Category Archives: School

How do you pick a church at college?

BY TYLER FARR

I did not think that I would find a church that I would enjoy going to when I moved to small town Iowa. Little did I know, after two years of avoiding the Orange City church scene, I would stumble into a church that I could call home.  I have not been a church goer for long, but being insecure in my faith, being comfortable around other Christians is a must in order for me to open up and embrace the community.

Orange City, Iowa is a small town with many churches. I feel like this is a common theme in the area. Being in the Midwest it isn’t a surprise, but what is special about this small town is that the city population gains an additional 1200 college students between the months of August and May. The most encouraging fact for the local churches is that the local college is affiliated with the American Reformed Church. So the real question is how do churches make themselves desirable destinations for the college students?

Over the last three years I have seen the following promotions:

  • Sunday Breakfast
  • Bible Studies
  • Sunday Dinner
  • Free coffee
  • Nursery Positions
  • Ministry opportunities with children
  • Ministry opportunities around the church
  • Supporting our Spring Service Projects
  • Host Families

While each church has had their merits when I have given in to peer pressure and gone to church, nothing has ever really kept me at a church for long. Not until I found my current church. The thing that is so special about this church is that while they have Sunday dinner, free coffee, nursery positions, ministry opportunities and host families, it is the first time that I have felt like I belong and that I am a valued member of the community. I joke with the Pastor on a weekly basis, I go to my host family’s house frequently, I work in a ministry and I go to a weekly Bible study group. So for a college student that is new in her faith, I have to say they have plenty of bells and whistles.

At the end of the day however, it isn’t the attractions that keeps me going to my church. It’s the fact that… the pastors and people know who I am, and my absence is noted when I am gone. That we can joke about what mistakes I made during service when running the projectors. I am part of a loving and supportive community that values my commitment to them. So as much as I love the bribes that college town churches throw out there. It’s the people and the environment that truly matter. They need to make us feel like we aren’t temporary, and that our spiritual and communal growth is extremely important to them. It may seem like a lot, but when you find the right church is easy. You just have to dive in with an open mind and heart waiting for God to speak to you.

 

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What should we take away from #itooamharvard?

BY TYLER FARRharvard

#itooamharvard:

The story is told on a Tumblr feed where roughly 40 African American Harvard students posted a picture of themselves holding a racial comment or stereotype that has been spoken to them. The undergraduates generated the campaign as a way to stake their claim as a Harvard student, generate discussion with classmates, and bring attention to the racial tension present on campus. The students really felt, being at a Caucasian dominated school, that while they may be a part of the student body, they are not “Harvard.” The campaign has sparked questions across other college campuses about diversity, equality, identity, and stereotypes.

How is this present on our own campuses? Do you see or feel the racial tension on your own campus that is described by these college students. Do you not see the tension and the insensitivity because you don’t want to? Do you make offensive comments? Do you make assumptions? If we are part of the dominate white culture what should we be doing? What should we be doing as a Christians? These are questions we should be asking ourselves.

 “Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Zechariah 7: 9-10

We need to open our eyes to our neighbors. We need to look at our fellow classmates with respect and not judge them based on the stereotypes that are prevalent in popular culture. We may have been blind to things that have been said, we may have been content to never stand up against something said, and we may have been complacent in our position, but no more. Everyone deserves to feel loved and welcomed in the world, no matter where they come from or what they look like. It may be a simple idea, but it is a lot harder to stand up for others and fight the world. Love your neighbor as yourself, and make anywhere a place where we can all be.

 

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5 ways to Survive Finals

Photo cred: ninewaysofknowing.com

Photo cred: ninewaysofknowing.com

By: Tyler Farr

One of the best things about college is that there are so many different things that you can do over the course of a school year. There are campus wide games, dances, sporting events, and random acts of fun, all of which will help you create the memories that will last you a lifetime. So, I am going to take a minute and remind everyone that as the school year comes to a close—HAVE FUN. I know that this time of year is crazy, stressful, sleepless, and even insane, but I cannot stress enough that having a little bit of fun will make the hard times better. So, here are 5 tips for finishing off the semester.

