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Congregation provides home for college students

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Located less than a 10-minute walk from Lethbridge (Alta.) College, College Drive Community Church is serious about supporting students – its new ministry, Life House, creates a Bible-school-style experience for young adults in Lethbridge. “We can’t sit and wait till they come to us,” says pastor Brent Miller; “who’s going to wake ’em up Sunday morning?”

The first Life House – a residence for four young men – has completed its first year. A second house, for young women, will be operating in fall. Life House provides a safe place for young adults to grow in their faith in a community of their peers, connected to a local church, as they explore adulthood – whether through studying at local post-secondary institutions or working a job.

With youth specialist professor James Penner in his congregation, Miller may be more aware than most of the “emerging adulthood” that is creating a gap between ministries to teenagers and regular adult programs. A gap in which young adults – faced with new independence, responsibilities, and throes of new questions, theories, and ideas from the wide world – often drift away from church. Inspired by a similar project of a local church near the city’s university, Miller set the wheels in motion for Life House.

“It’s a faith step,” says Miller. He and two board members who comprise the Life House team had a steep learning curve in this first year with the extra challenge of the resignation of their associate pastor and Life House “captain.” The church subsidized Life House rent for a few months, but “we believe it’s a good use of funds to really engage with students.”

The men’s Life House is connected to the church through relationships. At the men’s house, the Life House captain undertakes the lease and other members sublet from him. The women’s house has been purchased by a member of the congregation for this purpose.

All residents fill out an application and agree to abide by community standards, objectives, and regulations outlined in a handbook that borrows heavily from Bethany College’s student life guide, among others.

“Life House was a safe place where I could live and grow in my faith with other Christians my age,” said resident Sean Crozier. “One of the biggest ways the Life House provided a caring, intentional Christian community was through the weekly Bible study.”

Crozier’s connection to the church was not only through Bible study and young adults group – which grew too big for the house and had to move to College Drive – but also through volunteering on a worship team and with the youth group.

Life House provided “another opportunity to stay connected with church,” says Crozier.

“We see enfolding of the tenants into our own church activities and into prayer and worship,” says Life House board member Gerry Brooks. “Much has been learned in our first year and is the foundation of future plans as we look to expanding Life House programs…to those early in their careers. Embracing Christ in order to build a solid foundation for the future will be the key to their success, and ours.”

—Karla Braun

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