Tag Archives: Tyler Farr

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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Why you shouldn’t count out accountability charts

BY TYLER FARR

I’ve heard a lot of negative opinions when it comes to accountability charts. You know, the little charts that parents use to make sure that their children brushes their teeth every day by having someone put a sticker on the corresponding day? To many, these charts are considered a way of guilt tripping others into doing certain things.

We started this little scheme earlier this semester on my wing, this time it was for reading your Bible. No one was forced to participate, and we bought a ton of fun stickers. These accountability charts are displayed on the wall right outside my dorm room. So every day I walk by and see who is being consistent and who isn’t.

I have never been very good at reading my Bible since discovering my faith 6 years ago, but I have always wanted to work at getting closer to God through His word. So when we put up the chart, I signed up hoping that peer pressure would remind me to at least read a few verses a day. I know this sounds like the accountability chart that I described above, but really it turned into more of an eye opening experience to me. It isn’t a shame chart, or at least I didn’t take it that way.

The accountability chart was an eye opening experience because I got to see how inconsistent I was, and also see how my wing mates were working on their commitment to read every day with me. I did not feel shammed into reading my Bible every day, I was inspired. I could see the girls who read diligently, giving me a benchmark of where I want to be. I could see the people who, like me, struggled with finding time in the day to commit to reading. I felt more human because I could remember that not everyone is perfect, and everyone that I know is at a different stage of her faith. So no, I would not call the accountability chart a shame chart. Today I would call it inspiration, and every day I hope to call it progress because the more time I spend in His word, the more I will understand and the more that I will grow. So don’t count out the accountability chart just yet, because it could represent a whole lot more than a little bit of shame.

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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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