10 Ways to Feed Your Faith in First Year
Starting University or College Is a Big Deal. Here Are Some Ways To Find Jesus In Your New Student Life.
God will meet you in first year.
If you’re about to move away from home for the first time, on the verge of starting your first day on campus, or already in the third week of September, you’re in the middle of what is probably the biggest change of your life so far.
You might feel excited. You might be fighting feelings of loneliness. There’s a good chance you’re feeling overwhelmed. Those emotions are normal and God can use them all as He reveals more of His love for you.
You’re not alone.
There were people thinking and praying for you before you were even accepted into first year. Soon you will find Christian students who are passionate and serious about their faith. Campus groups are a place to find community and work to serve your campus. University is a fantastic place to learn about Jesus and see how He can shape every area of your life.
On many campuses across the country, there are InterVarsity campus staff who love students and want to see God move.
We asked campus staff, alumni, and current students for ways you can set up your student life so your faith goes deeper than it ever has before.
These tips will help find Jesus, and along the way, your place and people too.
1. Talk to Jesus
Jesus is with you. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Talk to Jesus and ask him to lead you and help you find the community he wants for you. God goes with you on campus and he has great invitations for you there. Be gracious with yourself. Jesus is cares about your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. Lean into Him.
You aren’t going to campus alone
2. Find your Jesus-place
It can be hard to find a space for yourself on campus, especially if you have a dorm roommate. Search out a spot in the library or at a nearby cafe that can become your regular spot to meet with God. Setting up a routine of reading your Bible, praying, and resting with Jesus will fill your tank.
Make Jesus-time fun
3. Connect with a campus Christian group right away
You can start connecting with Christians on campus right away. Start with a simple online search. Try, “Christian group on campus” with the name of your college or university. We’ve listed all the InterVarsity campus groups here. InterVarsity has a presence at many of the college and university campuses across the country. They’ve been getting ready for the upcoming semester for a long time.
Find community and you’ll be way more likely to grow in your faith
4. Follow Christian groups on social… and turn on your notifications
Some campus fellowships post a lot on social media. Seeing their posts will give you an idea of what you can expect when you go to the first event. Be brave and drop them a message. Post on the page, “Hey, I’m new. Tell me about your group.” They will be thrilled that you’re reaching out already. And while you have your phone out, follow the group’s page and turn on the notifications so you don’t miss out on any fun events.
Make the first move and it could change your whole first year
5. Go to the first events
Most students go to the first event of the year. It’s often a BBQ or something to do with free food. Go to the event and introduce yourself to the people you’re standing beside in the dinner line. Don’t be shy. There’s a really good chance they’re as nervous as you are. If it isn’t great the first time, try again. Make it a goal to make one or two meaningful connections and follow up. Don’t give up!
The perfect community doesn’t exist but you will go much further together than alone
6. Book a coffee date
If you connect with another Christian in class, in residence, or at an InterVarsity Fellowship meeting, make plans to meet them outside of the regular group meetings. You might find it hard to step out like this but remember, everybody in those first few weeks is in the same boat. Everyone around you is looking for friends. Be brave. Practice by asking InterVarsity campus staff for coffee, if there’s one on your campus. They’ll love connecting with you.
Make campus ministry your community, not just a weekly event on your schedule
7. Say yes
Jump at the chance to say “yes” at every opportunity. By saying yes, you’re adopting a growth mindset. Do the upper year students need help moving tables at the BBQ? Jump in and help. Are they looking for someone to come early to set up? Show up with a friend. Working alongside someone else washing dishes is an easy way to make friends.
Serving gets you connected
8. Choose a group and commit
There might be a number of Christian campus groups at your college or university. Feel free to sample them all in the first couple of weeks but then choose one to join. Pick the group where you feel the greatest connection with people. If you keep jumping from group to group you’ll miss out on the best friendships and leadership opportunities. No group is perfect. It’s worth choosing in and committing early.
Relationships are like a well. You never go deep if you keep pulling your bucket out when it’s half full.
9. Try one or two churches… but not three or four
You need Christian community beyond campus life. There’s probably a church nearby that welcomes students. Prioritize church and make it part of your week. Talk to the pastor and say, “I just moved here, I want to be more connected in the community, what do I do?” It’s okay to shop around a bit when you’re finding your church home but don’t browse for too long. Find a friend to join you on Sunday mornings. After a month, choose the church in which you’ll invest your time and energy.
Ask your home church pastor or friends if they know of good churches in your new city
10. Plan for the workload
Don’t drop your Christian friends or group commitments when school starts getting busy. There are generations of students who have remained committed to their campus ministries and faith all semester and graduated at the top of their class. You can’t do school 18 hours a day. Make Christian community your break from school instead of using that time to scroll. Don’t cancel every commitment you’ve made with your first midterms.
When your workload gets crazy, it’s your Christian community and faith that will give you life and energy
Bonus – It might be up to you to find friends
Make it a point to never sit alone in class. On the first day if you walk into a lecture theatre where you don’t know anyone, find someone else sitting alone and sit with them. It might not work, but you also might make a friend who will be with you all term.