9 Ways God Can Impact You on a Retreat

Christian retreats. If you’re involved in an Ignite group on your campus, you’ve likely been invited to attend a retreat.

Between classes, school work, and holding down a job, it can seem impossible to carve out time to attend a weekend retreat — especially if you’ve never been on before.

Retreats are an essential part of developing your faith, and a time when you can encounter God in a new and fresh way.

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5 Practical Ways to be Ready for the New Year

A new year is right around the corner, and with it often comes a sudden urge to change.

Resolutions are made.
Goals are set.
Gym memberships are purchased.
Life plans are written down.

The promise of a clean slate is a powerful motivator.

But how do you set the right goals? How do you make the right resolutions? What life plans should you pursue in the new year? How do you get ready to tackle a new year and do so in a way that you can stick to your new goals?

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5 Reasons Why You Should Attend a Retreat

Every semester, Ignite hosts the Encounter Retreat – giving students the opportunity to get off campus, disconnect from school, and reconnect with God.

We design each retreat with one main goal: for students to have a genuine encounter with God. Retreats are powerful and a necessary practice for building your faith, growing closer to God and to other Christians. We believe in the power of retreats so much that we put a lot of time, energy, and resources into our retreats.

But why are retreats so important and, better yet, why should you attend a retreat? Here are our top 5 reasons:

1. You Encounter God

If you take an entire weekend to focus yourself on seeking God, you will have some kind of encounter with Him – be it an overwhelming sense of His presence, clarity on an issue in your life, receiving a life call, encouragement or challenge to reach out more, even healing for the wounds in your life. And as we say in Ignite – one encounter with God can change your life.

2. You Grow Closer to Others

Lock yourself away at a retreat center for a few days with other Christians and you will come back with some new and deeper friendships. In the midst of meals together, sharing a bathroom, playing games, worshipping, praying, discussing, and eating snacks you get to know more about the people on the retreat – in a way you never could just at school.

3. Your Priorities are Straightened Out

Our priorities often get out of whack. We tend to place more importance on grades, work, organizations we’re involved in and forget our main priority – growing closer to God. When you put aside everything else to focus on God, your life suddenly comes back into alignment and the amazing happens – God gives you everything you need. After all, when you seek Him first, everything else will be given to you (Matthew 6).

4. You Come Back Recharged

School can be exhausting, especially with papers to write, books to read, math problems to solve, not to mention roommate issues and finding ways to make cafeteria food taste good. Taking a weekend off campus away from the homework and stresses of school is relaxing – and often what you need to be recharged and energized for the rest of the semester.

5. You are Energized to Reach Your Campus

Let’s face it – school has a way of overwhelming you, stealing your time, attention, and desire to reach others for Christ. Attending a retreat will help energize you again for reaching the lost – and put a fire in you to see it happen.

These are just five of the many reasons why attending a retreat is important for your spiritual growth. Getting away, disconnecting from life, and reconnecting to God is necessary to becoming the person God has called you to be.

Take the step today – register for our next Encounter Retreat. You won’t regret it. We promise.

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8 Steps to Find a Local Church When in College

Trying to find a local church to attend while you’re away at college can often be difficult.

Most churches probably aren’t advertising on campus, you might not find an active Christian group at your school or, if you do, you might not be able to attend right away, and finding other students willing to get up on a Sunday morning to go to church can often be near impossible.

It’s important for your faith and your walk with Christ to get involved in a local church, but how do you find the right one?

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5 Tips to Thrive in Your Faith the First Week of College

Millions of students around the country will venture off this week (or some week very soon) to college. They will pack their bags, make the journey to the college they chose, and settle in for an amazing adventure. It will be an exciting, scary, sad, and exhilarating week.

But the first week of college also holds some pitfalls.

Statistically, 60-80% of incoming college freshmen who were actively involved in a Christian youth group during high school will walk away from their faith, many in this first week. That’s alarming.

Tips to Thrive

So how do you avoid being one of those statistics? Here are a few tips to thrive in your faith on campus:

