Making Back to School a Win – College Edition

Senior-itis is a real phenomenon. It’s that feeling of walking into your first day of 12th grade still exhausted from your last day of 11th grade. All the homework, pep rallies, relational drama, prom, athletic practices, banquets, late nights, early mornings… At one level, you love it. At another level, you just want out. I went to a private school from Pre-K to 12th grade and absolutely loved it. Still every school has its pros and cons. Upside: being small, we were a close-knit family and the teachers knew each child personally and intimately. The downside? If you got stuck with a label, reputation or stereotype, it was hard to shake. You couldn’t just grab a new group of friends and rebrand yourself. Translation: graduation couldn’t come fast enough.

I later realized that deep beneath the longing for graduation day was a desire for something much more:


A place where you get to make your own choices and no one knows what you did back in 10th grade. A season where you get to choose who you want to be and who you want to live life with.

Enter college! That magical four year world filled with intramurals, meal plans, leadership organizations and classes you actually want to take. The world says you’re not quite an adult yet so you should soak up the typical college experience and live life to the fullest. But having been a college pastor for eight years, here’s what I know:

The decisions you make during college will set the course for the rest of your life.

So in order to not repeat your high school-itis, here’s a quick list of things all college students (from freshman to senior) need to hear at the beginning of the school year:

    • 1. Choose Wisely //

      It’s true: YOUR FRIENDS ARE A PREVIEW OF THE FUTURE YOU. I can tell who you are going to be someday by looking at the friends you are hanging out with right now. If you want to reach a godly destination, pick some friends who are going there with or without you.


    • 2. Ditch the Sin Experiment //

      I meet so many students who say they started college with a desire to “just have a little fun for a little while.” They’ll visit parties or hook up with some guy/girl…because it’s “just for a little while.” I recently met a few guys starting their senior year who told me: “We just realized that the world will call us adults in nine months time. How do we make up for the last three years of living for ourselves?” Don’t be those guys. But if you have been, your answer lies in #3.


  • 3. Make it Your Personal Mission to Destroy FOMO //

    In an attempt to not miss out on anything, you will be tempted to commit to nothing. The basic college route calls you to hop around to different churches and bounce in and out of anything asking you for a commitment. When Jesus came to Peter, He said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:20 says, “Immediately, they left their nets and followed Him.” My challenge to you is to get into a Lifegroup and pursue discipleship and accountability that will push you to Jesus. ASAP. This is where you will encounter God personally and where you will find a fresh start – a clean slate – waiting for you.

This is your shot and you only get four years (okay, some of you get five). In the meantime, remember what 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Or as Hillsong’s song Empires says:

Beneath our skin
A new creation
The night is done
Our chains are broken
The time as come
The wait is over
The King is here

That promise is for you. Don’t waste it.

Carl Gulley, College Pastor

Carl-Gulley headshot

Welcome Back Students – A Letter from College Pastor Carl Gulley

Welcome back, college students! To be honest, now that you’re settled in, the world feels right again. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, we hope Waco feels more like home than ever before!

I’m a true Wacoan, born and raised in the 254, so this city holds a special place in my heart. This will be my 10th year serving as Antioch’s college pastor. Before that I served as the youth pastor for 10 years – my love for young people runs deep. Believe it or not, you will most likely never again have the time, availability or opportunities that your college years provide you. That’s why my wife, Blair, and I believe college students are the premier group to be touched by God and stirred to live out the dreams of God, and that combination can actually change the world!

We believe your time in Waco can be more than a pit-stop on your life’s journey, but can be the training ground for Kingdom impact for the rest of your life.

With that said, I want to personally invite you to get connected with us at every level – join us for our Sunday morning services, our Wednesday night College Services and our student-led small groups called Lifegroups. We want to replicate the early church we read about in the book of Acts, attending the temple together, meeting from house to house, breaking bread and studying the teachings of Jesus. We believe a church that is centered on God’s Word, empowered by His Spirit and devoted to His ways is unstoppable.

We also believe YOU were created to be a part of this church that changes the world!

So, my encouragement to you is to jump into a Lifegroup as soon as possible. If you’re a new student, we have 35 Lifegroups that meet almost any night of the week – try out a few that work with your schedule and find the one that feels like home. Then, get involved in a discipleship group, where you’ll walk with others more intimately as you learn to follow Jesus, pray for one another, encourage one another and hold one another accountable. If you’re a returning student, don’t hesitate to jump right back in! Take ownership, invite your friends, start discipling other students and help shape the culture.

We’re all made for life with Jesus and life in community. And if you choose to do that with us here at Antioch, then my wife Blair and I, along with our four kids, are thrilled to walk with you!

Sic ‘Em,

– Carl Gulley, College Pastor



This week College Pastor, Carl Gulley, continued our series with a message on the eighth commandment: “Do not steal.” Throughout his message, Carl posed and answered the question “why do we do the things we do?” When we are in Jesus, sin no longer controls our actions or defines who we are. In Jesus we are free to make the declaration, “sin is not my master.”


Today, College Pastor Carl Gulley wrapped up our series with a message on crucial conversations. There are two sides to crucial conversations, the way we address them and the way we respond. These conversations aren’t always easy, but the reward is always worth the risk.


This week Carl continued our series, It’s Complicated, with a message on offense. Offenses, both intentional and unintentional, happen to all of us. While we can’t control the actions against us, we can control our response. When we choose to not act out of offense, but to respond with honor and forgiveness, we set ourselves up to walk out in freedom.


This week College Pastor Carl Gulley, kicked off the new series, It’s Complicated, with a message on taking ownership of our actions in relationships. Relationships aren’t easy and involve an intentional process in order for them to thrive. Carl also left us with a challenge to begin creating intentional processes to keep us inside the box of owning our relationships.

The Struggle is Real

College Pastor Carl Gulley addresses recent graduates and shares a few encouraging tips from Galatians that apply to all of us. Although we have all been saved by grace through the finishing work of the cross, the law of sowing and reaping still applies to our lives. This means that whatever we are sowing, we will inevitably reap. He ended his message with a challenging question: is there anything you are sowing in your life now that you don’t want to reap later?

Mother’s Day 2015

College Pastor Carl Gulley shares an inspiring message to our moms on Mother’s Day. Carl tells the stories of several women in scripture who display character and commitment that all of us can follow. We need our moms to remind us who we are and call us up into who we’re called to be!

Name Tags

There is power in the name of God. It represents everything He is – His depth, character, kindness, mercy, strength, power. When we call upon His name, He gives us a new name and the power of the cross overcomes the lies and labels we have carried around.

Live Alive: Holiness

College Pastor Carl Gulley continues our Live Alive series with this message on holiness.