Getting plugged into a local church can be overwhelming in many ways. Especially after watching from a screen for so long, the thought of returning to church in person can feel stressful.
Whether someone is new to the Riverside area, returning after a long hiatus or joining a church for the first time, it is important to remember that there are many people going through similar struggles.
John Montgomery, dean of Spiritual Life, said he and the Spiritual Life staff are here to assist students in finding community with other believers.
“Some of the larger churches, such as Sandals, Harvest, The Grove and Vantage Point have a good representation of CBU students, but we also see students attending many other churches such as Magnolia, Fellowship Baptist, Redeemer, Orangecrest Community and Antioch,” Montgomery said.
With so many churches in the surrounding area, it can be difficult to know which is the best fit.
Claire Miller, senior psychology major, said the most important thing she looks for in a church is community.
“It’s important to have another place with similar aged people around to support you during hard times,” Miller said.
Magnolia church is located across the street from California Baptist University and hosts college nights on Sundays at 7 p.m. This is just one of many churches in the area that caters to college students.
“Personally, not every church has to (cater toward college students), but if they do that’s definitely a huge plus to their surrounding community because, as college students, we are too old for youth groups and too young sometimes for the main services to feel fully included,” Miller said. “That can make you feel like such an outsider in a place where you’re supposed to feel comfortable.”
Trying new churches can be a fun experience to search for the right fit.
Every church has a different style and atmosphere, and it is important to find one that makes you feel at home.
Montgomery said that there are no definitive characteristics that make one church better than another, but that each church is unique in its own way.
“There are so many churches, but differences range in styles of preaching from the pulpit and music to how the churches connect people to each other in groups,” Montgomery said. “What I have observed is that the churches that create a way for believers to connect with each other and the life of the church tend to draw more students.”
Miller echoed this thought and said she believes it is the church’s role to meet the needs of its followers.
“College is a time for self-exploration and finding what you believe in and where you fit in, so finding the right church with the right group is really important and churches might grow their congregations a lot by adapting to the needs of college students specifically,” Miller said.
Alie Minium, junior environmental science major, has been attending Redeemer Baptist Church since January 2021. Like Miller, Minium said one of the main elements she looks for in a church is a strong sense of community.
“I look for a good balance with people who are in the same walk of life as you like college students and people in a different stage of life,” Minium said.
For students looking to get involved in Spiritual Life on campus, SL Night takes place on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the Wallace Theater Lawn.
Also, students can check out the Spiritual Growth Assessment at www.calbaptist.edu/grow.