Campus Ministers Worry for College Students Leaving for Summer

( [email protected] ) May 11, 2004 08:27 AM EDT

With the school term ending, some college students will be returning home which means they won’t be able to attend the weekly fellowship and Bible study meetings, hang out with brothers and sisters in Christ and be surrounded in a spiritually nurturing environment. However, campus ministry leaders are encouraging students to keep the faith by continuing good habits over the summer.

For one youth pastor, choosing to stay back with the “spiritual family” at the campus ministry is the best way to ensure one’s faith won’t sway from temptations at home.

“We’re encouraging a lot of students to stay and get jobs and internships,” said Campus Pastor Clayton Bell of Victory Campus Ministries at Florida State University. “The environment is so important. It doesn’t matter what town you’re in but who you are around.”

Bell said he is making arrangements with other members of the ministry to provide summer residence for students who wish to stay but cannot afford housing. He was able to find a couch for one student this summer but more so a way for him to continue his fellowship lifestyle.

"We encourage students to show them how important it is to build successful habits in our lives,” said Bell.

“There are patterns in your life that are causing you to grow but as soon as you get outside of the patterns, you sit still,” said Andrew Laffoon, current president of VCM at the University of California, Berkeley. Then, students eventually realize that “not only have they gotten stagnant but they’ve fallen back”, he said.

According to Laffoon, not only do college Christians end up letting their faith grow stagnant, many may fall into temptation upon returning home, turning to parties, alcohol, and sexual impurity.

“So many students compromise and give in a little bit and more and more and more,” he lamented. “You choose to chain (the temptations) or be changed.”

One way of preventing destructive sinning habits is to be accountable, says the leaders.

“Stay connected, stay covered under authority, and stay transparent,” advises Bell, “Don’t wait for someone to call you. There’s no excuse... The devil will sow seeds of doubt and questioning. Stay covered under spiritual authority. Stay transparent—if you fall under some sin, don’t wait for someone to find out but you call them and schedule weekly phone appointments.”

Reading the Bible is the second good habit leaders are recommending students continue during the summer.

During the last meeting of “The Source”, VCM meetings at UC Berkeley, Laffoon gave a message entitled “Running the Race” to urge the students in persevering through trials and temptations over the months away from the fellowship environment.

VCM at Florida State will be continuing their weekly large group meetings with scheduled men’s weekly Bible study group and a women’s Bible study group that plans to study the “Beth Moore series”, according to Bell, whose wife Kelly Bell will be leading the women’s group.

To address the third major topic, prayer, Bell said there will be prayer meetings on Friday nights.

And last but not least, Laffoon said everyone should live lives of worship.

Many college Christians are “the unsaved church people”, said Bell referring to research by George Barna. “The unsaved church people” were raised up going to church but do not know that repentance is a life change.

Bell said VCM will be providing summer resources that will help nurture students’ faith while they are away. A devotional handbook includes a summer program 10-book recommended reading list, bible diet guide, daily prayer guide, and faith confession. In addition, a summer prayer guide will also be handed out in the package. “Even if they weren’t here, they would consistently be connected,” he explained.

For those going home, Laffoon advised, “You don’t want to put yourselves in the situation that you know you are going to fall.” Regardless of what kinds of friends they will reunite with over the summer, do not go down to their level but bring them up to your level, he said.

Students who are staying will be doing their own part to help those at home.

“They are praying for all the students out there,” said Bell.