By Ashley Tripp, Student at the University of Alabama
“Get plugged in,” the group leader advised us. It was my first day of freshman orientation at the University of Alabama, and I began to lose count of how many times I heard that phrase throughout the day.
Students and faculty stressed the importance of getting “plugged in” with clubs, student leadership, going Greek, volunteering, etc. However, what they failed to mention to us was the importance of getting involved with a campus ministry. Getting “plugged in” with a campus ministry is incredibly important because it allows students to build lasting friendships with a community of believers while growing in their spiritual journey.
Campus ministries are organizations I wish I would’ve known as a freshman. The majority of my first semester revolved around sorority life, school, dance and Alabama football. I didn’t get plugged in a campus ministry because I would make up excuses such as studying, sorority stuff or dance rehearsals. As a result, I began to “church hop” and attend a different campus ministry every week to fit the needs of my schedule.
Eventually, I learned that church-hopping isn’t the solution. Instead, it is important to find that one campus ministry that you enjoy and invest your time and efforts there.
It wasn’t until the spring of my sophomore year that I settled down and became invested with Bama Cru, Campus Crusade for Christ’s chapter at Alabama.
At Bama Cru, Campus Director Jeff Norris is “convinced that the greatest need that incoming college freshmen have is to explore and develop the spiritual area of their life.”
“One of the best ways to do this is in the context of community,” Norris said. “Often times, freshmen are curious about faith and want to develop their spiritual life, but they don't know where to start or who to start with.”
Universities have numerous opportunities for students to get involved with a campus ministry. At UA, one opportunity is participating at our “Get on Board Day,” held within the first week of fall classes. The purpose of “Get on Board Day” is for students to get a taste of all the different organizations UA has to offer.
Campus ministries meet weekly and offer a chance for students to get “plugged in” with small groups, freshman Bible studies and socials in order to gain personal relationships and dive deeper in their faith.
In addition, campus ministries offer retreats, conferences and mission trips for students to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a part of a community of believers and to share their faith with others. Christians are not called to live in a “Christian bubble,” but to invite others to be a part of their walk with Christ.
“Through surrounding ourselves with a Christian community in college, we are not just challenged daily to further our walk, but also to unify the body of Christ on campus,” said Lauren Whitten, senior accounting student at Alabama. “Therefore, it is vital for freshman students to immerse themselves in a community of faith not only to create a thriving atmosphere for their college and a spiritual life but to begin the journey God has created for them to share his grace with others.”