Getting Involved On and Off Campus
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It may seem difficult for students to feel called to engagement off campus, especially when Westmont offers so many great opportunities for faith-building on campus. Through chapel three times a week, Capax Dei, and even certain religious studies courses, there are endless ways to engage with God through life on campus. However, getting off the hill and interacting with various faith organizations and churches can prove to be more beneficial than ever imagined. Research conducted by the 2008 National Survey of Student Engagement demonstrated that students who were more engaged in curricular and cocurricular activities (both on and off campus) not only had significantly higher GPAs than students who did not, but they also had a better view of the aca- demic experience overall (Webber, Karen L., Krylow, Rebecca B., and Zhang, Qin. “Does involvement really matter? Indicators of college studentsuccessandsatisfaction.” Journal of College Student Devel- opment 54.6 (2013): 591-611.). Regardless of your personal denomination, there are high chances that there is a place for you in a faith community off campus.
Reality Carpentaria welcomes college students to abide with God and fellow worshipers “in its brand-new ministry aimed at college students this past Friday. Their brand-new ministry is called Abide, and will allow college students a place to deepen their faith and meet other young adults. At their first meeting, Dominic Balli led students in a stripped-down worship before and after the message, which was delivered by Beau Bekendam. In the coming weeks, Bekendam’s sermons will focus on the book of Leviticus and take an in-depth look about what it means to be called by God.
In addition to Reality’s Abide ministry, there are several other options for students looking to get involved in a local college group. Santa Barbara Commu- nity Church’s college group, the Mill, takes place every other Sunday between the church’s two morning services. Students gather for brunch as a college-aged community and then attend either the 8:45 or 11AM regular church services.
Westmont’s neighbor on La Paz Road, Montecito Covenant, doesn’t officially offer a college ministry. However, pastors Jon Lemmond and Anna Beebe of- ten enjoy meeting Westmont students for lunch in the DC on Tuesdays from 11:45 to 1PM.
Calvary Chapel Santa Bar- bara offers young adults and college-aged students a place called the Gathering. It is a ministry designed to “help a generation discover and desire Jesus Christ.” It convenes every Friday at 7PM in the chapel’s high school room for worship, prayer, food, and fellowship.
Oceanhills Church does not offer any formal ministries di- rected at college students, but it does offer many opportunities for young adults to get involved. For example, they do offer com- munity groups that run through- out the school year, and they are open to all members of the com- munity--college students includ- ed. The same is true for Free Methodist Church, and other churches in the area.In addition, Convergence is a worship service focused on merging the traditional with the contemporary, and it is hosted by the First Congregational Church of Santa Barbara. It happens ev- ery 3rd Wednesday at 7PM and is in collaboration with Spectrum Ministries.
With copious amounts of college ministry groups in and around the Santa Barbara area, there are enough opportunities for Westmont students looking to get involved with a group outside of the “Westmont bubble.” Besides structured and non-structured interactions with local churches, students can get involved with Young Life, a min- istry that brings the love of God into middle and high schools throughout the nation. Students can also get involved off campus and meet new people through Urban Initiative programs, such as Bread of Life, Conversation Café, East Side Kids Club, Jesus Burgers, Street Health Outreach, and Training C.A.M.P.
Students have many opportunities to get involved outside of campus at their fingertips; it is encouraged to check out one of these options, or go to your church’s website for more information on specific events.