Monday, April 16, 2007

Some more thoughts on college life

we have a really good college group. i am really proud of them. they are hard working and have really begun to understand god's calling to a servant lifestyle. they are spiritually aware and have a deep awareness of god's presence and kingdom priorities. they have had good modeling and are well taught in the fundamentals of christian discipleship. and i like them. but i am painfully aware that they are not necessarily the norm, nor does having a good college group ensure that new kids will follow in their footsteps in years to come.

the college years are difficult and navigating through them is a treacherous journey where many, even most, fall flat on their face after they leave the protective womb of adolescence and the safety of the church youth group they have grown accustomed to. did i say treacherous? yeah.

there are a number of possible reasons for the drop off in church attendance (or the abandoning of christian lifestyle) once a kid enters college:

the new-found freedom is tough to handle... there is no question that adulthood and the post-high school lifestyle is one full of amazing opportunities for both good and danger. with freedom comes responsibility. unfortunately, that new-found freedom usually lacks the component of accountability. nobody even makes you get up on sunday mornings anymore!

new social circles... the high school youth group is a pretty cool entity. you don't have to think much. you don't have to plan much. you don't have to initiate stepping outside your comfort zone. it's full of familiarity, fun, tradition, and a ready-made group of safe, similar friends...even for the most edgy of kids. trips are planned. meetings are planned. friendships are orchestrated. spiritual experiences are blueprinted. life is good. when a kid goes to college, it is full of new possibilities and new friends and new circles. and nobody scripts out spiritual experiences.

the tidal wave of education... if high school kids think their faith is challenged now, just wait until their first philosophy or ethics class! or what about the first microbiology lecture? biblical faith is assaulted from the moment a kid sets foot on the campus of most any of our nations institutions of higher learning. defense of the faith can only be done by those that have built a defense. that leads to the next problem:

our youth ministries are not necessarily preparing our young people for what's ahead... kids are all about having fun, hanging out with their friends, pursuing their own dreams, developing strong and nimble digit motor skills (for effective computer gaming), and, did i already say...having fun? it's incredibly easy to play to the lowest common denominator when it comes to attracting a crowd of young people. just ask them what they want to do! often, church youth groups are nothing more than glorified boys and girls clubs with a spiritual veneer...and then they are left to face that reality as they naively wander off to college.

finally, our kids have watched the adults at church for years (often, their own parents) and have concluded "what's the point?"... they see adults who claim allegiance to christ and loyalty to the kingdom and, at a minimum, are confused. they see adults who are consumed with their own lives, their own homes, their own vacations, their own money, their own time, their own reputations, their own rise up the ladder, their own petty jealousies, their own unresolved anger, their own legalism, their own abuse of freedom, their own worries, their own fears, their own inconsistencies, and their own empty spiritual lives. what do we expect our young people to do with that?

what will you do to help change this trend?

6 comments:

Wendy (Binxy) said...

Mike,
Although we just have kidlets - we still appreciate the influence you and others have on the teens at North Point. They are a great bunch of kids and it is amazing to me the level of commitment and dedication our HS and College Young Adults have to our church family, our community and to serving God without fear.

Thanks for all of your hard work - our college kids are definitely worth bragging about.

Anonymous said...

Did you choose the college topic before or after you heard about Virginia Tech? Empty spiritual lives . . . yeah . . .

The Padre said...

very sad and ultimately, ironic. i had not heard anything about the virginia tech tragedy before i wrote...

Colin said...

good stuff mike. I'm coming up to Lewisville this weekend and it would be good to talk to you about the church and college. I've been away from NP for a while and would like to hear what God has been doing with the church.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the drop off is from things that happens in their young adult lives that are too hard for them to grasp and understand. And if there is not a certian amount of support, it is easier to just walk away.

Lindsay : ) said...

This is good motivation for those of us working with High School group. They're so close to moving on. This was a good reminder of how our leadership is helping them build a foundation for their college years and beyond! What a huge responsibility! : )