I grew up in a home where we went to church every Sunday and frequently prayed together as a family. Throughout middle school and high school I went to church because that’s just what we did as Christ-followers — and because if my parents were leaving the house, so was I.
As I left for college I realized I had a choice. I could go to church, or I could sleep in on Sundays. This is when I decided to take my faith into my own hands in an effort to grow into the person Christ created me to be, apart from my family. It wasn’t always easy, especially when I had various distractions competing for my time, like homework, extracurriculars, and friends.
Here are a few practical tips I found helpful in growing spiritually while in college.
1. Find an Accountability Partner
Whether it’s with a roommate, teammate, or mentor, having accountability to stay on track in both class and in faith can make all the difference. I found that my roommate freshman year was the perfect person to help keep me accountable. She was always so inspiring because she set time aside each day after class to read her Bible and talk with God. It helped in my personal walk with God to see her diligently and carefully using her time. She was an encouragement to use my own time wisely. I recommend you find someone who can be that for you.
2. Find Creative Ways to Read the Bible
The most important and useful way to grow spiritually is to crack open your Bible and read the Word. But for some, being consistent with our Bible reading is hard. My advice is to start a habit of reading your Bible, whether that be one verse, one chapter, or one page per day. Try the YouVersion app, which has daily Bible reading plans. Get creative! Here’s a well-designed Bible with amazing pictures and text. Apart from daily reading, intentionally resting and quieting your mind on God will change the way you pray and read your Bible. This rest allows us to focus on quieting our minds so we can hear God. It focuses our attention on Him — the most important Being — rather than the million other distractions in life.
3. Go on a Missions Trip
When you’re face to face with people in need of freedom and forgiveness, I truly believe it lights a spark in our own lives. As we tell others about how God has changed our lives forever, it becomes new and exciting again. We remember that feeling of connection, and coming back home from a foreign place renews both our faith and excitement.
Crown’s many different international connections provide an incredible opportunity for students to go on Destination: Serve mission trips. During my time at Crown, I both participated in and led a trip to the Dominican Republic. It was a time of learning to rely on God for everything. I worked in a very poor community at a school about the size of parent’s my living room. It was a humbling experience to witness the pure happiness the students there have everyday with so little. I expected to teach them about Jesus, but instead they taught me what unconditional love and joy really looks like. My time in the Dominican Republic helped me become fully aware of the present. So often, I get worried about the future and if I will have what I need. The kids I served opened my eyes to the joy of the present time and being content with where I am at.
4. Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
If you don’t challenge yourself, you’ll never grow. When you do the same things day in and day out they become ordinary and mundane. If you’re anything like me, you need variety in your life and oftentimes that also means in the way you worship. Finding a new place to worship can be the key to experiencing God in new and exciting ways.
I never participated in a fast before, but one of my college courses required us to fast from something for an assignment as an exercise to take that time to focus on God. I chose to fast from social media for three days because I spent an embarrassingly large amount of time scrolling-scrolling-scrolling each day. This was hard for me. Social media and my phone were a comfort zone, a way to avoid awkward situations, and a way to pass time.
God spoke to me during those three days and I am convinced I wouldn’t have been aware of it had I been spending all that time on my phone. During those three days, I was approached by multiple people close to me who said I should lead a Destination: Serve trip to Ukraine. Although that trip didn’t work out in the end, I took a step in faith to follow through with what God was asking of me. That failed opportunity opened another, and it changed my life.
2 Peter 3:18 says: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever! Amen.”