Reflecting on my Experience with Christians on Campus

Christians on Campus UT Austin

In a sense we’re all Timothys. We learn from those who are ahead of us- our spiritual fathers and pioneers in the journey we’re on. We are inheritors, and we have a debt of gratitude to pay off. I am especially indebted to the people from Christians on Campus at the University of Texas for the experiences that have shaped my faith and guided me in my pursuit of Christ and the church.

Christians on Campus is a startlingly vibrant and eclectic group of Jesus lovers who truly believe “what starts here changes the world.” They present diverse and dynamic opportunities for students to grow spiritually through eye-opening Bible study, daily fellowship, engaging outreach, and living in community. This certainly was my first impression of them as a freshman.

Why you Need to Join a Christian Club in College

College for many people can be compared to the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment was a radical change of the established order of things in the Middle Ages. In the same way, college is a time of profound change for people. It opens up new ways of thinking, new standards, and new pursuits. Often times, these changes challenge the norms instilled by their parents.

New experiences, however, don’t have to be bad. For me, experiencing the joys of following Jesus Christ and discovering the Body of Christ, the community of faith, replaced the need to party or be popular.

Christians on Campus provided just the venue I needed to thrive during my transition from high school to college- a house to house church life.

Meeting Christians on Campus

My universe rapidly expanded when I arrived in Austin.

I had never moved before- not to a new city, not to a new house, not even to a new room. My gregarious soul had been confined to a small room in an underappreciated suburban town called Irving. UT couldn’t have been a better fit for me. A semi-urban campus crammed right next to downtown with a bulging student body of 50,000 people.

I quickly realized though that sheer size wasn’t what I was looking for. My freshman chemistry class had 300 plus kids in it, I turned in my homework online, and the professor spoke with a microphone. How impersonal! I was determined to meet people.

A high school friend of mine introduced me to Christians on Campus.

He was a year older than me and had met with the club his freshman year. He took me to a welcome dinner the club was having the first week of classes. The room was packed with bright-eyed freshmen, like myself, who were looking to get connected.

I grabbed a few slices of pizza (welcome to college, right?), we sang a few classic hymns, and then listened to a short sermon on the importance of having friends who will do whatever it takes to bring you to Jesus. Even dig through a stranger’s roof (Mark 2:1-5)!

A Home Away from Home

It was announced that dessert would be held in a few different homes in the community.

I’m glad I braved the unknown. What happened in the next 2 hours would turn out defining my college experience. I jumped in the car with three guys I had just met and headed down to South Austin for dessert.

To make a long story short, I ended up really connecting with the family that hosted the dessert. Bill (the dad) was an architectural engineer, a drummer, and loved coffee. I was majoring in architectural engineering and had played the drums in high school. They had a son and daughter close to my age. They were funny, design-savvy, and had a huge heart. Step aside UT, here was the match I was looking for. I ended up going to their home with some guys from Christians on Campus pretty much every Monday night for dinner, homework help, and spiritual community.

Discovering this home was like finding the Rosetta Stone. It became the reference point for understanding what my Christian life was supposed to mean.

The manger, the dove, and the cross were fascinating yet unintelligible hieroglyphics to me. How do these translate into meaningful realities for a freshman in college trying to face the struggles of campus life? I didn’t want these to remain undecipherable. These were symbols that I had grown up around but now they were interpreted, extruded, given flesh, and lived out right before my eyes. Every Monday night I made new discoveries.

I found out who Jesus is and what the church is. I found out how to experience what I’ve read in the Bible and what following Jesus looks like.

Now I understand why the early church lived together day by day and house to house. It wasn’t because Christianity was a persecuted and plebeian movement that couldn’t afford large churches.

It’s because Christianity is about people and relationships, not just about mastering concepts.

It’s because that is where these concepts come alive and are lived out.

It’s because the people are the church, and where the real building takes place is where those people live.

As the apostle Paul beautifully put it, “In whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord (Eph. 2:21).” This is exactly what Bill and Cathy’s home became to me, and ten years down the road, their pattern and my experience with Christians on Campus still guides me today.

But you, continue in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing from which ones you have learned them.

–2 Tim 3:14

What was your experience as a Christian in college?

46 thoughts on “Reflecting on my Experience with Christians on Campus

    • It really was. That was a theme verse for me. It propelled my experience of church beyond the four walls of brick and mortar. I realized that if I just show up for a meeting, slap a few backs, listen to a sermon, and then go home, I am severely missing the point of church. The church is a building both as noun and verb. I’ve found that the process of building (verb) most readily happens in the place where we conduct our life.

  1. I really enjoyed your blog post, Kyle. Your experience reminded me of my own when I was a freshman. I was certainly searching for an enlightenment, actually more like a recalibration to the meaning of my human life. I was also searching for direction.

    Your mentioning of the Rosetta Stone is right on target. I was looking for the reference point that I could always go back to. Could you elaborate more on the historical significance of the Rosetta Stone? Also, what exactly was the pattern that you witnessed from Bill and Cathy? Was it their diligence to go to church meetings, or their faithful study of the Bible? Or something else?