1)      Take random adventures: Is it raining outside? Grab some friends and dance in the rain. Hungry? Make a meal with your friends. While you are studying for dead week and finals just remember that the random memories are the ones you remember most.

2)      Take little breaks: Our brains can only work so hard, so if it’s taking a 15 minute nap, or watching part of a show, make sure that you break up your studying blocks. You might even be able to get some packing in.

3)      Go outside: While you might not be the most productive, being outside lets you soak up some vitamin D and makes you happier. Giving yourself a little bit of time during your study grind to be outside will make it easier to buckle down later.

4)      Have an All-Nighter: I would not suggest this the night before a final, but staying up late with a few friends studying will spark the most random and fun conversations. It is a college staple, and you might end up doing something that you will never forget.

5)      Find your study spot: Make sure you know where to go if you really have to pull up your bootstraps and study. It varies for most people, but even spending an hour a day in this spot will make you more productive.

Remember, dead week and finals week do not have to be the end of our existence. Yes, it’s hard, but you also need a little time to remind yourself that you are sane. Good luck, don’t procrastinate, and study hard!

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Seven Ways to Survive an Overload Credit Semester

By: Tyler Farr

I may be insane for overloading, but if I want to graduate in May of next year, sacrifices have to be made. This would be my sanity and my free time for the next two semesters. Between my six classes, soccer activities/workouts, and two jobs, I have to balance a lot. Twenty credits into the semester, I’ve come up with some tips to help me get through the sleepless nights and panic attacks.

1)      Space it out: Have to read a novel in a week? Break it down and be diligent. Whether it be 20 pages a day or 50, if you are sure that you do your part every day the load won’t become daunting the day before class. Like the book I have to read tomorrow…

2)      Set realistic goals: I would love to get straight A’s, but I know that most likely it won’t happen. I am going to aim for the best that I think I can do, and then adjust my standards as the semester goes on. As much as I would love another boost to my GPA, this semester is not about perfection.

3)      Have fun: Whether this be reading a good book or going out with friends, this is the key to your sanity. You will not be productive if you are brain dead, and your friends will not love you for neglecting them for four months. Do not say no to every invitation to go out, and take a break every once in a while.

4)      Exercise: I get plenty of this from my soccer workouts, but take a break and get your blood flowing. The endorphins will make you happier, and you will feel better. Morning workouts or yoga are the best because it gets your metabolism running and wakes you up without caffeine. This could be just a walk around campus, weight lifting, or even a Zumba session. You can study on the elliptical too, if you are skilled enough.

5)      Keep your favorite snack food on hand: For me it’s cosmic brownies, and the chocolate indulgence has saved me more than once from a breakdown. Do yourself the favor and make sure you have a good stock. While it is not always the healthiest solution, it sure makes you feel better.

6)      Spend time with God: For me it’s my nightly Bible reading. He will provide comfort and support when you feel overwhelmed.

7)      Minimize distractions: I have sacrificed my Netflix account and try my best to stay off of Hulu. Yes, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, etc., are there just waiting for me to log on. I just have to stay away and do my best to stop myself from the hour long Facebook breaks. If you have a huge paper due, have your friend change all of your passwords. It sucks, but it is necessary.

I often fail at these tips, but I am making progress. So if you have to make the commitment to a semester that will make you want to pull your hair out, this is my suggested best practice. Good luck and happy studying. Don’t worry, your hair will grow back.

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Stuff Bible Students Say

The profile picture of the Twitter account.

The profile picture of the Twitter account.

By: Matt “Gadget” Latchaw

Go back to the very first paper you wrote in college. Chances are you’ll find some errors and inconsistencies. You may also notice some things that you no longer agree with or some writing that is just plain bad. Here’s one of mine from my first theology class.

