Tag Archives: church

How do you pick a church at college?


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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Why I dress up for church


Photo cred: bendthelight.com


I was raised in a conservative Lutheran church in a Midwestern town. It was expected that my sister and I dressed up to attend church. It didn’t have to be suit and tie, but there were a few simple rules we had to follow. No tennis shoes with slacks. No jeans. No t-shirts. A collar was preferred. My sister wore dresses or skirts a fair amount. She wore earrings like my mom, and I had a couple clip-on ties to be like my dad.

Then we moved to another town. Our new church had less suits and more jeans. Some of my friends would show up to church in t-shirts and ragged shorts. My parents felt the pressure and let me get on the “causal-wear” bandwagon. I used all the well-worn excuses. “It’s about what’s on the inside, not the outside; I don’t want to be materialistic; I should be able to worship in what’s comfortable.”

I realized that as my dress for church got lazier, so did my attitude on worship. I stopped taking notes on sermons. I seemed to misplace my Bible more often. More casual dress was supposed to make my worship experience more intimate, but I was simply checking out.

I found there’s something sacred in the preparation of getting ready to go to church. Maybe nostalgia has more to do with that than anything. But when you spend a little more time in the shower, make sure you didn’t miss any spots shaving, and choose to wear the best clothes you got, it means something.

When I’ve visited Haiti and had the opportunity to worship there, it’s a far cry from our evangelical circles. People who feed families off ten dollars a week come dressed up in suit and tie, flowing dresses, polished shoes, and ornamental hats. Church is a big deal to them. They know they’re entering the presence of the Lord in his house, so you give your best effort as a result. A lot of kids take their only bath of the week on Sunday morning.

But when you spend a little more time in the shower, make sure you didn’t miss any spots shaving, and choose to wear the best clothes you got, it means something.

I think they’re onto something. What we wear to church isn’t about our comfort or what “works” for us. We’re entering into the house of the Lord. We could stand to have our worship services look a little more like the veneration before the throne of God in Revelation 7, or the reverence of Levite priests in Leviticus 16. Jewish rabbis often use the phrase, “know before whom you stand.” Dress is a part of that, and we could stand to remember that more often.


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