One of the reasons I chose to attend Cedarville University was because of the emphasis placed on spiritual growth. From discipleship groups to daily chapel to Bible minor classes focusing on theology and Scripture, Cedarville provides multiple avenues to grow your relationship with Christ. But I’ve found that the most valuable resource available to students is the local church.
You’ll hear our president, Dr. White, and faculty members say frequently that Cedarville is not meant to replace church in the lives of students. We are encouraged and expected to plug in at local churches, to find a place to serve and sit under pastoral teaching and build relationships with other believers of all ages. But how do you find a sound, biblical church when there’s one on nearly every block?
(1) Go to the involvement fair.
Every fall semester, Cedarville hosts an event where churches from all over the Dayton area come to campus. They set up tables with sign-up sheets and contact information, pass out fliers, and even hand out snacks! The involvement fair is a great time to grab your roommate or a few friends and start gathering information on local church bodies. Talk with the pastors and church members who man the tables. Check out which churches send buses to transport students who don’t have cars. Ask about how you can serve. The churches who attend the involvement fair want to love you and serve you, so don’t be afraid to show up and stop by several tables!
(2) Talk to people in your unit or on your hall.
Chances are you live with several upperclassmen who have experience church hunting. Ask the sophomores, juniors, and seniors in your residence hall where they go to church. See if they have any recommendations based upon your denominational background or preferences. They would love to help you find a church home-away-from-home. And don’t forget that your R.A. is another great resource!
(3) Google is your friend.
When I was looking for a church to attend, I googled churches in the area and started reading their websites. It was so convenient to pull up a church website each day and look through their mission and vision statements. Right there, I could see whether or not we agreed theologically and could decide if it was a good idea to visit in person.
(4) Attend a few services.
It’s one thing to read about a church and hear about it from your hallmates–but it’s another experience to visit a church in person, worship with that local body of believers, and sit under a pastor’s teaching! Visiting a church for a few weeks will allow you to become familiar with their values and goals. You might find that the first church you visit is a good fit; it may take more time and searching. Either way, attending a few services is a good way to figure out if you could see yourself sending down roots in that congregation for the next several years.
It’s no secret that prayer is an underutilized resource. When I was searching for a church, I would ask God to show me where I needed to be. There are so many wonderful churches in the area, and it was hard to choose. But I wanted to end up where God wanted me, not necessarily where I wanted me! God was faithful to answer that prayer; all I had to do was ask. Don’t forget to pray while you’re searching for a church. He will answer you, too, and show you where you need to be!
You will quickly find that it is easy to get overwhelmed while church hunting. There are so. many. choices. And really, that’s an incredible blessing! It’s okay to look around for a bit, but don’t get caught up in finding the “perfect church.” I promise, it doesn’t exist! Instead, once you find a church that has solid biblical teaching, a discipleship ministry, and avenues for you to serve, seriously consider committing! Be there every Sunday. Build relationships. Get involved. We aren’t meant to follow Jesus alone and involvement in a church home-away-from-home will help your faith thrive throughout your college years and beyond!
Majoring in Public Communications, Class of 2021
Favorite State: Texas
Favorite Beverage: Sweet Tea
Favorite View: A Cedarville Sunset