“The idea that we have dominion over the earth does not give us the free will to do whatever we want with it without care.”

All of us made such blunders as wide-eyed, bumbling freshmen, and one anonymous Biblical Studies professor at an undisclosed university has taken it upon himself to share the most cringe-worthy excerpts from his students’ papers on Twitter (https://twitter.com/BibleStdntsSay). Here are some of my favorites.

“If your going to make an attempt to live by the Bible then do so, not just when you interrupt something to be in your favor.”

 “I love joyce meyers & joel osteen but ive found I dont always agree w/ every interpretation they have of the Bible and that’s fine.”

“Greg Boyd seems to be an extremist who doesn’t want to mix church with the government, so his statements were not accurate.”

 “Genesis refers to all humanity as being sinners by inheritance of Adam male and female therefore partakers of sin by birth and by deed.”

 “This paper has shown that Christianity and Agnosticism are two different viewpoints.” 

 “I agreed with Greg Boyd because the whole basis of Christianity.”

 “In my opinion, NT Wright’s research into the Bible is just going too far.”

 “We should all just accept what God has given us in the world today and not criticizes everything everyone has done.”

Poor grammar, misspellings, incoherent structure, and botched theology abound, and the results are both hilarious and embarrassing to fellow Christian college students. This is not to accuse these students of being ignorant simpletons or lazy slobs. Everyone has to start somewhere in their learning, and all of us struggle with being open to unfamiliar or difficult concepts. It’s easy to laugh at the carelessness and naivety of others, but there’s something deeper going on here.

The authors of these selections are studying theology and exploring ideas within the realm of faith. What’s more shocking than the silliness of the quotations is the apathy behind them. These Christian students have enrolled themselves in a system of higher education that teaches Biblical Studies, but some of them couldn’t even be troubled to proofread their papers before turning them in. On top of the mistakes, some of the selections point out a severe lack of engagement with the curriculum. Each person is entitled to an opinion, but that comes with the responsibility to thoughtfully form one of their own.

Self-referential logic and circular reasoning may work fine inside a Christian bubble of safety, but the point of taking a religion course is to interact with ideas outside of the familiar. In order to grow in faith and knowledge students must challenge and defend different beliefs. As Christians, we spend too much time and far too much money on these 4 years to throw assignments about faith together so haphazardly.

As Christians and college students we need to be confident in our endeavors towards knowledge and faith. We should take the task of externalizing our beliefs seriously so that we can grow. We don’t have to fear confusing or foreign theories. We can trust in the God who is Truth rather than in our own theology so we never sound like this:

 “I look at the bible in my own interpretations & I can agree with that.” 

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How to Get Along with Your Roommate This Year

By: Tyler Lehmann

Living with another person in a 10-by-10-foot room is difficult at best, disastrous at worst. Still, sharing a dorm room is an invaluable experience because it teaches you how to get along with someone who can be very different from you.

To lessen the chances of a meltdown, it’s important for roommates to understand each other’s personality types. That way, when a conflict arises, you’ll have a fuller awareness of why it’s happening.

A simple yet insightful test, the Gary Smalley Personality Types Inventory uses animal characteristics to illustrate human personalities. Finding out which animal you’re most like is not only entertaining, but it’s also easy to remember.

Here are Gary Smalley’s four personality temperaments:

  • Lions seek dominance. They like taking charge, and they’re very competitive.
  • Otters seek influence. They make friends easily and get very enthusiastic.
  • Golden Retrievers seek stability. They are peacemakers and enjoy routine.
  • Beavers seek agreement. They are often reserved and always read the instructions.

To find out which animal your personality fits, take the Gary Smalley Personality Types Inventory. You may find that you have a primary type as well as a secondary.

Use your result to keep yourself in check when tension mounts between you and your roommate. With an awareness of your tendencies, you’ll be better equipped to find solutions that are beneficial for both of you.

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