending a Christian school would not present a challenge to my religious worldview, but I found out that this is not true. Thankfully, the main problems I faced were not regarding the validity of the Christian faith on a general level. Instead, the challenges I encountered were more focused on the denominational level. Growing up I have always attended a Baptist church. Most of my friends have been Baptists as well. College was a completely different story. For the first time in my life, I was outnumbered. Most of the people I met were either Non-denominational or Presbyterian. Although I did have some Baptist friends, most of them were not interested in the “traditional church setting” that I was looking for and found local non-denominational churches to attend. This made it difficult to find a church that I wanted to join.
Now, I do not dislike non-denominational churches. I usually enjoy the services when I go to one. However, as someone who has grown up liking a more traditional style, the modern style that I typically associate with Sunday evening services and youth retreats is not exactly what I am looking for on a Sunday morning. But when the only options were to visit the churches my friends were going to or to stay in my dorm, I wound up picking my friends. After all, a different style of service is better than not going at all.
After visiting a few churches, I was able to find a traditional church that I wanted to attend with my roommate. While I was fortunate enough to find a church that fit what I was looking for, God used the whole process to teach me something valuable. He showed me that whether you attend a traditional or modern service isn’t nearly as important as whether or not you attend church. God does not exist merely in one style of service. Matthew 18:20 says “For where two or three have gathered in My name, I am there in their midst.” God does not relegate Himself to one denomination, so why should we? And while it is ok to have preferences for worship style, at the end of the day, the most important part of the search is finding a church that stays true to Biblical teachings and preaches what the Word says.
This has been something incredibly valuable for me to learn at this stage of my life. I am about to enter the world on my own in a few years. And I have a feeling that finding a church that checks all the boxes is going to become increasingly harder. Even though that thought somewhat saddens me, it’s comforting to know that even if a church does not seem like a complete match, that doesn’t mean that God is not there. And as I go into my sophomore year, I am excited to see what else God has in store for me.