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.