Let’s be honest and talk a bit about college girls.
They either feel like they’ve got it all together or like their life is a trainwreck - and somehow never in between.
I’ve known them both. I’ve loved them both. And I’ve been both.
As much as the above description was written in jest (well, it is kind of a joke), I was much more often a trainwreck during my college years…a really confused, overly emotional train wreck.
I came to the University of Georgia in August of 1999. I came with what I thought was a fairly good head on my shoulders (it wasn’t nearly as good as I thought), a serious boyfriend that all around me thought would be my husband (that didn’t work out), and just a boatload of sin and heart issues that I was trying to hide from everyone else (news flash - you can’t).
I was lucky enough to get plugged into a campus ministry relatively quickly. I made some friends and had community. I was known by a group of people. Campus ministries are a good thing.
I spent four years at the same campus ministry. I joined leadership and was given an environment where I could be discipled. I went on mission trips and ministered to the homeless and transient of Athens. I made life-long friendships and discovered some strengths that I could bring to the table. I met my husband. These are BIG life-changing experiences and campus ministries foster an environment in which college students can have them.
One of my biggest regrets from my college years? The one that comes back and whispers to me often as I continue through different seasons of womanhood?
I was never plugged into a local church.
Campus ministries often create a bit of a bubble. You are surrounded by believers of the same age (give or take 5 years). You’re most often ALL college students or recent graduates. The grand majority of people there ascribe to similar theological beliefs. You probably all have a similar worship and prayer ‘styles.’ You share the same vocabulary and vernacular. You probably even look fairly similar to one another. It’s a monochromatic and monotone experience….
Please, don’t confuse this as an op-ed against campus ministries. I like campus ministries. I love them. They serve a wonderful purpose. They serve the people of the campus. But, please remember, that local churches exists and they too serve an important (but slightly different) purpose. The local church serves the whole of the community and has the potential to expose you to things that may be a little different - as long as you let it happen.
Christ Community is entering into an exciting season when it comes to college girls (and boys for that matter). We have THREE new staffers who came on to minister to young people (high school, college-aged, post graduation). These three want to help you get plugged into Christ Community.
I can’t think of a better way to tell you about it than to introduce you to these three great people. We will be giving small introductions via the blog to each of these new staff members over the next several weeks.
First up: Elizabeth Baker, Director of College Ministry for Women @ Christ Community.
Elizabeth Baker (EZbake as she is sometimes affectionately referred to) is pretty great. She’s got this peaceful, calm, quirky, and (sometimes) awkward demeanor that immediately makes you comfortable. And she smiles a lot. It’s not forced. It’s straight joy.
She’s the new point of connection for college girls here at Christ Community. Her role as she sees it:
“is to help younger women in our church follow Jesus.” To INVEST in the college-aged women of our church.
That can sound pretty simple, but when Elizabeth expounds on this seemingly simple idea - it comes to encompass a lot. So I’m going to try to break it down.
1) ELIZABETH WANTS TO MEET YOU
She wants to know more than your name, she wants to know who you are. We’ve never been a numbers-focused church - we focus on relationships. Just like our church, Elizabeth wants to live life with you. I think there is something fairly unique going on here.Campus ministries often rely on other students or unpaid interns who also have other responsibilities (not that it is a bad thing), which means that a lot of other life stuff can conflict with meeting and knowing the people they encounter. Elizabeth’s job description is knowing you.
“When I was a freshman, there were women who really poured into me and were patient with me. I am grateful for how they served me and I’m excited to be able to do that...
I’ll walk through that with you. I’ll cry about your break up with you...That’s valuable.”
2) Elizabeth WANTS TO CONNECT YOU
Here’s a big piece of my regret in not being a part of the local church during my college years: connection to others who were not like me. Elizabeth wants to know you, for sure. But she’s not gonna stop there. She wants to get you connected to other women. That doesn’t mean that she’s gonna put you to work in the nursery or connect you to other college-aged gals (although, those things will probably happen). She wants to connect you to other WOMEN. Older women who have lived, and are living, different seasons in their faith. This is priceless. Older women bring wisdom and perspective to a situation that younger women may feel completely lost in. Get connected to a mom and you’ll get to live life with her family - kids and all. This doesn’t mean you have to like babysitting and that kids will always be around - although they will be around a lot... and they will love you, scream your name in excitement on Sundays, and love you with the kind of pure love that only a three year old’s heart can muster.
It also means that you get to see how families who love Jesus function. How marriages function - warts and all. How empty-nesters function. Getting to observe women of all ages in all walks of life is a precious glimpse into the struggles of everyday life, but also God’s heart for you. Elizabeth knows this.
Elizabeth explains, “They show you what following Jesus looks like in ordinary life. Girls feel equipped to graduate and live post grad life knowing that they CAN commit to a church and knowing that they can commit to people and live life with people, even when it’s not always fun. I really learned how to be a family with people… I know what it looks like to commit to people because of the church.”
And you learn that in committing to a church, the church commits to you.
3) SHE WANTS TO EQUIP YOU.
EZBake wants to see you equipped - not just to live life with people, but to show Jesus to people.
She says it best, “I would love to really see more college students who aren’t believers coming to our church or at least having relationships [with college folks in our church]. Equipping our college kids to reach out to people on our campus, seeing more and more people following Jesus because of the [college] folks in our church feel equipped to share the love of Jesus and the Gospel...Yeah, that really excites me. Knowing that no matter where the are going, they are equipped.”
See, Elizabeth won’t leave it at you. She loves you. Already. But she doesn’t want to stop there. Her vision is a bit broader. She wants to help you (college girls) discover the fullness of God’s love for you in a such a way that you can’t help but share that love with the people in your life. All the people that you will ever come to meet and know - that YOU will point them towards Jesus’ love. That’s the whole of it.
So, make it a point to meet Elizabeth this Sunday. I know she’s going to try and make it a point to meet you.