Monday, November 5, 2007

A healthier transition to college life

From the Christian Counseling Connection:

"Fuller Seminary has launched a three-year study to determine why so many college students are leaving the Church. It is estimated between 65% and 94% of high school students stop attending after they graduate. The struggles students were found to have when making the shift into college were related to friendships or lack thereof, being alone for the first time, and having a desire to find a faith. 'Whether it was with the youth group overall or with a specific adult leader, students who had the opportunity to struggle with tough questions and pain during high school seemed to have a healthier transition into college life,' states Kara Powell, Center for Youth and Family Ministry.

Youth groups are leaving out preparations to help students make a successful transition."

I wrote Living with Questions primarily with the student in mind, to help him or her not only find some peace with the questions that haunt them but also to equip them to be leaders as they become adults.

But youth leaders and workers need to have the vision to make the impact.

Living with Questions is available through Amazon or your local bookstore.


Nate said...

So the study will be completed in 3 years huh? It will be interesting to see the results.

Dale Fincher said...

Yeah, Nate, it will be interesting... This article posted above was from a year and a half ago.

We see stuff on the road that is a little different than what we hear from alarmist evangelical surveys. I hope the study will reveal some of that. We're fans of Christian Smith's work on teens and believe a lot of kids aren't getting aspects of the Christian experience that they need because youth leaders themselves cannot give it to them.... like really answering their questions in ways they understand.

Churched parents are hoping their teens are getting theologically educated at church. But who is going to do it for them? And what format will allow it?

Lots of work to be done!! Thanks for commenting!

Lainie Petersen said...

I think that there are several reasons for why college students leave the church, but one that I don't often see addressed is the utter marginalization of young adults in local churches.

If a college student attends a church local to his/her campus, s/he is likely to not be welcomed into the full life of that community. S/he may have a hard time obtaining full membership in the church, will not be encouraged to assume leadership in the church, and will generally be given second-class status. The most that the student could expect might be to be encouragement to join the church-sponsored campus ministry.

This is a generalization, of course, but it is what I have observed. I'd also note that this contributes to the phenomenon of delayed adulthood in modern American culture. If we don't expect teens and young adults to assume the responsibility of mature disciples, why should they?

Dale Fincher said...

This is a great comment, Lainie. Thanks for highlighting it. I'll add this idea to my list of things we share are on the road.

Not just college students, but teens too are not given the responsibility and inclusion in the important things in the body of the community. When they do, they often shine!

We know a HUGE college group in Boulder, CO. Almost 1,000 students from Univ of CO on a full week. My wife and I spoke for their fall retreat last month. Awesome group. And they have so many student 'interns' running the show, the texture of the group is one of responsibility and growth for their own souls.

A great model for others to follow.

Of all things we hunger for as humans, a place to belong is one of the deeper ones existentially. It make sense that this is lure to or from Jesus, depending on the group that is including them.

I think its possible that a lot of college church ministries are so focussed on 'evangelism' on the public campus that they miss just reaching the Christians that are there... and letting the light spill out.