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Study shows need of collegiate ministries

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–John attended church consistently in high school. He was there almost every Sunday morning and many Wednesday nights.

He said he never planned to stop attending church when he went away to college; nonetheless, that is exactly what happened.

“I just didn’t make it a priority,” said the 24-year-old, who now lives in Middle Tennessee and once again is actively involved in a church. “College was just a whole different world.”

The latest study by LifeWay Research revealed that John’s disappearance from church during his college years is far from an exception to the rule. According to the study, 70 percent of 23-30 year-olds stopped attending church regularly for at least a year during their college years (18-22 years old).

“As we uncovered the scope of the problem of young people leaving the church, the importance of churches and denominations working together to combat the issue became evident,” said Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research. “Youth Transition Network already is doing that.”

The Youth Transition Network (YTN) is a coalition of national high school and collegiate ministries focused on helping incoming co-eds develop relational connections on campus to Christian ministries, other Christians, and even Christian roommates.

“This LifeWay Research study data gives us validation,” said Jeff Schadt, executive director of YTN. “[LifeWay Research’s] study was broad-based and it gives us a credible anchoring point to say, ‘OK, there is an issue here. Now what are we going to do about it?'”

YTN operates two websites, each with a specific role in reducing the number of students leaving church during college. The first, LiveAbove.com, connects youth with collegiate ministries before they arrive on campus. The second, YouthTransitionNetwork.org, offers resources for parents, leaders and supporters as they strive to keep students connected.

“The research indicated that most students do not make a conscious decision to leave,” McConnell said. “Circumstances just don’t necessarily encourage them to stay once they arrive on campus. If we can get them to plan to stay, that could have a huge impact. And that is really the focus of Youth Transition Network.”
Compiled by LifeWay staff

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