Biola students still need church

Despite Biola’s rich spiritual environment, chapels and Bible classes cannot replace the vital function of the church in Christians’ lives.

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Chapel requirements often times lead to students replacing community church with campus chapel. This pattern along with “church-hopping” led students to miss out on essential church benefits. Katie Juranek/ The Chimes

Michelle Hong, Writer

Attending a Christian university with chapel requirements causes many students to overlook church. Although some may not entirely replace church with chapels, they may fall into the habit of “church-hopping:” that is, visiting different churches from week to week inconsistently.

Highly-respected biblical studies professor and mentor, Jonathan Lunde, as well as Torrey Honors Institute professor, Matt Jenson, both agree that although there are parallels and similarities between chapel and church, church is an essential part of life for many reasons.

“The church is a place where everyone gets together. It’s where people from different ages and ethnicities – men and women – from all walks of life meet, whereas college is a place where 18 to 22 year olds get together,” said Jenson.

“You have professors and RD’s, but in the context of the church, you really are given the opportunity, if you choose to become a part of a church that has multi-generations, to be exposed to people who’ve lived life, and you have younger ones who you can get involved in mentoring. That’s absolutely essential,” said Lunde.

Church provides essential fellowship outside campus

Having consistent interactions with others outside of Biola allows for the fellowship with many people with a wide variety of experiences. At Biola, you have peers who study different things; yet in church, there is an opportunity to interact with those who are actually living through different problems and situations. College is simply a four-year context where everyone around you navigates the world under the same academic conditions, which can be a hindrance to bearing witness to the young and being influenced by wiser believers.

“So much of church is teaching one another about God. We worship God together and we tell each other about who God is and testify to God,” said Jenson.

“My dear friend, a woman in her 70’s, has endured a lot in her life, and she can testify God’s reality to me in a way that my peers can’t,” said Jenson.

These interactions impact you in unique ways –– over the course of their life, they have experienced more or less than you have.

“The more students can cultivate real relationships with people outside –– like folks at a local church who don’t really know about Biola life and don’t care about papers but they care about you–– the better it is for them,” said Jenson. “I think that’s really big,”

Becoming an intentional member of the body of the Christ

Not only is it important to interact with multitudes of people, but “within the context of a church, you have a body life that is a bit more intentional than what is usual here on campus,” said Lunde.

Biola is a Christian academic institution that appropriately has discipleship, chapel and bible study opportunities on campus –– but a majority still are required.

“In a church, the desire is to bring into the body the multiple gifts that the Spirit gives to the people of the church to do the ministry of the church. There is a quasi-parallel here for those who want to use the gifts that the Lord has given them to be involved with various ministries. But Biola isn’t the church, it really isn’t,” said Lunde.

Church is a must for college students

While there are many similarities in the functions of the church and the programs at Biola, Biola resides first and foremost in the pedantic context, where the church is in an ecclesial context. Many Biola students casually discount the contrast between the two aspects of Christian fellowship and worship.

“The church’s pastoral team is going to be crafting sermons and bible studies that are geared to the needs of the congregation, and the intentionality of a teaching program is far more fitted to the congregation. The bottom line is that the church gives people a much more intentional context in which to be the body than Biola,” said Lunde.

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