Do We Need Churches on College Campuses?

Luke Lezon (@lukelezon) is a pastor, speaker, writer and member of the leadership team at The Alternative (thealternative.org), a gathering that unites local churches and communities for a night of worship in the Atlanta area.

I remember walking into Reed Arena on the campus of Texas A&M in College Station. Thousands of students filed in, many raced to seats closest to the bottom, I pulled my hat down, and walked towards the nosebleeds. Tuesday nights meant Breakaway, a Bible Study that often times filled the basketball arena more than actual basketball games did. This week in particular had been difficult for me, I had a lot on my mind. I just wanted to worship alone.

When I got to the top I saw a young man, tears streaming down his face. I asked him what was wrong, and he said, “I didn’t want to believe what all of these people believe, but how can they all worship something so passionately that they cannot feel? That doesn’t love them back the way they love? I walked in here to make fun of it all, but I feel like God has extended to His love to me tonight, and He has invited me into His story.”

In the upcoming film, GOD’S NOT DEAD: A LIGHT IN DARKNESS, the local church is attacked and nearly burned to the ground.  But no sooner than the fire is out the university, on which the church grounds sit, uses the controversy to try and force the church off-campus.  As you can imagine, this sparks a conflict unlike any the university has never seen before.  It also opens the door to some interesting questions, like, “Why should churches be a part of college and university campuses?”

My answer is simple. Because in a culture that loves the idea of self-discovery, what better time to help students discover who they are than when they are trying to discover their purpose in life? What better place to help individuals discover what they were made to be and do than the church? College students are living in their most formative years. It’s a time where they are learning, growing, transitioning from adolescence into adulthood. They are growing up, and it comes with challenges.

I met people at churches through Breakaway that weren’t even professing Christians, but they told me that the sermons were helping them feel more equipped to handle the stress and pressures of college life than anything else. The church doesn’t just have solutions to student’s problems, it has the Answer Who walks with them into their classrooms and challenges. If the church isn’t on college campuses, then the church is missing the opportunity to pass the baton of faith to the next generation. Part of running your race well is handing off the baton. We aren’t running a sprint, it’s a relay, and the message we pass on brings hope to the world. Let’s not only educate but edify.

Don’t miss the incredible story of faith through suffering in GOD’S NOT DEAD: A LIGHT IN DARKNESS, which opens in theaters nationwide March 30, 2018. Buy tickets here