As I was sitting down to write this article I got a call from a struggling parent who sent his child off to college two years ago. I know this family well?actively involved in church, did their best to raise their boys to fear and love the Lord (as all of us with kids do), spent a lot of time on their knees praying for their son as he left for college.
After 18 years they felt their child was ready spiritually and physically for his college years. But this is where the story gets tough. The son never found a church and before he realized it he was immersed in the stereotypical college life.
While this is an individual story, I see the same pattern over and over again. Kids who grew up in church embark on college experience, they never find a church, and at some point succumb to the temptation that is all around them.
I know that you have heard the statistics (and they are staggering). If we can believe the experts, somewhere between 60-80 percent of students involved in church before they came to college will never darken the door of a church in their college years.
The first time I heard those numbers I didn’t believe it. I was young, in seminary, and thought that my ministry would be different. After I had graduated 50 students from my youth ministry and tracked them through their college years, I realized the students from my ministry were just as susceptible to letting their faith wane as those cited in the statistics.
I was frustrated because I spent time with them talking about the issue and challenging them to find a place to get involved. I would call them when they left and encourage them to find a church. While some have succeeded and really flourished in their college years, most have struggled (as evidenced through their Facebook profiles). While I wanted to think my youth ministry would be different, I have realized that I needed help to make the transition.
Fast forward a few years and now I find myself in college ministry at Texas A&M. As I go to conferences and talk to other college ministers around the country, they talk about how God is really moving at A&M. While that is true?God has done some amazing things (especially compared to other colleges)?there is still much work to be done.
As I was meeting with the college ministry staff we began to brainstorm a few ways that we could help new students transition spiritually from high school to college. We felt that one significant issue in the transition was a lack of connection to a local church in the area. So, we decided to try something new this summer. We set up a form on our website (thecollegeministry.org/newtoaggieland) asking parents or students to let us know that they are coming to Texas A&M or nearby Blinn College in the fall.
Our commitment to the parents and students is that someone from the church will connect with them through a phone call and a face-to-face meeting in the first few weeks they are here in College Station. If you know of a student who will be attending A&M or Blinn in the fall, please let them know about this opportunity. Our prayer is that God would use these connections to challenge and encourage students to stay involved in the life of the church so that the college years would be full of growth spiritually as well as educationally.
Maybe in the future I will get fewer phone calls about students who are struggling and more calls from parents who are seeing their children flourish spiritually in their college years.
?George Jacobus is campus minister for Central Baptist Church in Bryan. If your child is attending another college in Texas and we can help yo