Do we see college students as adults or kids?
We recognize that college students are in a season of life when it is more difficult to define the child-parent relationship than others. Are college students grown-ups who are responsible to make decisions independent of parental authority? Or should college students always make the decisions about their summers that their parents want them to make? In most cases, students find themselves somewhere between the two extremes of making decisions with complete freedom from parental authority on the one hand, and strict adherence to parental authority on the other. In light of the complexity in this season of life known as “emerging adulthood,” how does Summit College understand the student-parent relationship?
We believe that God has created the family to be the first and most influential environment for students to become disciples of Jesus and trained in the faith. Our hope is that every Summit College students is walking with the Lord because of the direct and faithful training that parents have poured into them over the years! So we understand that the role of the local church is to come alongside families to disciple their kids.
We also recognize that college students are in a unique season of life! Most of our students come to RDU to attend a school where their parents are not located. This makes it difficult for us to have an ongoing relationship with most of our students’ parents on a regular basis. We also know that college is a crucial time for students to begin owning and growing in their faith in a way that is independent of parents. That is, because following Jesus is personal, students must decide for themselves if they will follow Jesus or not. Believing parents would agree that the gospel calls students to follow Jesus personally rather than piggy-backing off their parents’ faith. It’s been said that “God does not have grandchildren. He only has children.” This means that conversion and discipleship cannot be purely inherited from family. Parents cannot repent and believe on behalf of their children. Students must repent and believe the gospel themselves. So our goal in Summit College and our GoNow projects is to help college students fulfill the best dream a parent could have for their child—to be converted to the faith and become disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus.
Finally, the Bible clearly teaches that the Lord commands his disciples to honor their parents (no matter the age!). So we try our best to counsel students to always obey the commandment to honor their parents, including in the decision about how to use their summer. Should they go overseas for two months? Or should they get an internship? The outcomes of students’ choices will vary widely in this manner, and the way students keep the commandment to honor mom and dad will vary from situation to situation. But we hope that each student will follow Jesus with their summer, which includes honoring parents in their decision along with the manner of their decision-making process.