An open letter to those entering college and searching for a local church to join

This was contained in an e-mail I wrote to my brother. He’s starting his first year at Biola University, a Christian institution in the cozy city of La Mirada, CA. Even though he attends a school where everyone professes to be Christian, there is a huge emphasis placed on the fact that Biola University is NOT a church. Rather, its students should be going out to join and serve local churches during Sunday mornings, so the entire campus closes down and they do not offer a chapel service during that time.

I wrote this letter to him urging him to consider some of the things that I would place strong emphasis on in a church. Although he might not end up choosing those things (and neither may you), they are things strongly worth considering and the things that I would place at highest importance.

I wanted to find you a solid church with a strong body of believers that can help you to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).

Do you remember Resolved? Steve Lawson told us that he knows everything about what we believe from the church that we attend. It is so true; the church that you choose to attend will shape your beliefs about everything and it is imperative and extremely important to find a church because it will change the way you view God, the Bible, the world, and your life.

I want you to find a church that preaches the Bible as the inerrant and completely trustworthy Word of God, completely sufficient to showing us how to live (2 Tim. 3:16-17, 2 Pet. 1:21) because you cannot have a proper view of God without first having a proper view of His revelation, the Bible.

I want you to find a church that emphasizes the true roles of men and women in the household (Eph. 5:22-33), because it will immensely help you to have a proper view of marriage (if you choose to do so someday) by showing you the roles that the men and the women play in that relationship as a reflection of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and His church.

I want you to find a church that will help you to have a proper view of the end times (eschatology) because as Uncle Alan [my youth pastor] always says, the beliefs that you have about the end times will shape how you choose to live your life now.

And most importantly, I want you to attend a church that has a proper view of the gospel and of grace: that proclaims the magnificent truth of the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ that allows us to live lives pleasing to God, ALL BECAUSE OF GRACE (Rom. 12:1, Rom. 6:1-2, 1 Pet. 1:13-16).

These are the imperatives that I would greatly stress for those of you beginning college this fall and are looking for a church to attend. The church that you choose to attend will be the greatest place of growth in your life, and where you decide to go to church will determine the beliefs and views of God, the Bible, the world, and yourself when you finish college and enter the so-called “real world”. Make it worth it, make it your home, and make it your place of service because it is an eternal institution, a small glimpse into the everlasting Reality to come (Matt. 16:18).

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