Students! Welcome to Boston, a city of over 600 churches, where you can connect with a diverse body of Christians from all over the world. We invite you to explore our website for opportunities to celebrate unity in the body of Christ by connecting with others through social gatherings, volunteer opportunities, and a home church. Carson Weitnauer, UniteBoston member and director of Telos Ministries, has over eight years of experience in student ministry. We asked him to share some advice as you start your student years here in Boston:
Welcome to Boston! I’d like to invite you, the hypothetical Bostonian freshman, to consider gaining the not-so-famous “freshman three” this year. I’ll explain what I mean below.
To begin, we need to recognize that your arrival in Boston offers you both challenges and opportunities.
On the one hand, your college years are an opportunity to shed any connection to a childhood religion, forge your own path, gain power through acquiring knowledge and building social capital, and create your own preferred future.
On the other hand, as a student, you can develop a mature understanding of Jesus, humble yourself to follow His will, acquire knowledge and social capital so you can become a more empowered servant of others, and trust in God’s providence for the future.
These two paths are starkly different. The first path will be relatively easy to adopt. Study hard, party hard, build your personal brand through social media, go for the most competitive summer internships and jobs, travel the world, catch a few lucky breaks, and you’ll be set. When you get depressed or lonely, do something to relax, exercise, take a nap, and keep trying until things work out.
But think hard about this. While there’s plenty of good in this path, some of the potential downsides may include an overriding anxiety about what others think of you, relentless pressure to continuously perform at peak capacity, ongoing and costly investments to maximize your personal appearance, an underdevelopment of the necessary character traits to form a durable and happy marriage, a restless and confused spirituality, and an undercurrent of disappointment with what the world has to offer.
This is rarely mentioned, but in eight years of campus ministry, I’ve seen it a hundred times.
The second path, the way of Jesus, is definitely harder on the front end. For one, you’ll need to take the initiative to break out of your school’s bubble and make friends at a local church. Rich learning experiences await you there: as you change diapers in the nursery during Sunday worship, develop friendships with the adults in the congregation, hear gospel-centered, biblically rich sermons, participate in a Bible study, and serve the city of Boston. You need to be relationally invested in a great church home to grow spiritually, but it will take some time, energy and discipline to get connected.
Second, with an open, flexible schedule, you may struggle to find a time to be with God each day. The truth is that there’s no better source of wisdom and guidance for contemporary life than the Bible, and there’s no greater source of love and grace than God Himself. Becoming fully human involves connecting with your Creator and Savior on a daily basis.
Third, you need a mentor, someone who is a self-forgetful servant, who is really interested in your life, your questions, your doubts, and your issues. They also need the courage and maturity to share with you from the Bible and their life experience in a way that challenges you to become mature in Christ. This may be an uncomfortable experience at times, but if you know they care about you and you respect their life, it will be a good experience.
That’s the freshman three: a church home, a daily experience of God’s love and God’s wisdom, and a spiritual mentor. Be encouraged: there are plenty of good church homes in Boston, many ways to connect with God, and dozens of godly mentors across a variety of campus ministries. We’re praying that you’ll gain all three this year.
Carson Weitnauer is the Director of Telos Ministries and loves ultimate Frisbee, board games, homemade pizza, and, most of all, his amazing wife Mo. Carson blogs on the big questions of life at simpleapologetics.blogspot.com Carson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can learn more about his church home, Church of the Cross, at www.cotcboston.org.