It’s time to help your graduating seniors find a church home away from home as they leave for college. Please take the time to introduce them to a confessional Lutheran pastor and congregation where they may continue to attend and receive God’s gifts in Word and Sacrament. You may begin by clicking here to find LCMS U campus ministry chapters.
Why It’s Important
I just returned home from one of the summer orientation sessions on campus. We have a little booth and display board among all the other campus ministry groups where incoming freshmen and transfer students can meet us. I was speaking with the Roman Catholic representative and he said, “I’m sure you’re like us… We hope to get to the students who are from our own Roman Catholic churches now, because if we don’t, someone else will.” Absolutely! It has been my experience as a campus pastor that many of our LCMS students are being invited to and attending “non-denominational” small group Bible studies the minute they set foot on campus. I rarely even get a chance to clarify the doctrinal differences and just like that the students stop attending “grandpa’s church.” Or, as it often happens, students instantly fall into the habit of not going to church at all—you know with classes, jobs, and social life being more expedient. Forgiveness and eternal life are cast aside as things that can “wait ‘til later.”
In his book, The Defense Never Rests, Craig Partonnotes how zealous the para-church groups are on campus. He applauds their zeal, but reveals their error as he describes his own experience. He also provides an excellent defense of the Lutheran faith and the liturgy. Would that every LCMS student would read his book before going to college!
What to Look for
At the UNWRAPPED Conference for college students in January 2013, the Rev. Marcus Zill and company gave new logo for LCMS campus ministry. Although the logo may not be perfect for those of us who try to squeeze every last ounce of theology in such things, it does clearly read “LCMS” and that’s a nice little distinction to make. Our intention is to milk the logo for all it’s worth. We are putting it on shirts, shorts, signs, display boards, publications, websites, etc. We believe the logo will be useful for LCMS students to identify the campus ministry that belongs to them. On the local level, we want to make sure that the LCMS U logo will identify a group of confessional Lutheran students who worship when they worship (reverent and liturgical), work when they work (merciful and hardworking), and play when they play (know how to have good, clean fun).
BTW: Rev. William Cwirla’s “A Guide to Church Shopping” has been a favorite among our students. It describes what to look for in a church: namely, that it is Christ-centered, confessional, sacramental, and liturgical. Would that every student would read his paper! (Google it and you’ll find it somewhere.)
What to Do
My point is simple: When your high school students are graduating and making plans to attend college, those plans should include finding an LCMS U campus ministry.
Pastors, take time to contact the campus pastors with the name(s) of your student(s) attending college near them.
Parents and guardians, take your students to the LCMS campus ministry during your campus visit. Get their feet in the door so it will at least be a familiar place to them when nothing else is.
Students, introduce yourselves to the pastor and the other students at the campus ministry. Set your alarms for Sundays. Attend the Bible studies each week if they are offered. Get involved with the social activities. And, don’t be afraid to ask your campus pastor the tough questions that you have when you are presented with all sorts of different worldviews. He will direct you to the Worldview Everlasting whatever Issues Etc. might come up in Table Talk or when you find yourself Fighting for the Faith. He is there to help you remain Steadfast on Campus!