A good friend and co-laborer of mine, Alan shared this article with me. I found it interesting – not surprisingly because it’s a topic near to my heart and calling – college students and their faith journey. The article claims that college isn’t quite the “faith shredder” it’s been made out to be; claiming students are 2.7 times more likely to say their beliefs were strengthened in college rather than weakened. A researcher speculates why this might be:
Professor Smith observes three primary and very interesting reasons why the university is not the faith-shredder we imagine it to be:
1) The increase in presence and effectiveness of campus-based ministries like Campus Crusade, InterVarsity, and Young Life.
2) The increase of relativism and the decline of strict scientism, which allows for discussion of faith and spiritual speculation, similar to what Paul experienced at the Aeropagus.
3) An increase in committed evangelical and Catholic faculty at secular universities in America who can serve as an encouragement and balance for Christian students.
Point number one is the most affirming to Amy and I. The work we’re called to do and giving our lives to is making an impact. Campus ministry is to blame for strengthening the faith of those that come to college. Now we just need to see numbers on students coming to faith in college. We have our own experience to measure against but would love to see wider stats on what is happening on college campuses.
I read a thought provoking article today. You can read it here. I recommend taking the time to read it.
While I’m sure there are things to disagree with and argue on the causes of the state of young men today, it certainly was refreshing to hear a number of different options rather than an over simplified “the economy is bad” reason.
If you know me, you know I’m passionate about discipling and mentoring young men – college aged specifically – hence the college missionary thing. This is a trend we’ve seen on campus for quite awhile and it certainly has shifted more-so to the porn soaked, video game addicted side of things since I was a student some 7 years ago.
Often Amy and I talk about a number of solid young women we know – both students and graduates – who are waiting for a man to show up rather than a boy. We can get sad for these women, and I am, but my heart stays with the boys. There is a discontentment in their spirit that is hard to pin down. The guys I’ve worked with over the years know there is more out there than porn and video games, drinking and hook-ups but they’re struggling to figure out what and how to get to it.
This is one of my primary passions as I meet with young men. I want to be a man that “stands up for the weak and disempowered” (a definition the article offers for a real man). In my circles that’s often the young men. In doing so, I hope to provide an alternative path for them, one that calls them up rather than to settle.
Not long ago I received word from the GCM office of an agreement made between the 17 dominate missions groups focusing on reaching college campuses (of which GCM is one). It’s being referred to as “The Chicago Agreement: Unity in Mission” you can read it here, or below.
It excites me knowing that the common ground we have in Christ can spur us on together to reach our campuses for Christ despite our theological, worship and stylistic differences. In matters of faith and Christian brotherhood, I find it more profitable to find the common ground we share rather than drawing lines and defining who is in the club and who is out. I find the spirit of this agreement to be the same.
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I spent last week in Orlando, FL near the headquarters of GCM, as a stop along the support raising trail back to campus. My good friend Chris hosted me at his place for the week as I worked at finding times to meet with folks and share about the work I do and – during the off hours - spent much time working on upgrading the GCM network firewall with our IT department.
Shortly after arriving in Orlando I found myself standing on the beach facing the Atlantic Ocean. Chris’ church was holding their Baptism service – which is much more of a celebration than most churches I’ve attended. I loved the atmosphere and excitement as we celebrated brothers and sisters making a public display of the inward commitment they had made to follow Jesus.
Together in community we shared a meal, cheered as 113 folks were baptized in the waves of the Atlantic (including some more notable figures), worshiped together in music and voice and shared our lives. This church thinks about baptism much the way that Illini Life does – it’s an event we want to celebrate as a church community. It’s worthy of celebrating as we watch others make a public declaration to the church body that they belong to Jesus.
Well folks, we are less than a week away from the Chicago Marathon. Amy and I have been training for nearly 18 weeks specifically for this race coming off the Illinois Marathon 1/2 marathon and Mattoon triathlon this summer.
I’m eager to beat on the streets of this great city after several years off of marathoning. This well run race has always been a favorite of mine.
This will be Amy’s first marathon, I hope you’ll join me in cheering her on and wishing her luck as she tackles this huge goal.
If you’re interested in following our progress in the race you can sign up for runner updates to your mobile device, follow the directions here.
Just Keep Running!
The Pew Forum on religion & public life posted the findings of a recent survey of religious knowledge. It has made quite the headlines today. You can read the executive summary and stats here.
Several headlines I’ve read point out that atheists and agnostics “know more about the Bible than Christians.” Which isn’t quite accurate reporting. The study showed that Mormons and Evangelicals know the most about Christianity, but overall atheists and agnostics know more about world religions than any other group surveyed.
The more I read through the study the less surprised I was. Evangelicals tended to know most about Christianity but little about other religions. Those with more education tended to score higher on the survey. Those that answered more of the general knowledge questions correctly tended to answer more of the religious questions correctly – showing a correlation of more education or knowledge emphasis in general.
All this has me thinking about if we have any responsibility as Christians to know more about other religions and informing or encouraging our students to know more. Or does knowing the truth leave us content?
Things I’m thinking about… I welcome your thoughts
Amy and I just celebrated our 1 year anniversary this past weekend. It was a time to look back and be reminded of the sweetness of our marriage and the good gift God has given me in a dear wife. Not to be all gushy and all – well actually yeah that’s what I had intended
That set the stage for me leaving on the first support raising trip without her. Most of the next weeks and months will be this way. I’ll be in the Chicago suburbs raising support while she’s in Champaign working in the schools and seeing each other for a short weekend each week.
I can feel a sense of urgency to finish support raising as quick as possible, it is stronger, almost new. Certainly God provides in His time and I’ll be doing this until He tells me otherwise, but nonetheless my heart speeds and my pace quickens.
“Just drove away from Champaign without my wife, one of the hardest things I’ve had to do so far while raising support. 9:50 AM Aug 9th via Twitter”
The hard thing about leaving has less to do with separating from her – that’s tough for sure – it’s the not knowing for how long. How many weeks will we be following this routine, how many more times will I drive away from our house watching her eyes fight back tears as mine do the same?
As I prayed through all this, it became evident to me the urgency, the questions, the worrying were all rooted in the fear I was feeling. I haven’t had to be alone for the past year, I’ve had a companion. As I pull away for the week, I’m alone again: me, my thoughts and my work. Lucky for me I follow a God who meets us in that place of alone.
Hello friends below you should find our update letter for August 2010.
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I scrolled across this article in my google reader this morning, admittedly I was behind on several of the key blogs I subscribe to. This post dates earlier this month from the ever insightful Chuck Bomar of College Ministry Thoughts.
What I find fascinating is how shocking these stats were to me. Maybe it’s the proximity to a major land grant university, complete with 40,000 students.
USA Today reports that nearly half of students at a four-year degree school don’t complete their degree within 6 years. Which translates to high drop our rates. And nearly half of college students attend a 2 year degree school such as a community college.
This got me thinking. I trust USA Today’s stats. The trends I’ve seen on campus are more students taking summer school classes at a community college where it’s cheaper, a higher pressure for students to maintain a part-time job while in school to offset the expense, more pressure for high paying internships in the summers. I’m sure the list goes on.
This demographic of college-aged students aren’t any different from you and I and our families. The economic downturn of the past few years has a lot of folks scared and we’ve tightened our belts in a lot of ways. I’m wondering how much of these changing stats are in reaction to such things.
Or maybe simply with the prevalence of online college programs and night school, our population of college students boomed overnight. Either way, I’m passionate about reaching college-aged people regardless of where they go to school (University of Illinois or otherwise).