School is out for the summer and students are focused on relaxation rather than studying for exams and writing final papers. Both educators and students alike struggle to ensure that classroom learning is not lost during summer break, but what about the spiritual growth students experienced last semester? With chapel, D–groups, outreach ministries, and fellowship with other believers to keep students engaged throughout the school year, how do they continue the renewing of their relationship with God over the summer?
In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” The desire for students at APU is for their heart, soul, and mind to be continually transformed by the redemptive work of God, even when not on campus. “Summer is the season of transition,” said Jamie Noling-Auth, D.Min., associate campus pastor at Azusa Pacific. “I would encourage students to relax and look where God is near.”
Summer has a unique busyness to it with many distractrions and students need to remember that it is important to remain immersed in God. “There is a rhythm to the soul,” said Noling-Auth. “Continue being faithful to Him, cultivate your relationship with God, and stay active and attentive with a daily practice of Scripture and prayer.” Noling-Auth recommends The One Year Bible and Reaching Out by Henri Nouwen, to jump start students’ summer readings.
John Culp, Ph.D., professor of philosophy, thinks that relationships are important to keeping students focused on the Lord year round. “Our relationship with God is strongly affected by others we relate to,” said Culp. “Students should stay involved in studying Scripture with other believers on a regular schedule.” Culp suggests using a lectionary Bible, picking a specific book of the Bible to study, and applying methods learned from biblical studies courses at APU.
Other ways to stay connected are volunteering in local church ministries such as youth summer camps, community service projects, or outreach programs. Students can also find enjoyment in slower, more flexible daily routines. “After all the craziness of the semester, it feels amazing to come up for air and take a deep breath,” said Rebekah Milhon’13, a nursing major. “I like going on a run. It encourages alone time and silence, which helps me relax and clearly hear the Lord's voice.”
Using summer break as a time to stay intentionally connected to God will strengthen and rejuvenate a relationship in Him. By continuing spiritual growth at home through Scripture, prayer, service, solitude, and fellowship, students can maintain a closeness with the Lord that will continue on into the new school year.