The Problem with Christian Universities

The Problem with Christian Universities

I knew how many rules I was subjecting myself to when I decided to attend ORU.
Curfews, no drinking, and for a while, nothing less than slacks in class.

I loved it.

I was 18 and ready to conquer the world.
Every chapel was a face-to-face meeting with God surrounded by hundreds of others pointed in the same direction.
I loved my roommate and those that were on my floor.
Classes were challenging, but I was ready to beat them with prayer at the beginning of every hour.

Then somewhere—somehow between freshman and senior year—something changed.
I hated the legalism.
I hated the restrictions (even though by that point I was wearing jeans to class…)
I hated the constant “Christianese”, especially when it was abused.
Chapel was no longer exciting, and I realized that not everyone was pointed in that same direction…

I was mad. And I was ready to be done.

The time had come to graduate. I wiped my hands of that place, and I continued the journey of “working out my own salvation”…without it being forced by someone else.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been wonderful.
The freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want.

Interestingly enough, I have found myself longing for those regimented days—and mainly for the availability of the blatant presence of my Father.

It was easy and accessible and wonderful…even when I was sick of it.

Life after Christian college is a much different world.
And in med school, it can be a stretch to be at one church service every week…let alone campus worship, devotionals, small groups, and all the outreaches that were once a part of everyday life.

No—people weren’t perfect, and neither was the system.
But I always knew where I could walk in and just be swept away without being judged or looked at as weird for soaking in His Presence.

In case you are wondering, no, I still don’t agree with absolutely every decision that was made, whether it was in regards to a student or basic policy.

And yes, we are all burned in these places because it is run by people.

Flawed, prideful, obnoxious….and Forgiven people…just like me.

Realistically, they do a better job than I ever could—and I have a high level of respect for those who have chosen to serve in a low glamour, low income situation such as this…simply because they feel called to do so.

So for those of you in the middle of it, it’s normal to become bored with it.
It’s ok to be ready to move on.

But I would say this…

Soak it up.

Every sweet moment in worship—every time a teacher decides to preach in class and forces you to make up a lecture on your own—every time someone prays out loud—every time you’re required to read the Bible…

It won’t last forever.

Fill up now for those deserts ahead.
There’s a reason that God has placed you in such an oasis.

He knows that somewhere down the road, you’re going to need it.

And if you’re just going to gripe about it the whole time, you always have the option to leave. There are many universities around that have less rules and are less expensive. So always remember it’s your choice to be there…

I learned valuable lessons and gained priceless friendships—many of which walked with me through my frustrations.

It took a while, but I can honestly say that I love ORU.
I loved my time there.
I love what I learned.
I love the people I met.
I would even love for my children to choose to receive their education there.

It really was a good experience because it was exactly where I was supposed to be.

So what was the problem?

What is the problem that so often causes bitterness instead of growth at so many Christian Universities?

The Main Problem with my Christian University at the time was not the university itself.

It wasn’t the administration, the always Hillsong worship, or the rules.

The problem with my Christian University was me.

Comments ( 19 )

  • This is great.

    I was very challenged too, when Poppie said in the middle of class that, “You were prayed for, whether you wanted it or not.” Unrelenting, unselfish prayer. Thanks Poppie.

    After a long summer, we sparsely went to church, but after school started we have gotten back into things. Its amazing how the ebb and flow of life creates such ups and downs in our faith.

    So, after all that, thank you Poppie and Stephanie for helping me realize what was wrong all along, unyielding faith.

    • He said it again today and I love it. Every time.

      I never thought one of my med school professors would help keep me on track like that, either.

  • After you graduate from 3 chapels a week, you miss it. Plain and simple. My chapel services were not required, but they were always packed out and they were always the encouragement/challenge I needed.

    • That’s awesome that it was packed without being required. I’m rather impressed!!!

  • Thanks for sharing this! I definitely agree with you on this topic. There were some things I didn’t like about ORU, but I loved the relationships I built there with teachers who cared about you as a person and life-long friends. Mandatory chapels got old when I was a senior, but it was nice to have that break in the day to forget about classes and worship God.

    • Agreed. And it was nice that EVERYone had to take that break. It wasn’t like you were missing out on studying or some important lecture or some event….good times, even when I didn’t realize it.

  • Dean O

    “And yes, we are all burned in these places because it is run by people.
    Flawed, prideful, obnoxious….and Forgiven people…just like me”

    Beautiful. Well said.

    From one of those flawed, prideful, obnoxious (I could go on) forgiven people.

    • Thank ya, sir. 🙂 It’s a good place to be.

  • Eowyn Whittaker

    I don’t know. ORU was definitely not a spiritual oasis for me. The more spirituality was forced upon me, the more dead my spiritual life became. When I got “out into the world” again, it’s like I had the space to grow spiritually again.

    At ORU it was like I was so bombarded by everyone else’s faith, I had no chance to develop my own any further. And, not being able to grow, it shrank and withered.

    • Yea…and I think we all get to that point where you wonder if you’re really thinking for yourself. But, again, I think it was kind of a necessary step to be firm in what I know it true and what really matters–and a lot of it for me was my attitude.

  • Kara

    I really like this Stephanie, and I totally agree. I love Baylor, especially the experience I had there my freshman year…but I became ungrateful and took the wonderful things at Baylor for granted. Now that I’m in med school and realizing how different life after Christian college is, I miss those days tremendously. I long to be back in that environment, but know that my job as a Christian is to mature in my faith, be challenged, and live in the world. And that’s what med school is. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • And thank you for sharing too! It’s cool to hear that other people have the same experience even coming from a different school.

  • Having been to a Christian college I have many thoughts on this. A friend that I made while there and I have had this discussion many times. We’re actually in the middle of writing a book together on how “real” our faith is and how it applies to the real world. It’s always interesting to try to come to terms with it all.

    • Yep. And everyone’s experience is definitely different, I’d say. Just like life, I suppose.
      How long before your book is done?

      • Yes… every person’s experience with religion is like life… random and different.

        We are hoping to be done by the end of the year, sooner if possible.

  • K.petry

    thanks Stephanie… I read this piece I thought of my daughter and how great it could be if she would choose to go to a God based college…she could bring a bit of her Messianic upbringing into the equation….maybe a year right out of high school would be great….

    • Send her up this way! 🙂 We’d love to have her around, for sure! And I think in a lot of places, she would be able to offer and unique and WANTED perspective. It’s been interesting the connections I’ve made since being in Texas with you guys. Amazing what happens in one summer. Love you all.

  • Steve Laurence

    You teach me…

    • I learned from the best 😉