Where Have all the Students Gone?
71% of students leave the church after high school. What’s the deal with this number? Are we sending them off unaware of the lions’ den that awaits them in college? Do they simply find college as a time to stretch their wings, or to find “what works for them?” Or is this in fact a real dilemma that will come back to bite us in the future?
One of the very first and most vivid things I remember about college is sitting in my Western Civ 101 class, and hearing this axe-to-grind professor rail against every story in the Bible. The problem was, I disagreed with him, but I didn’t know how to truly approach it. He couldn’t be right about all the stuff he was saying against the Bible could he? The scariest part for me, was that I knew what I believed, but I didn’t have a clue why or how to back it up.
Now years later after working in many different areas of ministry, I see this same problem in students who graduate. They have plenty of great stories to remember from Wednesday night Bible study, but when faced with tough questions, they crumble and clam up. Then, they begin to take what their professors tell them as “gospel”. They start to question Jesus, and the validity of the resurrection, and of scripture, until they end up walking away from the faith.
Now on a positive note (if you can call it that) about 30% come back to the faith…..what about the other 41%? Do we just give up and say, “almost half is better than none!”?
Here is what it boils down to. We are sending students into a battle completely unequipped. We have to inspire the students to care about what they believe, and why they believe it. We have to foster a love of Jesus that goes beyond emotion, but to the core of our being, which includes our mind.
We can’t be timid when it comes to defending Christ. Here are some powerful verses that reinforce this idea:
2 Corinthians 10:5
New International Version (NIV)
5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
1 Peter 3:15
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
Jesus in Mark 12:30 boils down the law to tell us that we are to Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, your soul, your MIND, and your strength.
Emotions aren’t enough; we have to devote ourselves to this, and pour this over these students to prepare them for what’s to come.
Let me know some of your strategies in the comments below.
Here is a message to graduates that I put together that goes a little further.