ChristianPostSecondary.com has been created to help prospective students and their families make informed decisions about which colleges or universities to attend. More specifically, my goal is to encourage Christians to reconsider the purpose of the college experience and the education that stems from it.
As a Christian educator who works as an academic dean at a public college I am frequently asked what schools I recommend. (To learn more about me and my background, visit the About page of this website.) This site was initially started in July of 2014, with the goal of helping prospective college students find a high quality, Christ-centered college or university. In the past, I used to provide a list of institutions based on an analysis of popular national rankings, average net costs, and official graduation rates. But I’ve realized over time that this methodology is profoundly misguided. I now take a decidedly different approach to this question, and this website represents my musings on this new perspective.
Many Christian students, and especially their parents, indicate a preference for attending a Christ-centered post-secondary institution. Often this preference derives from a positive desire to engage with fellow believers and participate in a campus community that is advancing the Kingdom of God. But just as often, the preference for a Christian school stems from a fear that public institutions are dangerous places. The underlying worry is that a young person who attends a secular school will be harmed. He or she will develop a worldly orientation, end up pregnant or addicted to drugs, or possibly even reject their faith entirely.
While negative outcomes are possible, it is important to ask yourself what your goal for college really is. If your goal is to hide out from secular society, to stay away from those who follow the world, then perhaps you can find a Christian school that can be your safe house for four or more years. (I am skeptical of both the virtue and the ultimate success of this goal.) This is not to imply that the appropriate route is to simply attend a less expensive public school and accept whatever’s in fashion among the entering cohort there. Instead, I am suggesting a third, more difficult way. Instead of choosing between a traditional, “safe” Christian school and a hedonistic, party school, perhaps you should look for a place that helps you to become an “inspired, intelligent, engaged” Christian.
Inspired, Intelligent, Engaged
My idea of an inspired, intelligent, engaged Christian is fairly straightforward. A college student who is Inspired is one who is moved by the Spirit of God to think and to act in a way that is very different from the rest of society. This thinking and acting stems from a high view of Scripture. The core of which is a belief that our actions and attitudes should be guided by the teachings of the Bible.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (New Living Translation)
The Intelligent aspect points to the value of testing and demonstrating one’s position using quantitative and qualitative evidence. It is the idea that empirical support for a proposition is more meaningful than a feeling or the popular assumption of the day. To put it briefly, the intelligent person is one who can use quality research in an articulate way to demonstrate her or his point of view.
“In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge,” 2 Peter 1:5 (NLT)
Engagement is the act of making a difference in society. It is where love is shown to others. It is not enough to have faith. It is not enough to know the truth. It is not enough to have these together, one needs love lived out and grounded on faith and truth. Indeed, to be a follower of Christ who is well-educated and yet separated from the world is to be as inconsequential as a cloistered monastic. A growing maturity in Christ, mixed with an expanding understanding of the world should lead to a loving engagement with people.
“If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2 (NLT)
It is important to note that engagement with the world will not be successful from a Christian perspective unless one is both grounded in his or her faith and knowledgeable about the ideas of the day. This three-fold approach to living can take place in any context, whether at a Christian school, a non-religious private college, or a public university. As you read the posts on this website, I challenge you to consider how you might live out an inspired, intelligent, engaged life during your college days. I hope by thinking about this, it will not only help you in your college search, but help you transform into the type of person Jesus wants you to be both during college and after.