Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Why are students walking away from the church in record numbers? Well there is no one reason, but there are certainly some growing trends.
According to some of the initial findings from Fuller Theological Seminary's Center for Youth and Family Ministry, here is a compelling indicator:
"One of the most interesting findings from that pilot project was the importance of doubt in a student's faith maturity. The more college students felt that they had the opportunity to express their doubt while they were in high school, the higher levels of faith maturity and spiritual maturity [they had]."
In other words, they were given the freedom to 'own' their faith. If entertainment is the goal of youth ministry, there is no competition with what is available outside the church. Now youth ministry ought not be boring and no fun, but if the goal is to introduce students to Jesus so that they can become His apprentice for a lifetime, then we need to rethink how we spend our time.
Is the church a place where we can share doubts? Be unsure if God really exists or is good? Or that Jesus is the only way? or that the New Testament is trustworthy? I sure hope so. Because if we merely entertain students and do not give them a compelling, lifelong vision for life lived in the presence and power of Jesus, then I expect the trend of 'graduating from God' to continue.
This is one of the reasons I wrote Welcome to College. I wanted to paint a picture of a whole-life faith. I want students to engage their hearts and minds as disciples of Jesus.
If you know a student or work with youth, consider getting a copy of Welcome to College: A Christ-follower's Guide for the Journey in the hands of a student or your youth pastor. Honestly, you can't start too early thinking through these issues. Whatever we do, the price is far too high to keep going business as usual. I am hopeful that if we give students a thoughtful vision of real Christianity, it will withstand the doubts and pot holes of college life.
For whole article, click here