In 1996, I had the privilege of being the founding pastor of Hope Community Church, which we purposely started right by the University of Minnesota. I was told not to do this as college students are very transient and do not have any financial resources to help fund the ministry of a new church.
What made us do this in spite of the challenges? I can think of at least four reasons:
First, the very first disciples of Jesus were most likely of college age. Jesus began his ministry at the age of 30, and disciples of teachers in that culture were usually a bit younger than their teacher. In addition, if you look at how long some of the disciples lived (John probably lived 60+ years after Jesus resurrection), that would mean that most likely they were in their 20s as they followed Jesus and started the new revolution of the church.
Second, throughout history, God has used young people to start movements that have shaped our world. Some of these include Cru, YWAM, and the Jesus People Movement in the 1970s. If we go further back in history, John Calvin was 22 when he wrote the Institutes of the Christian Religion, George Whitefield started preaching at age 21, and the Welsh Revival of 1904 began when Evan Roberts, age 26, a college student, started preaching in his home church This lead to a revival in which 100,000 people were converted in five months throughout Wales
Third, college is the pinnacle of time when we are trying to understand who we are, what we believe, and what we are going to do with the rest of our lives. It is one of the most important intersections of time to consider the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And lastly, college was the time in my life when I became a follower of Jesus, and it changed everything for me! I simply wanted (and still want!) to see people’s lives transformed by Christ the way he met me in the Springtime of my freshman year.
So, college students, we love you! If you are new freshman this year, or a new to Hope we really want to welcome you, and let you know how important you are!
Excited to see the next generation of impact players for Jesus,