    • What struck me the most about Bill and Cathy was how they lived their life, in the most natural way, in total congruence with God’s economy. There was nothing spectacular at first glance. No epic Bible studies or pentecostal showers. And yet every time I left I just had this sense that I had gained more of Christ. Kinda like when you stay out in the sun too long and aren’t aware of how much of a sunburn you’ve gotten until the next day.

      • I like your illustration of the sunburn. It’s just hard when oftentimes I’m looking for fireworks, extraordinary happenings, to take place in my Christian life. But your explanation reminds me of how normal and human it is to be Christians living on this earth. Actually such living is well-described by the term “God-man” — how we possess both the divine characteristic because we have God in us AND the human characteristic because we are created humans.

        I found out that Anselm of Canterbury had written about Christ being the God-man in the Middle Ages. But isn’t it true that because Christ lives in us, we would live the same God-man living on the earth today?

        • I once heard a message on the characteristics of God’s life working in us. It helped me tremendously. The basic thought was: life is slow, daily, small, hidden, and mysterious. I too am learning to value organic repetition over spectacular anomalies.

          Agreed. I have Anselm’s book, Why God became Man. Although he is mostly known for his ontological argument for God’s necessary existence, his use of the term God-man is certainly striking. Paul certainly understood his experience as “living Christ.”

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  3. Great post! This matches my experience. I found christians on campus and discovered genuine believers who encouraged me and helped me to grow. Very happy that I was able to avoid “cultural Christianity” by meeting with other students who desired to follow the admonishing words in 2 Timothy 2:22, “flee…and pursue.”

  4. What a great testimony of getting connected to Christians upon entering college. I totally know what you mean about the “Enlightenment”. It’s amazing how once we enter college there are so many things that can take our life in different directions, and away from Christ. I am so glad you got connected to a Christian family that could be a pattern and ground you in your faith in college. Thanks!

    • Thanks. One day on campus I was reading the Gospel of Matthew with a brother in Christ and we came across this verse, “Go therefore to the crossroads, and as many as you find call to the wedding feast (22:9).” It was that time between classes where campus is teeming with students headed to their next class. The brother turned around and pointed to an intersection and said, College is the crossroads. It left a deep impression on me. Often, the path we choose in college directs us for life.

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience! It’s always encouraging to be reminded that Christians can and do make real differences in peoples’ lives. And they don’t always have to be full-time ministers to do so. I’m glad that you described how simply entering into the life of this family gave you guidance for the future. This should encourage all of us out there that our labor, from the kitchen to the podium, from the coffee cup we hand to someone to the word we share with another, is not in vain. 1 Cor 15:58.

    This also reminds me of Matt 5:16
    “Let your light shine before men so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in the heavens.”

    • Thanks Merrill. I couldn’t have put it better- “from the kitchen to the podium.” Most Christians will never deliver a sermon to a large congregation, but this doesn’t negate their role in shaping and shepherding younger Christians around them. Besides more people hang out around kitchens then around podiums.

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  7. Loved this quote, “…because Christianity is about people and relationships,…”

    The benefit from being a part of Christians on Campus doesn’t end after college. I was a part of a closely related club, Christian Students, at the University of Washington and being in the homes of supporting Christians in the community provided me a glimpse into what I wanted my future and my family to look like.

    The relationships fostered by this club will last for eternity. Thanks for the reflections Kyle. It gave me a chance to reminisce my own memories of being with strong Christian role models when I was in University. Great writing Kyle… I need to read your articles more regularly ;)

  8. I’m loving this quote.

    “I found out who Jesus is and what the church is. I found out how to experience what I’ve read in the Bible and what following Jesus looks like. Now I understand why the early church lived together day by day and house to house.”

    How thankful I am to have had a similar experience in college! Christians on Campus helped make Christianity real to me. Without the discipleship I experienced in CoC, and the relationships I built among the other believers there, the Lord may have always remained distant and historical at best to me. However, “day by day and house to house” with Christians on Campus brought me into a real relationship with Jesus, and the members of His Body, that has changed the landscape of my Christian life forever.

    Do you know of sister Christian On Campus groups at other universities?

    • Great to hear Chris. I’m glad you had such a life changing experience. Yes, there are a number of other Christian on Campus groups around the country.

  9. Hey Kyle – I was glad to read that the Christian life is not about mastering concepts, but about people and relationships. God desires a group of people who are related and built up together in His divine life. Thanks for writing!

  10. Kyle, I really enjoyed reading your experience of coming to UT and finding a home that perfectly matched your need not only spiritually, but also practically. This also happened to me. When I first came to UT from the east coast, I needed to work to earn my in-state residency. I found this job in a doctor’s office but had zero experience in this field. My roommate met with Christians on Campus and brought me along with her to a home she met in on a weekly basis. The wife of this couple happened to be a doctor who lived really close to my new workplace. So not only did she give me cram sessions on medical insurance billing, but she also let me spend the night at her home on nights when I worked two days in a row so I wouldn’t have to commute. This experience in a home my freshmen year left a huge impression on me and was a entrance for me in finding the deeper meaning of my Christian life in college.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • God is so good at being God, right? He arranges exactly what we need. The only problem is we, don’t always recognize it as what we need when things don’t turn out so “perfect.” I think God gives special grace to 18 year-olds.

