To this day I am grateful to God that during the Jesus Movement of the '70s, Christians reached out to me in college and through their engagement, I was born again and catapulted into the Christian adventure I live until this very day.
Because of my experience, I'd like to share with you a national initiative that is going to revolutionize campuses through increased sharing of the gospel as well as linking every college-bound grad to ministries and churches before they even arrive! My four-decade relationship with Bob Weiner, one of the key leaders in this groundbreaking movement, gives me great confidence in what is being launched to reach this next generation for Christ.
Surveying the Situation
There is a serious problem we are facing in our nation as we watch Christian students who have attended church on a weekly basis, walk away from their faith in college. Over the past 10 years Lifeway, Barna and other researchers have reported 60-70 percent of teens brought up in a church youth group will walk away from their Christian faith in college. This is a huge impact on families and churches, thus robbing our nation of godly young leaders, who should be change-agents both in college and in our society.
Each fall, a life-shaping occurrence plays out for all incoming college freshmen as they make significant choices regarding their future. A study by the Navigators discovered that the first 72 hours on campus often determines what social group a student will bond with, which impacts whether they will grow in Christ or drift away. If students don't connect with a faith community during this pivotal transition they are unlikely to do so during their time in college.
A National Movement Engaging Students
Here's the great news for parents, students and pastors: a free online tool, CampusMinistryLink.org is now available to effectively connect youth to a campus ministry and/or church before they even arrive on campus. This tool was specifically designed to help students flourish in their faith and be surrounded by Christ-centered friendships, while being discipled and sharing the love of Jesus with their peers. A video on the Youth Leader page shows how a youth ministry was transformed.
Some of the largest college ministries like CRU, Navigators, Intervarsity, Chi Alpha, RUF, Young Life College, Baptist Collegiate Ministries, FCA, along with a growing number of denominations and high school ministries have committed to the Campus Ministry Link project to ensure that no student is lost in this transition.
Jesus said in Luke 10:2, "The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few." We raise our children in the church with hopes of them becoming world changing laborers for Christ. Unfortunately, we are losing massive amounts of "laborers." Statistics reveal that yearly about 70 percent of the 500,000 Christian high school grads get disconnected from the Christian community. No more!
This loss has drastically reduced the Christian impact on college campuses, the nation and the world. What this means from a financial perspective is an estimated $1.4 billion loss of the church's prior investment in youth ministry every year. Besides the spiritual and material loss that occurs, an enormous evangelistic opportunity is missed every year as non-believing students from all over the world attend American universities and never hear the gospel of Jesus.
Freshmen and the Next Great Awakening
York Moore, author and InterVarsity National Evangelist shared, "We are living in exciting times. A part of how God is going to move in power in the coming days is through incoming freshmen, and connecting those freshmen before they even arrive with a college and church ministry. We have to put our energies together if we are going to participate in a move of God. Campus Ministry Link is a tool that has come about as a result of this collaborative vision for reaching college campuses for Christ. Incoming Christian students needing to be found by campus ministries is the old way of doing ministry. Now we have the opportunity to connect with students before they even arrive on campus!"
My longtime friend Josh McDowell says, "When Christian college freshmen are alone, their faith rarely survives in today's college environment. The good news is that when they're connected in advance to campus ministries, churches and Christian friends, they not only survive, but thrive and impact their classmates. Campus Ministry Link will help parents, churches and ministries to turn the tide, so this generation can now become the leaders of tomorrow."
Increased Christian College Grads Will Impact Cities
"The Christian business community wants to see cultural changes in our cities, and substantially increasing the number of world-changing Christian college grads is the best way to do that," according to Bill Keith, President of Business Men's Fellowship, who is helping launch the San Diego, Campus Ministry Link 'No Student Left Behind Movement.'
As a 41-year board member of Intercessors for America national prayer ministry, I serve alongside of Jeremy Story, president of Campus Renewal, the parent organization behind Campus Ministry Link. He's been on a mission to create and catalyze united movements that transform universities. By using the Campus Ministry Link platform and combining efforts with campus ministries and churches nationwide, he believes we will see immediate change.
There are many networks who have already begun working to share information about the Campus Ministry Link with their staff and ministry connections. The National Network of Youth Ministries is currently spreading the message to youth networks via staff across our nation. The Southern Baptist Convention is working with its 47,000 churches to get as many students as possible connected to Campus Ministry Link before the fall semester kicks off.
Opportunity to Turn the Tide Is Now
As the body of Christ, we must seize the opportunity to get the word out now to our network of influencers, churches, youth pastors, parents and students. Our historic united effort will bring a national awakening among our youth that will absolutely change the fabric of our nation and change the world.
Here are the practical steps to take:
- Youth Pastors: You've spent years investing into the students who are now graduating, so preserve and multiply your valuable investment. A pastor and youth worker dashboard will enable you to see the activity of any student you enter into the system, so you can help your students get connected with a thriving community of faith in college. Simply go to the Youth Pastor page.
- Students and Parents: Campus Ministry Link will enable you to instantly search for and send a private message to a leader from any ministry or church at any college in which you have interest. CML has partnerships with most every Christian college ministry in the country.
- Campus Ministries and Churches: Do you have an active college ministry? Now students can know about you. There are no strings attached except the expectation that you bless, disciple and minister to every student sent to you.
Here's the Deal: A new school year is getting underway, so now is the time to steer our college-bound students on the path that leads to the abundant life and unique personal callings Jesus Christ designed for them in these formative years.
Larry Tomczak is a cultural commentator of 46 yrs, Intercessors for America board member, best-selling author and a public policy advisor with Liberty Counsel. His new, innovative video/book, BULLSEYE, develops informed influencers in 30 days (see www.bullseyechallenge.com). Hear his weekly podcast here.
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