Published in the Sept. 28, 2016 issue of The Bells
A study conducted by the Barna group shows that approximately 40 percent of college students do not retain their faith during their college years. The university not only wants to cultivate a student’s education, but also their faith.
University Chaplain, Dr. George Loutherback, believes that finding a church that fits one’s needs is essential for a college student.
“A local church connection is very important for community, spiritual growth, and for feeling connected,” Loutherback said. “A local church offers opportunities for ministry investment, a chance to be with peers in a worship experience, [and] a chance to learn and be taught by someone who is gifted in the ability to teach.”
For students searching for a church, Loutherback suggests talking with other students, visiting several churches in the area, and picking the one that the student enjoys attending the best.
Churches of all different denominations can be found in the Belton/Temple/Killeen area, most of them offering college groups for local students.
First United Methodist Church in Belton even offers a home-cooked lunch on Wednesdays for college students in exchange for a small donation. Students can enjoy fellowshipping with peers and church members during this time.
For those who don’t have a transportation method or simply want to worship close to home, Everyday Disciples Church has weekly services on-campus in the Bell Baptist Association.
“The Bell Baptist Association uses their building as a church plant incubator for free, so we are taking advantage of the space and opportunity to be on-campus,” Pastor Rich Diaz said.
Outside of finding a church home, students can grow spiritually through service opportunities through the university’s Baptist Student Ministry. Some of the ministries led by the BSM include Drama Ministry, Hospital Ministry, Helping Hands, Hope for the Hungry, Random Acts of Kindness, and Worship in the Quad. Other ministries include Cru Catholics, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Small groups, an on-campus Bible study organized by Temple Bible Church.
“I think it’s important to get involved in ministries in college because you need to figure out how to stay rooted in your faith,” said Children’s Ministry co-leader sophomore Spanish major Rosie Sawatzki. “When you’re away from home the first time it’s easy to get distracted by all the things in the world, and we need to set aside time to be reminded who we are to Him and in Him.”
Sawatzki believes that through Children’s Ministry she’s able to live out Jesus’ teachings about loving her neighbors.
“Being with the kids helps me realize that I’m working towards something with real meaning,” Sawatzki said. “I get so focused on my personal agenda that I start to feel sorry for myself. But sometimes you have to stop freaking out about yourself and your problems and put other people first. God will help all the rest fall into place.”
Loutherback believes that whether you’re looking for a local church or wanting to get involved in a ministry at UMHB, students must take a leap of faith and look around.
“Don’t give up if you don’t find one [a church] right away… You’ve just out to take some initiate on your part and then you can plug into a ministry.