Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders Why Should Students Consider a Christian College?

Why Should Students Consider a Christian College?

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Image courtesy of Bethel Seminary

The range of religious colleges in the United States is vast, from small Bible schools that prepare graduates for ministry to elite research institutions that have shed most of their founding Christian heritage. Some liberal arts colleges are still “church-related” and require a religion class or two, but they live out their Christian mission and values with religiously diverse faculty teaching religiously diverse students.

Then there are “Christian colleges” like the one where I work—Bethel University. These schools are academically rigorous and send their graduates out into a wide variety of careers, but they remain intentionally Christ-centered. While some have a “faith screen” for students and others don’t, they all require Bible and theology courses, seek to integrate faith and learning in all fields of study, and hire only committed Christians as faculty.

I’d still recommend that Christian high school students consider other kinds of institutions—including state schools—which have their own strengths. But here’s why all Christian teenagers should consider a Christian college as part of their search.

1. Christian Colleges Help Young Adults To Make Their Faith Their Own.

While it offers opportunities for worship, prayer, fellowship, and ministry on campus and off, the Christian college is not a church. While it confesses biblical truths and pursues a Christ-centered mission, the Christian college’s goal is not to indoctrinate students, but to help them to make their faith their own.

Of course, many of our students come from Christian families and grew up going to church. They build on those experiences when they come to college. But authentic Christian faith must be chosen, not inherited or imitated. So the Christian college has to be a space where young adults come to know Jesus more fully, as the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), and decide for themselves to follow him. Our faculty have already made that choice and confess Jesus as Lord, but it’s essential that we help our students encounter multiple points of view, as they seek their own answers to questions of faith, truth, justice, identity, and purpose.

2. Christian Colleges Relate Faith to Learning—Of All Kinds.

Of course, a key part of that exploration takes place in Bible and theology courses and in the work of campus ministry. But distinctively, Christian colleges seek to integrate faith into learning in every field of study. Mentored by spiritually mature faculty, students ask what difference their faith makes to the study of everything from biology to business, English to engineering, and healthcare to history.

In my courses, for example, students use the tools of history to better understand the causes, course, and consequences of 20th century wars. But we also ask what it means for followers of the Prince of Peace to take part in violent conflict: whether war can be just, the role of the church in relationship to a warring state, how we can love our enemies, and how we can build peace into something more than the temporary absence of strife. Meanwhile, students in the art studio one floor down are learning firsthand what it means to be made in the image of a Creator God (Gen. 1:26-27), while those taking a social work course one building over are considering how the same verses compel Christians to protect the dignity of the impoverished and the rights of the oppressed.