Editor's note: This story first appeared in the fall 2019 issue of the Concordian, the official magazine of Concordia University Wisconsin.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
If you went to Concordia or to a Christian college some years ago, maybe you know the term “dorm chaplain.” Dorm chaplains were students who held evening devotions or organized Bible studies, and many or most (or all, in days when it might have been mandatory) students joined in. Today’s college students are often from a wider spectrum of faith backgrounds and the old idea of how to foster faith in the residence halls doesn’t work quite the same.
Enter faith associates.
While I, along with some great colleagues, am blessed to serve the students, it is often fellow students who are best able to approach faith issues with their peers. In fact, a student survey from a couple of years ago told us just that: Students who had doubts or questions about faith sometimes felt most comfortable addressing them (at least initially) with their peers.
So now CUW is in its third year of having a number of faith associates placed in the residence halls. Eight students—four males and four females—have been trained to be faith associates this year. In partnership with Student Life, they are placed in the residence halls where the most freshmen live.
Their role is to help students acclimate to Concordia and especially integrate into the vibrant faith community. Some students are so well versed in church and faith that they simply want to be pointed in the right direction to faith activities, and they’re ready to join in. Others are starting from square one. Sometimes eliminating misconceptions about faith and God takes some friendship and walking alongside to build up trust. Believe it or not, some people find even the friendliest and kindest of Christians as “intimidating” or less than approachable.
Many on campus devote time and energy to drawing others into the fellowship of faith. Our faith associates simply help lead the way into our winsome witness.
Rev. Steve Smith
The fall 2019 Concordian hit mailboxes the end of September. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, call 262-243-4333.
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