  11. It’s really sweet to see experience like this. May the Lord continue to grow and penetrate in our hearts. Thank you Christians on Campus for bring Christ to students on campus.

  12. Praiiiiise the Lord! Christ is our reality!! This is exactly what i thought when I met the true Church life. I just thought to myself, if everyone could see the real Christ, then who can deny his true power and love? The Church truly provides the real, genuine unleavened Christ. Your testimony is inspiring and truly lovely in all aspects. May the Lord bless you and keep you strong.

    • Thanks. Reality and community converging is what everyone is looking for. It’s amazing how inconspicuous and totally normal it is when you find it. A perfect fit- like we were made for it. Priest collars, pews, and organs just don’t seem a part of the equation.

  13. I really liked what you said that Christianity is about people and relationships and that the people are the church. Also, I appreciated you mentioning that the way the early Christians met day to day house to house. By the way, what did you mean by “Discovering this home was like finding the Rosetta Stone?” May the Lord continue to bring us back to the way the early Christians met; day to day and house to house. :)

    • A number of people have asked about the Rosetta Stone, so here goes the explanation:

      The Rosetta Stone was the key to interpreting Egyptian hieroglyphics. Before they discovered it, they had no idea what all those little symbols meant. The Rosetta stone had the same text in hieroglyphic, Demotic, and Greek.

      My hieroglyphics were the manger, the dove, and the cross. I’m making the point that it’s easy to not really understand what these things really mean to people when you grow up around it your whole life. I need the same thing in another language to understand it. My Rosetta Stone was Bill and Cahty’s home. Things that were just doctrines to me were lived out right before my eyes. This is why “doing life together” is so important. It prevents things from remaining unintelligible or purely mental.

  14. This has been my experince as well!! I have been with this club for 6 years now and I am really getting to know the Lord everyday. This group has really brought me closer to the Lord!!

  15. Praise the Lord bro! I really appreciate that early Christianity was “day by day” and “house to house.” It’s not just a meeting once every week, but it was a true living; this should be the case with us today. Meeting with Christians on Campus has slowly helped me make this a reality in my life.

  16. Hey Kyle, I also had a similar experience with the Home Away from Home. Getting into other believers homes and meeting their families. It just makes you feel like you’re at home even though you are in a different city. You really feel nourished and cared for.

  17. Kyle, I just finished school at the University of Georgia in Athens and my experience with Christian Students at UGA (I think it’s very similar to Christians on Campus at UT) was very similar! When I first came as a freshman, my universe definitely expanded, but ever since I started meeting with the club, Christ started expanding in my heart. I cannot deny that since I’ve been here meeting day by day, the families here have cared for me like I was their own child. I can’t really put into words the care I have received over the years here. Definitely a home away from home! Glad there are others who enjoy the same experience.

  18. Beautifully written blog, Kyle. It made me feel so happy to hear about the sweet experience you had as a freshman while meeting just one caring Christian family through Christians on Campus at UT. We have opened our home on Friday nights to students from GSU through Christian Students here in Atlanta for about eight years. It has enriched our life immensely to know them and watch them grow in Christ as they sing to the Lord with their spirits and are enlightened in HIs Word each week. My husband and I wouldn’t trade these times for anything.

    • Thank you Kathleen. Hearing the other side of the story is just as encouraging! I know I wasn’t always the easiest college student to have over, but Bill and Cathy were always so caring, good-humored, and full of Christ. We really just became a part of their biorhythms, which was probably the most shepherding thing for me. I’m sure y’all are changing a lot of impressionable college students’ lives.

  19. Kyle, I really enjoyed reading your experience. It is very encouraging that you found so much help by just being in a normal Christian family home on a regular basis. I hope my husband and I can have such a positive impact on other college students in our area. Thankfully we are currently living in Athens, GA where there is a sister club to yours – Christian Students at UGA. We are expecting our first baby in two months now and the thought of being more limited and possibly confined to home more than before can be daunting. Yet, it is so wonderful that the Christian life is day by day and house to house and I can just be a mom with an open home for others to hopefully “get a little sun” from the Christ that is within us :)

    • There may be more “sun” with a baby in the house. I knew some people who always felt so taken care of just by playing with other people’s kids. Besides sometimes the mess just nourishes people. Spotless and tidy houses are overrated. I’m sure y’all will be great!

  20. Awesome! Makes me want to have more students in my home. I was especially encouraged to hear your testimony of how the family’s humanity met your humanity. Sometimes I think I have to be spiritual superstar to take care of others, but lots of time we just need someone we feel can relate to us, so we can open up to them and get the care we need.

    • I always remember this quaint definition of God’s economy I heard once- a sweet dispensing, an intimate stewardship, and a comfortable household arrangement. Sweet, intimate, and comfortable- sounds like the home I was in. If you don’t feel comfortable with someone, you probably can’t receive that much help from them. This is another reason that I think so much can happen in Christians’ homes that is just impossible in traditional church buildings.

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