Substance has had thousands of college students come through our community at some point. In fact, many of our best leaders were going to college when they first found Substance. But as many of these same students entered the “real world” I’ve heard them voice a lot of regrets. Over time, I started hearing several themes emerge.
One of the top regrets of post-college students is financial debt – which is a regret that’s so obvious that I actually didn’t even address it in either of these blogs. Of course, I felt so terrible that I didn’t address this that I updated Part 1 of this blog series to include it : ) which you can check out here. But in part two, I want to hit regrets #4, 5, & 6! Are you ready?
4. “I wished I got More Involved with a Local church”
Christian college students usually go through two different phenomenon while going to college: (1). They quickly lose touch with their former church, family, and youth group community – which can be a refreshing experience for some. But it’s also dangerous because your statistical odds of walking away from Christ are quite high when you have less than 4 to 7 close Christian friends. And even Christians that get involved with a campus Christian group are at higher risk of backsliding, and here’s why.
The Bible says: “Planted in the house of the Lord they will flourish” (Psm 92:13) I.e., Your life is like a plant. And if your roots go deep into a local church experience, the Bible promises you will “flourish.” As I mentioned in my book Broken Escalators, there are many studies showing that committed church attendees experience significantly higher grades, higher levels of happiness, they accomplished higher academic achievements, they were notably better at time-management, and experienced better overall physical health! And these studies found that these same benefits do not hold true for Christians who are nominally involved in a local church. Of course, I’m not saying you need to go to your “mom and dad’s” church. But you need to go to a place that is committed to fulfilling all of the Bible’s purposes for a local church.
But many college students rationalize this by saying: “Yeah, but I consider my campus Bible study to be my church.” Or Christian college students say, “Chapel is my church.” But those same college students usually regret this mindset within a year or two after graduating. And here’s why.
One college graduate told me: “The moment you graduate, you feel like you were just excommunicated from your college student ministry. I mean, you’re technically not a student anymore… so you don’t exactly feel as welcome.” My wife & I have started to call it “Post-College Ex-communication.” It’s the desert season that often hits the young people who didn’t have deep enough roots in a healthy local church community. And this leads to the next regret…
5. “I wished I interacted with More Post-College People”
One of the greatest benefits I’ve had in my life is that I’ve always been surrounded w/people who were one step ahead of me. For example, by the time I was 20, I had a huge number of mentors when it came to marriage and finances. By the time I was 25, I was making financial investments that most people don’t even think about until they’re forty. By the time I was 29, my wife and I were able to take a massive risk and plant a church – none of which would have been possible if it wasn’t for mentors. Honestly, I can’t even take credit for all of my early success; because, in the end, I was merely an “arrow in the hands of a mighty warrior.” I was plugged into a local church that was filled with people who were a few steps ahead of me.
To contrast this, many college students spend 99% of their time with other college students – almost ALL the TIME. The only times they interact with people who are ahead of them is when they’re talking to their professors, or the lunch lady at their dorm cafeteria. Thus many college students experience “arrested development” because they never really get the necessary wisdom that would launch them well into the next season of God’s calling. Homogenous fellowship might be fun when you’re still looking for a spouse; but, at some point you’re going to need more than that. You’ll need to surround yourself with expert “life-troubleshooters.” But none of this happens when you’re commitment to a local church is half-hearted. Indeed a wise person won’t even bother to invest in a person who has no skin in the game.
6. I wished I spent More Time Doing Ministry During College:
Many people get so caught up in their studies that God’s kingdom takes a backseat. Don’t get me wrong: good grades are important. But I’m convinced that God puts a divine acceleration on our callings when we put his kingdom 1st (Mt. 6:33). As the old saying goes: “You can’t hold a torch to light another person’s path without brightening your own.” Over and over, the Bible teaches that God takes care of us when we take care of his kingdom.
Keep in mind, back when I was going to college, I had no idea that I was going to be a pastor. I figured that I was only cut out for one of 2 things: (1). Be a college professor or (2). A professional songwriter; yet, I knew that God wanted me to devote extra time to do ministry. At my church, the twenty-somethings ministry was absolutely dead. So I made it my goal to stir it up the best way I knew how. Throughout that season, I had several dynamic mentors who were watching me (and I didn’t even realize it). Many of these mentors became individuals who fast forwarded my life in significant ways. Looking back, I’m convinced that God was able to clarify and crystallize the calling he had on my life because I was faithful to take care of his kingdom. Looking back on my life, I have never regretted giving my time money and energy to the gospel; but, I have all sorts of regrets from the times when I didn’t. So make sure to have a college experience that makes sense in light of eternity.
Did you miss PART ONE of this blog? Click Here:
By the way, if you’re attending the University of Minnesota, NorthCentral, Northwestern, Bethel, Concordia, or any of the other universities in the midway, check out our new Downtown campus launching Nov. 1st! We intensionally placed it in downtown to be closer to our university students!