Walking into a church building for the first-time can intimidate first visitors. This common dilemma daunts many college freshmen as they try to find a church to call home.
The Guinness Book of World Records previously awarded Siloam Springs, Arkansas the Most Churches per Capita record, but first-year students still struggle with finding a church to call home. During orientation, students were assigned a church to attend with their orientation group, as a starting block for their church hunt.
Students have a variety of different responses to the churches they have visited. The small sizes of the local churches surprised Hannah Frazier, freshman photography major. Frazier lived in Tyler, Texas, where she attended a church of approximately 500 members, which is significantly larger than most church bodies in Siloam Springs.
“It made me feel uncomfortable because I felt more visible to everyone and I like to blend in,” Frazier said.
Shelby Reynolds, freshman international business major, found the transition difficult as well. She said she misses the comfort of going to her church at home, and she hasn’t found a place that makes her feel welcomed yet.
Hannah Averitt, sophomore accounting major, has successfully found a church home. She recalled the difficultly she experienced last year with finding a church that made her feel welcome.
“I didn’t like having church not be a place that was comfortable. I decided in October to stay at Siloam Bible. The way I think of it is that you can shop churches forever, but eventually you just need to decide,” Averitt said.
The different worship styles at local churches offered a new experience for Reynolds. She said she isn’t used to singing traditional hymns, and Frazier said the worship has been much quieter than she likes.
Although Averitt didn’t make worship her biggest priority when looking for a church she looked for a church with theologically correct songs. She said when the worship service sounds quieter than what she likes, she reflects more on the words.
The pastor and the content of the preaching are the biggest priority for Averitt. Averitt said, her father taught in an expositional style which inspired her to find a preacher who teaches in the same way.
“If I feel like if the word is being preached, then everything else will work out,” Averitt said. “To me there’s nothing more powerful than God’s word being opened and the doctrine of God’s word being taught.”
Reynolds said she desires a spirit filled church body that teaches her spiritual truths she can apply to her life. At her previous church, she had several adult mentors who brought her closer to God, and she said she misses that growing experience.
Frazier hopes to find quality fellowship, biblical teaching, and a welcoming atmosphere. She wants to find a church that makes her feel comfortable enough to worship fully.
In addition to sound doctrine, Averitt searched for a church body that invests itself in the community. Since the church supported missionaries and their own Sunday school groups, she knew she had found the right church.
Students’ spiritual lives are affected by not becoming involved in a church. Reynolds misses her adult mentors that supported her spiritually. Frazier echoes Reynolds in saying that she feels deprived of fellowship with other believers.
“It just takes time to build relationships,” Reynolds said. With time, Reynolds believes she can find a supportive, loving church home for her college years.
Freshman struggle to find new church