As a senior in high school, when people asked me why I chose Dordt, I usually gave them an answer along the lines of “the academics,” “the scholarships,” “the Reformed perspective,” etcetera, etcetera. These are all quite true, and quite valid.
If someone asked me today why I go to Dordt, my answer would include something that I wish I had thought more seriously about when I was in high school: a church. Thankfully, the Lord provided.
So, why do I go to Dordt?
Well, thank you for asking. Because here at Dordt, not only do I have a great school, but here in Sioux Center, I have a wonderful church—a body of believers that has become my church-home-away-from-home.
When I came to Sioux Center, I first entered the doors of the United Reformed Church on the recommendation of a friend, by myself, and twenty minutes after the service has started (the Google Maps directions were NOT helpful).
I must have looked a little bit pitiful that first week, because a kind lady handed me her bulletin as I tried to quietly find a seat in the back row. After the service I was greeted by a few people, but as I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t see any college students that I recognized, I soon left.
I could have kept coming to church and leaving soon after. Why didn’t I? I met some other students who told me some of the ways I could be involved in the church: fellowship groups, host families, Sunday School, and even church nursery. Beyond that, some of the members of the congregation learned my name and worked to get to know me. They reached out to help me be a part of the church.
In my first semester I learned that becoming part of a church was a two-way deal: the church needs to reach out to you, and you need to reach out to the church. The URC, like so many churches in town, has many friendly members and programs for college students, but it takes some commitment from the college students to take advantage of these programs and to develop real friendships with people in the church.
Even though there were people encouraging and helping me, getting to the point of feeling at home at the Sioux Center URC was not easy. For weeks I was discouraged that no one really knew me, and that every conversation I had was a little bit awkward. It was hard not to have the same levels of friendship that I had at my church in Colorado. But it was worth it to push through the awkwardness and even the loneliness of some weeks.
Why was this so important to me? Because going to church to hear sermons is only a small part of participating in the body of Christ. In the church, more uniquely than any other setting, we have a gathering of believers that are meant to build each other up through teaching, worship, and fellowship. In this setting we can learn from and become friends with believers of all different ages.
I have heard students say, “I am only in college for four years, so it’s not really worth it to me to get to know a congregation.” I would flip that around: we are here for four years! That is way too long to fast from the fellowship and growth that comes from being a part of a body of believers of all ages, not just other college students. (Although college students too; that was where I met some of my best friends and now roommates!)
So, why am I sharing this? To convince you that finding a church while at college—and at any time or stage in life—is important, and a blessing! I found this to be true at the URC, but there are so many churches in Sioux Center that have welcomed college students and been there homes for years. You may need to visit a few different churches, but trust me, it’s worth it, and it’s important.