One of my favorite things about life at Grove City is my circle of Christian friends. They encourage me and point me to Christ. Having friends in this stage of life who can give advice and walk with us is so important. But I believe there is something even more important for our spiritual walk. In his book, Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life, Stephen Nichols writes:
[Dietrich] Bonhoeffer stressed the community of peer groups, like the community at Finkenwalde and in earlier such communities as the ‘Thursday Circle.’ These, like the church, are genuine communities. … [But] they do not, for Bonhoeffer, replace the church of even take priority over the church. They are a poor substitute for the church. The church is the institution God promises to bless in the pages of the New Testament. And it is our personal connection to the local church that is paramount in our living the Christian life. These communities — part of the church universal — support the church local. When they supplant the church, something crucial is amiss. (Kindle Locations 1057-1072)
So as important as it is to find Christian friends, it is also important to find a good church — and each endeavor should support the other. (Your friends can recommend churches to you and if you find a good church, you will eventually get to know the other students who attend). Some of my best friends at Grove City are those who I met at church.
Fortunately, the College values local churches and encourages students to get involved. For instance, Harbison Chapel does not offer a Sunday morning service. The College provides a helpful listing here of nearby churches.
Practically, there are lots of ways to serve at church as well: I have friends who have helped with youth group, worked in the sound booth, taught Sunday School, and prepared food for events.
I took the first month or so of freshman year to visit a few churches in my denomination, and then prayed about it and did some thinking and chose one. I have been attending there since. Additionally, I have participated in a college Bible study that our pastor leads, as well as weekly lunches where our pastor comes to one of the dining halls.
If you are looking at colleges, I encourage you to make sure that you can find a church nearby where you can worship and serve over the next four years. One of the blessings of being at Grove City is the abundance of nearby churches — some of my friends literally walk across the street on Sunday mornings to go to church. I’m looking forward to returning to campus in January and seeing everyone at my church again; it’s been quite a while!