Nine Ways to Grow Your Faith at APU

by Abigail Reed

Wherever you may be on your Christian walk, your time at Azusa Pacific University is an incredible opportunity to deepen your faith. While making new friends, engaging in scholarship, and taking hold of new experiences, consider these available resources and opportunities to grow closer to God and others.

Join or Lead D-Groups

Cultivating Christian community is one of the most profound ways to grow in your faith and understanding of God’s love for you. APU’s D-group offers a chance to join or lead a small group of peers, called a D-group, that meets throughout the school year in the spirit of discipleship. The intimate setting allows for the formation of friendships, accountability, transformation of lives, and, ultimately, the living out of the gospel mission.

“D-groups create a space where individuals can process and interact with others about their faith and push each other toward meaningful application,” said Coba Canales, MDiv, dean of spiritual life. “Immersing yourself in God’s word and utilizing spiritual practices with the help of an established support system creates life-changing habits during busy college life.”

Seek Pastoral Care

Unique and full of change, the college season can bring challenges. Instead of walking through these alone, seeking faith-based help can bring insight and encouragement—all while pointing you to Jesus. Whether you are navigating theological questions or dealing with a personal struggle such as the loss of a loved one, the Office of Spiritual Life offers one-on-one pastoral care to bring clarity and healing through faith-related guidance, prayer, and wisdom.

“APU pastors open up their offices to students in all stages of their faith, where they can seek support, free from judgement,” said Canales. “It’s an honor for us to walk alongside students as they navigate the challenges of college and work out their own faith.”

Learn from Faith Integration

God’s truth is not limited to chapel services, ministry opportunities, or discipleship. In APU classrooms, faith integration illuminates deep truths in all areas of study, whether Christian stewardship alongside the study of wealth or biblical personhood within the study of psychology. As you develop this integrative habit of mind, you will be prepared to confidently carry God’s wisdom into the next phase of your professional or educational life.

“I rely on the Bible’s insights into the human experience and on certain truths it conveys to help me understand legal frameworks and rationales,” said Anika Mizel ’14, now a law student at Yale University. “The Bible has held valuable insights for me in my study of the law, and I am grateful to APU for providing practice ground for faith/discipline integration.”

Connect with a Local Church

Becoming an active participant of a local church extends your faith outside of APU, which can bring spiritual growth within the multi-generational body of Christ. Area churches can be dynamic and transforming communities where you can serve and live out discipleship with members in different stages of life, each with a unique role in the body. Research local churches on APU’s website or attend the annual church fair on the Cougar Walk.

“APU is an extension of the church, but becoming a part of the body as a whole is a valuable part of spiritual growth,” said Canales. “Finding a church can provide you a community to connect with beyond college to strengthen your faith journey.”

Add a Biblical Studies Minor

APU’s General Education Program lays a solid foundation of biblical understanding, but with just three more classes, you can add a Biblical studies minor to your degree. Whether walking alongside Esther as she becomes queen, studying the life of Jesus, or learning the original languages of the Bible, additional classes can broaden scriptural insight and understanding. The expertise of professors and scholarship of your classmates can bolster your faith, as you dive deep into Scripture and experience God through scholarship.

“Pursuing a minor in biblical studies gives me the opportunity to study texts in their original language and context, opening my eyes to new meanings and allowing me to understand God intellectually,” said Samantha Wu ’20. “My faith has a foundation of knowledge—I've actually studied these texts, understood them, and thoughtfully decided that I believe what they say is true.”

Attend Chapel

In the midst of a busy school week, classes pause and APU students gather together in worship and listen to relevant messages rooted in Scripture. Weekly chapels offer a place to both grow community and undergo spiritual formation. Chapel requirements encourage a consistent rhythm of intentional worship experiences, with additional opportunities if you desire to attend more. From traditional, reflective practices to worship services bursting with energy and creativity, chapel introduces biblical and diverse means of encouraging growth, diving deep into what it means to be a Christian in our world today.

“As a former student of APU, chapel shaped me as a young person and brought me to where I am today.” said Canales. “It’s an incredible gift to so frequently pause, close your eyes, sing out in worship, and gain wisdom before immersing yourself back into the work of college life.”

Serve Local Neighbors

Whether healing Peter’s mother-in-law or breaking bread with tax collectors, Jesus served locally. APU offers ways to mirror this radical love and become a meaningful member of the Azusa, Los Angeles, and San Gabriel Valley communities. Partnerships with local churches, non-profits, and businesses provide service opportunities, including weekly tutoring at the Azusa Neighborhood Homework House and inner city work in Los Angeles through Experience LA.

“Local service can remind you of the larger social structure you are a part of—we are one body and everyone is created in the image of God, whether your neighbor in your residence hall or neighbor down the street,” said Karen Rouggly, MA, director for mobilization. “It cultivates a sense of oneness with those around us.”

Serve Around the World

From hiking through the misty Himalayas to unreached villages to creating an electronic medical record for Namibia public hospitals, APU’s Center for Student Action creates trips for you to encounter God, yourself, and others in a unique way through communities around the globe. As you build international relationships—serving, making disciples, and learning about new cultures—your faith can dynamically transform, altering the way you interact with the world around you.

“Serving globally brings different cultures and aspects of God’s creation into view and, as a result, broadens understanding of Him,” said Rouggly. “Each one of the 7.4 billion people on earth are a reflection of God’s character and can teach us more about Him.”

Meet with God in Solitude

Light filters through the windows of Hartwig Prayer Chapel as students enjoy the refuge of solitude. Little bits of paper peek out from the cracks and crevices of the Prayer Wall on West Campus, a shaded and green space to write prayer requests and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. God speaks in quiet spaces. Jesus Himself often withdrew from the bustling crowds and sought aloneness with God, committing to prayer. Whether you are heading to the library or walking between afternoon classes, APU cultivates places of stillness and beauty to slow down and meet with God. These moments often bring restoration, renewed peace, and a sense of direction—reminding us what is truly important.

“Escaping the pressures of college and finding quiet and rest has been comforting to me during different seasons I’ve gone through in my last three years attending APU,” said Keely Turner ’20. “God’s presence feels tangible in places like the prayer chapel.”

Abigail Reed is a public relations intern in the Office of University Relations. She is a liberal studies major with an honors humanities minor.