Part of making yourself at home in a new college community might be finding a local church where you can worship, make connections, and continue a path of spiritual and personal growth. What’s the best way to find a church that fits? Caitlyn Stenerson, a campus pastor at Bethel University, offers some tips.
There are many different ways to connect with God.
Don’t be afraid to explore new church traditions, denominations, or worship styles! You might be surprised by how much you love hymns, or liturgy, or contemporary services, or contemplative practices.
Now is the time to build lifelong rhythms.
Continuing to stay plugged in to a church home, even while you’re away at college, will help you prioritize your commitment throughout your life.
Campus ministries are amazing, but nothing beats the local church.
While campus ministries offer amazing opportunities to connect with God and others, the local church offers the beautiful opportunity to connect cross-generationally. We need spiritual mothers, fathers, big brothers, and big sisters to walk alongside us!
There’s no such thing as a perfect church.
Instead, look for a healthy community. Here are some questions to ask yourself in discerning the health of a church community and the right fit for you:
- Are people earnestly seeking God and remaining in humble relationship with one another?
- Is this a place where you can serve?
- Can you see yourself being truly known here? Are there opportunities for that to happen—for growth, authentic community, and discipleship?
- What’s the outcome of what happens on Sunday mornings—is the church helping you and others to pursue God and live as a disciple of Jesus in the midst of your regular, everyday life, as well as in difficult moments?
- Does the Holy Spirit speak to you through the mission of this particular church?
Pastor Caitlyn Stenerson is passionate about mentoring young people and helping people connect to God’s global call. In her role at Bethel University, she provides pastoral care for students and is responsible for coordinating the university’s chapel ministry. Caitlyn earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Bethel University and a master of divinity degree from Bethel Seminary.