Doing Life Together

book-15584_1920What’s happening on our college campuses? Are our freshman losing their religion and leaving the faith? A recent nationwide survey by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program says, yes. According to their data, the number of college freshman leaving the faith they were raised in has skyrocketed over the past 30 years.

The numbers are interesting and concerning. When asked to check religious affiliation for the survey, 31% checked,”None,” up from 10% in 1986. While the number of students identifying with NONE rose significantly, along with a decrease in the number of students attending religious services, there is an increase in  students attending nondenominational churches. In other words, students are seeking out more nontraditional churches and moving away from denominations.

The survey also found that men are more likely to subscribe to secular beliefs over women; Asian students were the least to identify with religion and blacks were the most likely to keep their religion. The LGBT population was highly likely to reject religious beliefs because of the “negative attitudes” towards homosexuality.

What is also interesting about this survey is what was reported about the family. Freshman leaving their faith was tied to the breakdown of the family with parents’ divorcing. But parents can’t take all the blame as secular humanism is the religion that is preached loud and clear on most university campuses. And faith has been the target of unprecedented attack by those who oppose religion, causing many students to stay silent and not discuss their faith as they one did. So much for the hallowed halls of academic freedom of religion, especially the religion that was foundational when these universities were founded.

So what can we do to make sure we are giving our children a solid faith that can withstand the attacks and pressure against religion on college campuses? 1) Prepare them early in their youth groups. Forget the entertainment priority that so many youth group’s have and focus on discipling teens in their faith. If they don’t know why they believe what they believe, faith will fall to the wayside quickly. 2) Make sure their faith is their own –not the faith of parents. Ask your teen if he or she has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and what that means in terms of everyday living. 3) I heard a talk at a Christian university years ago based on research of students who leave the faith. The speaker said the key is to get your child connected to a Christian group within 72 hours of being on the new campus. That time period was correlated with young adults staying in their faith and connecting with others of their faith.

Finally, I am a big believer in Christian higher education for these reasons: 1) What good does it profit a man if he gain the world and lose his soul? I have seen too many of my children’s friends attend prestigious schools, but lose their faith. They were surrounded by those who had no faith and swayed to leave it. The question to ask, “Is it worth it?” Do you know your child well enough to know if he or she can stand up to the assault on their values and beliefs. Christian colleges are not utopias and certainly have their share of problems, but at least the majority of the student body supports faith. And Bible classes and chapels expose your child to faith during a time when their identity is still forming and peer pressure is immense. I would prefer to surround my child with a majority who might hold them accountable, rather than a majority that will push against their faith. This is a decision every family must consider when deciding where to send their children to college. Yes, I have seen some students who attend secular universities come out stronger than ever because they had to defend their faith and banded with others who did also. In my experience, those students are the minority. Others have lost their way. Through prayer, you and your family have to decide what is best and how the Lord is leading. It is a different time in terms of what is happening on our campuses.



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