Thursday, December 27, 2018

Top Ten Reasons to go to a Christian College

In these days of multiplying options, I repeatedly come back to the question, "Why would someone choose a Christian college today?" We can break down this question even further:
  • In a perfect world, why would or should someone choose a Christian college? and
  • How do our Christian universities line up?
Top 10 Reasons
10. Because it's a solid education
This factor must be a given. A Christian shouldn't suffer educationally because they go to a Christian college. The education they get must be on a par or better than what they would get at a secular institution.

9. Because it's accessible
If going into the world to proclaim the good news of Jesus is at the heart of Christian identity, then Christian colleges will not only be "havens for saints" but also will reach out to the ends of the earth with education from a Christian perspective and with Christian values. It makes sense that Christian institutions would have online and satellite programs in the same way that a healthy church reaches out beyond its walls.

8. Because it's affordable
There should be a partnership between the church and Christian universities that evens out (ideally, that even betters) the financial proposition of going to a Christian university. The most efficient way for the church to make a Christian college education affordable is to give directly to the students with scholarships. The church and university should partner in this endeavor.

7. Because it's a safe, quality environment
By safe I not only mean physically but in terms of things like the tendency of many universities toward rampant drug and alcohol use. By all means a Christian university should be fun and full of all the creative playfulness of the late teens and early twenties. But it should not be the party wasteland that is so many colleges and universities today. In fact, non-Christians should find Christian colleges attractive because of the quality environment.

6. Because of friendships
Many of us formed key life friendships in college. This is one strength of a residential college experience over a commuter college or a university where one gets lost among the masses. In this day and age it may be thought a luxury, but it should be a strength of the Christian residential college that you have close, life friends with deep Christian values. You become who you are around. Those who do not go for whatever reason should recognize that they are missing out on a special community.

5. Because of mentors
If a Christian college is working right, a student should form relationships with professors and other mentors that remain for life. Professors should not be "ivory tower" personalities who don't have time for their students. They should be regularly available for conversation on every level. Informal counseling, life coaching--what happens outside of class will probably be of more lasting value than what happens in class. Decades later, these relationships should continue. As I have told students, you're paying to have me as a resource for life.

4. Because of life trajectory
Where you go to college will likely set your life on a trajectory. Suffice it to say, you should be more likely to leave college headed in a Christ-centered direction if your starting point is a Christian college than if your starting point is not. This makes going to a Christian college extremely significant.

3. To be formed spiritually
A Christian college is not a church but it is a para-church community. Think of it in terms of a small group within a church. You do worship together. You have koinonia. There should be organized discipleship taking place in the dorms and among athletic teams. It should even happen in classes. Spiritual formation is the most important dimension of our lives, and it should be a major dimension of a Christian college.

2. To be formed intellectually as a Christian
Perhaps the focal task of an educational institution in general is intellectual formation. Spiritual formation is more important eternally, but it is not the reason a Christian college exists. There will no doubt be a significant degree of overlap between the learning of a secular and Christian institution, but at a Christian college faith should be integrated with the learning. This integration takes place on several levels: 1) with the faith of the professors and environment, 2) in the way knowledge is applied to life, and 3) in the very presuppositions from which subject matters are approached. A major reason to go to a Christian college is so that one can see one's area of study from a Christian worldview.

1. To be formed in Christian identity
Several of the above points make it clear that the 18-22 years are some of the most formative years of one's life. Where you end up spiritually in your life is more crucial than where you started out. For this reason, the life direction aspect of a Christian college should be of inestimable value. This direction goes beyond what career you choose or who you marry. It has to do with who you are. Because the ideal Christian college is far more likely to form you to be a Christ-follower for life in this most crucial transition period of your identity, this is an incredibly strong reason to go to a Christian college.


Martin LaBar said...

Good list!

John Mark said...

I consider you a resource for life, though our relationship is somewhat artificial. In all seriousness, I thank you for what you do. I have benefited a great deal from your online presence, though not as much as I might have (I refer in particular to your videos; I still hope to work through the ones on philosophy at some point. It is a matter of discipline, or lack of it, I fear).

Ken Schenck said...

I deeply you both continuing to read, even though I am not blogging as much these days. I benefit greatly from your interaction!