With approximately 70 percent of Christian teens entering college walking away from their faith, college ministries are tackling the attrition rate head-on at secular campuses across America.
Campus Renewal divulged that roughly 70 percent of Christian college students going off to college end up leaving their faith during their first year on campus, and one group is joining forces with a number of faith-based ministries to make sure that no more freshmen will turn away from their Christian beliefs while making their transition to university life.
“Studies have shown that somewhere between 60 percent and 80 percent of previously engaged Christian youth become disengaged with their faith as they transition into college,” Campus Renewal announced in a “Campus Ministry Link” report published on its website. “Although we can be critical as to the reasons behind this statistic, in reality, most of this fall-off is quite unintentional and just a drift or slow fade away. This happens as we get distracted by life’s activities and struggle to ‘figure things out.’”
Problem and solution
This drop-off has been credited to high school seniors leaving home for college unprepared for campus life and vulnerable to its secular influences.
“One of the major reasons [so many freshmen drop their faith shortly after entering the campus gate] is the Christian community had no way of intentionally connecting students to Christian communities before they begin college – leaving hundreds of thousands of students' faith up in the air during the most important transition of their lives,” Campus Renewal proclaimed in a press release introducing its new campus collaboration project.
The Christian organization is determined to anchor college teens in their faith to stop this drift before it starts, and it plans on doing this through it Campus Ministry Link program that acts as a new online tool that proactively connects high school seniors to numerous college ministries – as well as to numerous campus churches across the country.
“We must actively and intentionally fight to live a life worthy of our calling in Christ across our campuses nationwide.” The Campus Ministry Link document continues. “This drop in Christian engagement when our freshmen students move off to college is a horrific and unnecessary vacuum on our college campuses … and we accept the challenge to fight for the Body of Christ.”
Two primary goals are outlined to keep young adult students from abandoning their faith when being overwhelmed after stepping foot on campus.
“[We will] lose no more freshman by providing a convenient and web-based way of connecting all incoming Christian students with a Christian ministry active on their new campus before they move,” Campus Ministry Link declared. “[We will also] strengthen campus ministries by creating a national grid of which campuses are unreached or least-reached to equip national ministries with a holistic view of the campuses across the country – helping them plant chapters on campuses with the most need for Christian representation – and by enabling local ministries to focus their efforts on relationship development and reaching the lost on campus.”
Hitting the ground running …
The aggressive outreach emphasizes that time is of the essence, and its leaders are determined to bring about drastic change – fast.
“One college ministry, The Navigators, has found that the first 72 hours is crucial in a new student's life, so it's important for the Christian organizations to intentionally connect with students before the start of classes,” CBN News reported. “Campus Renewal is hoping to reverse those numbers and eventually double the number of Christian freshmen on campus.”
Campus Ministry Link Partnership Director John Decker is adamant about reviving college campuses for Christ.
"The harvest is plentiful at universities, but the laborers have been too few," Decker asserted in a news release issued by Campus Renewal. "This tool will make it normal for students to prepare as high school juniors and seniors and experience growing in community and reaching other freshmen. College movements will be fueled, freshmen will return for Christmas to energize church youth groups, and many more will be discipled to change our nation and the world."
Joining the nationwide effort to rejuvenate God’s presence on college campuses are 12 of the largest ministries on college campuses in the United States, which include Cru, Navigators, Young Life College, Intervarsity, Chi Alpha and Reformed University Fellowship.
Campus Renewal President and Founder Jeremy Story is confident that God is using the new project to ignite a revival on American college campuses.
"The level of commitment and enthusiasm of national college ministries has been exciting and humbling," Story shared in the press release. "Sending out more college graduates throughout society as influencers for Christ is critical. Campus Ministry Link will be a significant part of this."
Non-believers on college campuses will also be targeted by Campus Ministry Link, which is equipping Christian freshmen with many tools with which they can share God’s Word and love with fellow students and faculty.
Weiner Ministries International President Bob Weiner – whose group spreads the Gospel with and through students on 150 campuses in 20 nations – has great hope that the new collaboration will be extremely effective from the get-go.
"I have longed to reverse the tragedy where 70 percent of our precious graduating youth walk away from their faith when they enter college," Weiner expressed on the release. "I believe this will change America more than any project I have seen."