honest advice from honestly nice people
By Kelsey Phipps
Finding a church in college can be intimidating, especially if you have deep roots in your church at home. Luckily, you’ve chosen a college nestled in a city with countless, diverse options for churches. Whether you’re looking for a small, close-knit community, a trendy mega-church vibe, or a nontraditional experience, Waco has a church for you.
One advantage of Baylor is that you are surrounded by a large community of people who are excited to welcome you in to be part of a meaningful, lasting spiritual connection at Baylor. “Church hopping” can be a great experience to discover the right fit for you. To be successful in finding a church home in Waco, here are a few tips and reminders!
1. Don't be frightened about the size of churches.
Small churches can offer a wonderful community with a close-knit, family feel. Plus, you’ll meet some families who want to welcome you in and be a host family for you for holidays, etc. This is so valuable. Larger churches (or even “mega churches”) offer a wide diversity in congregation and tons of events to attend. You’ll most likely see multiple people from campus every Sunday, and it can be nice to have a college group to grow with. Plus, some larger churches even have “adopt a freshman” programs where you’ll be matched with a host family.
2. Don't go it alone.
Visiting a new church can be an intimidating experience when you’re by yourself. Out of everyone you’ve met at Line Camp, Welcome Week, Late Night, and classes/organizations, you will have tons of options of groups to church hop with. Whether you decide to round up a group of fellow freshman still looking, or jump in with a group already settled somewhere to see how their Sundays look, going with friends can make you feel more comfortable and open up good discussions to find the best fit for you.
3. Do your research.
Looking up churches on the internet can give you a pretty good layout of the general vibe before you show up on Sunday. This can help you narrow down options, and show up a little more prepared for what’s in store. However, don’t let this be the way you rule out an option—keep an open mind! You never know until you try. A church’s website is merely a glance at what they’re about.
4. Reach out.
While you’re looking at websites, find contact info for college pastors and get in touch with them. Talk about what you’re used to at home, what you’re looking for now, etc. College pastors love connecting with new students to help them find their church home!
5. Go to the church fair!
Baylor even takes a step for you and brings churches to campus! Clear your afternoon to spend an hour or two walking around the booths and getting to know the different churches present. Take handouts, be sure to get directions/addresses, ask about carpools, meet fellow students who attend, etc… This is a great opportunity to “speed-date” some churches!
6. Follow your heart!
At the end of the day, no matter where your friends end up or what church had the coolest college program, you have to make the decision based on where you feel God is leading you. Church is so important for college students seeking to grow and keep their faith—it’s mostly the first time we’re on our own spiritually, without family or a home church to back us up. Getting plugged in to a spiritual community can make all the difference in your college experience.
Happy church hopping! I hope you find a beautiful community that wraps you in the love of Jesus and leads you to do the same for others. As always, if you have any questions or you’d like to talk more about this post, feel free to contact me at Kelsey_Phipps@baylor.edu or on Facebook!