This fall as we were exploring what a new college ministry from Schweitzer would look like we thought it would be a good idea to talk with students about the idea. We gathered groups of students together and asked them four questions. This is a summary of their answers to one of those questions.
How can a church help you develop your faith as a college student?
We think the most significant discovery from this question is the distinction students see between a campus ministry and a church. They recognize the importance of being involved in a church. They talked about how campus ministries are most often about activity: fun, fellowship, service. They’re looking for something more in a spiritual venue and want to have more than fun. Students desire an environment of Christian fellowship that incorporates age diversity, but recognizes that college students are at a unique stage in life. They want to be treated with more respect and have more responsibility than youth, but the church needs to realize they are still young. They are looking for a setting where they can be young but still build relationships with those of other generations, particularly mentoring relationships. Students feel like having older people teaching is good and provides a different perspective. That said, students are concerned about their need to feel comfortable, especially as a visitor to a new ministry. They say that many churches are not welcoming to college students, or don’t accept their unique life situation. A church setting helps students to build deep, significant relationships better than a campus ministry. It also provides broader opportunities to be involved. The number one reason stated for not being involved in a church was convenience and availability of a desirable church.