Four ways to grow in your spiritual life during college

Hi! I’m Chalsi Campbell, campus pastor at Bluffton University. One thing I always tell my students is that good Biblical work and interpretation happens in community. Because of the built-in community, I believe a college campus is a great place to explore and strengthen your convictions. Here are some of my suggestions to grow in your spiritual life during college no matter what school you attend!

Seek out resources on your campus

Your school will have resources on campus for you whether you’re attending a private, Christian school or a large public university. From Neuman Centers for Catholic students to meditation rooms in the campus library, ask around and find out what services your campus offers.

Early in the year, your school will likely hold an activity fair where you can learn more about various clubs and organizations. Many organizations also hold campus-wide events where you can get a feel for a group. On Bluffton’s campus, students organize a weeklong celebration focused on their relationship with God called Spiritual Life Week.

At these types of events, you’ll also have the opportunity to meet upper-level students. Strike up a conversation. Seek out peer mentors who are not only walking a similar path to you but who will stretch and challenge you to dig deeper.

Connect to local churches

Local churches will offer different types of opportunities than you will find on a college campus. There are people in the community who care about the student population and who will provide a different type of mentorship than a peer. Some of the churches near Bluffton invite students to potlucks or will hold special events for them. Feeling connected to the community beyond campus may also help you feel less homesick. 

Read, pray, do the work

I think studying the Bible as an academic tool allows your faith to grow, and my course evaluations are a testament to that. I’ve had students in my entry-level Introduction to Biblical Worldview class who have never read the Bible because they just couldn’t understand it. A college class is a good steppingstone to further spiritual development. Hopefully your professors will walk through your journey with you.

Some colleges require students to take specific classes offered by a Religion, Theology or Bible department. Others may offer a variety of electives. If you are interested in furthering your spiritual development in an academic setting, talk to your advisor. They can help you choose which classes may correspond with your major, add a minor or change majors, or simply find elective classes that are of interest to you.

I also encourage you to find a Bible with a translation that connects to you and to read it. You can use study guides and tools to get more out of each passage. Be intentional in your prayer habits and reading. Find a peaceful place to be with God. On our campus, we have a prayer labyrinth, which is a place I go to concentrate on prayer. Set goals and stick to them.

Visit the Center for Career and Vocation

When students want to connect their major to their spiritual life, the obvious path is ministry. And while that option was right for me, it’s not the right path for everybody. So, I suggest students go to their college’s career center early and often. Career center professionals will help you think through your skills and goals in a broad way. They’ll help you uncover opportunities to minister to people in ways that do not look like traditional ministry.

You also need to think through what will make you happy. So many times, students will think about what God is calling them to do rather than what they want to do. I tend to think they are one in the same. God is not going to put something in your heart that’s not God’s calling. They go hand in hand.

Thinking about changing your major? Check out this blog to think through your options.

At Bluffton

Bluffton University was founded in 1899 as Central Mennonite College. Today, we remain grounded in the Christian and Mennonite values of respect, peace and service, but our students come from all backgrounds of life.

Bluffton’s campus ministry team organizes weekly, voluntary Chapels featuring a variety of speakers, music and fellowship.  

Many students also take part in faith-based clubs and organizations such as:

FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes)—uniting the passions of faith and athletics, to impact the world for Jesus Christ

Delight Ministries—a Christ-centered community for college women

BASIC (Brothers and Sisters in Christ)—meet for food, fun and fellowship and grow in your faith

On our campus, we will meet you where you’re at in your spiritual life journey and are ready to help you grow in your relationship with Jesus. We hope to see you soon on a campus visit!