  1. Get Involved in a Christian Group on Campus You might have to do some digging to find one, but most college campuses have at least one Christian organization on campus. It will help you connect with other believers, build friendships, and continue actively pursuing God. Can’t find a group? Consider starting an Ignite group on your campus! Contact us to learn more.
  2. Spend Time with God Daily Being on your own for the first time can be overwhelming. Make sure you set aside time every day to spend with God. The pull to get involved with everything on campus will be strong – and try to eat up any time you have to pursue Christ. Schedule your time, especially during the first week when you’re trying to figure out your schedule.
  3. Be Careful Who You Spend Time With Typically, within the first month, you will have started the friendships that will carry you through your college career. Choose wisely. There may be some lonely moments if you choose not to drink and party, but the people you surround yourself with will be an indicator of who you become. Who do you want to become?
  4. Get Involved Find organizations on campus you’re interested in, and get involved! Like to write? Join the newspaper. Like to plan events? Join the student programming association. Gifted to lead? Run for student body or dorm leadership. Like sports? Join a team or play in intramural leagues. Getting involved in activities you like will help you meet new people and enjoy your time at college.
  5. Be Yourself The temptation will be strong, especially during the first week, to do whatever it takes to fit in. Don’t give in. Be yourself and you’ll find those people who like you for who you are, not who you pretend to be. Trust me, it will save you a lot of heartache and pain later if you learn to just be yourself and not worry if people don’t like you.

These 5 tips will help you to not only survive your first week of college with your faith in tact, but also to thrive. Getting involved in a Christian organization as soon as possible will help your faith grow as you surround yourself with other believers and reach out to those who don’t know Him.

Resources to Help You Grow

Looking for ways to grow your faith while in college? Check out our resources section for a number of devotions, how-to manuals, and more all designed to help you passionately pursue Christ and transform your college campus for Him.

What other ways can you thrive the first week of school?

Background photo credit: Sewanee: The University of the South via photopin cc

Starting New Chapters

This past weekend, a number of Ignite Monmouth members walked across the front lawn of Monmouth College for the last time. Amid the clapping and picture taking, tears and goodbyes, these former students are now college graduates.

They started a whole new chapter in their lives.

They said goodbye to the place they called home for four years, to venture out into the unknown.
They are leaving dorm rooms for apartments.
Cafeterias for kitchens.
School work for desk work.
And security for the hope of employment.

A new chapter has begun.

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10 Tips for Coping with Finals Stress

Finals are upon us, which means as a student you’re probably experiencing an increased level of stress trying to wrap up your projects and study for your exams. While increased levels of stress are normal this time of year, we have put together some strategies you can use to decrease the stress that studying and test-taking can cause, as well as some tips for coping with the stress that you may experience.

  1. Pray. There is power in prayer. Now, prayer isn’t a cop-out. Staying up all night to play video games and asking God to help you do well on your final the next day probably isn’t going to work. But if you put in the work of studying, and ask God to help you remember what you studied and to calm your nerves, He will help. Start with prayer. It makes everything else go better.
  2. Take a breath. Finals can be overwhelming, especially when you allow your brain to run 100 miles an hour. It seems simple, but a few deep breathes can do wonders for slowing down your mind and calming your nerves.
  3. Make a list. Write down everything you need to do—studying, laundry, sleep, papers to write—and cross items off when you’ve accomplished them. Sometimes just having the overall view of everything you need to do can help alleviate your stress. Plus, you’re less likely to forget an assignment when it’s written down.
  4. Create a study schedule. There will be some exams you need extra time to study for, and others you won’t need to study nearly as much. Make a schedule of your week, when you can study, when you need to sleep and eat, and plug in what exam you need to study for. It will help you feel less overwhelmed.
  5. Get some sleep. Contrary to popular belief, pulling an all-nighter will NOT help you do better on your exam. When you’re tired and run down, your brain doesn’t function at full capacity—meaning you’re going into the exam with less brain power, and are likely to do worse on the exam. Get your sleep. You’ll do better.
  6. Eat healthy. Cans of energy drinks, junk food, and late night pizza won’t fuel your brain, let alone your body. Grab some healthy snacks—fruit, veggies, whole grain crackers. The better you eat, the better you will feel, and the more energy you can put towards remembering everything you’re studying.
  7. Limit your time on social media. Checking updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and responding to all those SnapChats of your friends’ stressed out faces can be fun, but if you’re not careful, you can waste hours on social media. Limit your time on the internet during finals and put it towards studying.
  8. Exercise. Taking 30 minutes out of your day to get in some exercise will help improve blood flow to your brain and make you more alert and remember more of what you’re studying. It’s not a huge time investment, but can reap a huge reward!
  9. Do something fun. One hour out of your day won’t kill your grades. Go do something fun. Read a book. Go for a walk. Play a video game. Go out to eat with your friends. It’s a great way to reduce stress and get your mind off of what needs to be done. It may even give you a fresh perspective on that subject you’re studying.
  10. If all else fails, yell! That’s right, I said yell. There’s something incredibly relieving in letting out a good ol’ fashioned yell. It will relieve your stress, make you feel like a weight has been lifted off, and if you time it just right, you may cause your roommate to jump…giving you both a good laugh. Disclaimer: don’t yell in the library. They may frown upon that.

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