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Spiritual Formation in
Campus Community

by Kristy Morgan, Ph.D.

Over the past few years, Eugene Peterson’s version of Romans 12 recorded in The Message Bible has been my prayer for LETU students. The first verse will give you a glimpse of how Paul instructs the church to become spiritually mature.

“So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”

As Vice President for Student Affairs at LETU, I have a role in shaping many aspects of a student’s sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life on campus. I am often asked by parents if I am the campus Cruise Director, and I am pleased when students refer to Student Life as the people who make the “fun stuff” happen on campus. But my true desire is to ensure that LETU fosters and encourages a community in which students can take their ordinary lives, place them before God, and embrace what God does with them, knowing that in doing this, their hearts and minds will be transformed to reflect the heart and mind of God.

Spiritual formation is enhanced in the context of community. The campus as a whole, and residence halls in particular, are intentional communities designed to support and nurture the spiritual formation of students. These communities provide safety and security, friendship, the opportunity to be known and belong, and activities to nurture mind, body, and soul. These communities also provide the opportunity for students to experience and resolve conflicts in low-risk environments with supportive staff and peers. They provide safe spaces to experience hardships and receive encouraging words and role modeling from other students that have endured similar hardships and survived. They provide the opportunity to live life with other students and staff who take seriously the call to place their lives before God, and embrace what God does with them.

Many of our students come to campus with painful pasts, and some experience difficult circumstances while in college that cause them to question who God is and what He may be doing in their lives. The college years are a time of major developmental challenges and significant relational transitions. Add to that the pressure that students feel to determine the course for the rest of their lives, and one can see quickly that college is a stressful time for many students.

LETU strives to be a healing community in which the pains and fears of students can be expressed, and where students will find relational connections that help them heal from those pains and fears. These connections may be found in a mentoring relationship with a supervisor, a counseling session with a therapist, a small-group Bible study, a conversation with a faculty member, or discussions over dinner with friends. In all of these connections, our goal is to point students to the deep love and power of Christ to redeem even the most difficult parts of their lives.

Spiritual formation is a Spirit-led work in which our hearts and minds are transformed to reflect the heart and mind of Christ. We know that many students make the decision to attend LETU based on a particular program they want to study or an occupational outcome they hope to attain. But we also know that the most profound outcome of their LETU experience will likely be the spiritual formation that occurs through participation in the LETU community. We count it a blessing to live and work alongside students as we all learn to embrace what God does for us. As Paul instructed the church in Romans, it is the best thing we can do for Him.