Monday, May 24, 2010

Losing My Religion. . . .

If we were playing Jeopardy and the title of this blog was the answer, what would the question be? Based on the research - both anecdotal and quantitative - it might read, "What song title best describes the college experience for our Christian kids?" Observant youth workers and concerned parents know this to be the case - not for everyone - but for too many. Who's to blame?


As with any social trend or reality, there are a multiplicity of causes. The family and church have combined to fail to build a strong theological foundation on which kids can make good decisions during college. . . or for the rest of their lives. As they get older, we fail to help them prepare for the realities of campus life, thereby making their transition that much more difficult and that much less deliberately God-centered. And then there are our kids themselves, who sometimes head off to school to allow themselves to get swept up in the pressures of college life. It's all this stuff and more that led us here at CPYU to establish our College Transition Initiative six years ago.

Last Saturday I took the time to attend the CPYU College Transition Seminar that Derek Melleby - our CTI Director -
led locally here in our area. It was a joy to see the room filled with a healthy mix of high school students, parents, and youth workers. You see, this is an issue that is best addressed not by the students themselves, but by the students and the supporting "village" that can and must surround them long before, all the time during, and for the rest of their lives after the day they first set foot on the college campus.

What impresses me most about our College Transition Initiative here at CPYU is a combination of careful research on the issue, application of that research to real life, and an interactive presentation style the engages people in ways that lead to the adoption of healthy resolutions before they arrive on campus or sit down to take notes at that first lecture. Not only that, but the tone and flavor is far different from what we usually give our kids in the church. Rather than talking about college in negative and alarmist terms, Derek masterfully communicates a positive and realistic message that encourages students to embrace college for what God intends it to be. I saw that happen once again on Saturday. . . and I was (humbly) proud.

After the seminar Derek received some great feedback. A couple of comments he shared with me stand out. First, there was the group of youth workers who were responsible enough to come and check out the seminar and its content before making it available to the people in their church. (I don't think we do that enough.) At the end, they told Derek how happy they were with the fact that the content was God-centered. Could there be any greater compliment paid for anything we do here at CPYU? Second, there was the attendee who told Derek that the seminar reminded him of a Pixar film. Hmmmm. What does that mean? He explained that while the seminar targets and reaches a younger audience composed of those heading off to college, there was lots of valable insight and takeaway for the older people who have been called to walk the journey with them. Again, what a great compliment!

Each of us knows at least one person who will be walking across the commencement stage in the coming days and weeks. Are we sending them off? Or, are we sending them off prepared? As you consider those questions, I want to challenge you to consider looking for ways to play a more significant and proactive role in these young lives by tapping into the College Transition stuff we're doing here at CPYU.

First, check out the College Transition portion of our website. Derek has made this a great place for you to learn more about the issue and how you can support and encourage the transitioning kids you know and love.

Second, get some resources into the hands of the kids you know who are graduating from high school. To make this doable, we've put together an affordable little gift pack that includes Derek Melleby and Don Opitz's great book, The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness.

Third, get to know the issues related to College Transition now! Don't wait until the kids you know receive their acceptance letters. By knowing the issues now, the home and church can work together to build a strong foundation while the kids are growing up, something that will serve them well all through their teen and young adult years.

Finally, think now about scheduling our College Transition Seminar during the fall, winter, or spring of next year. You can lean more here.

2 comments:

stephanie said...

Walt, such a timely article. In my third year of college my world has been turned upside down. I now realize that the ONLY reason I believe what I believe, is that I was TAUGHT it. Solely being taught something does not make it the truth. Every belief - Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, etc. would then have the right to declare their belief as the the "right one". If I or you was adopted as an infant by a practicing Jewish couple we would now be a believer in Judaism, just as strongly as we believe in Christianity. Again, being taught something does not make it the truth.

Was I brainwashed growing up? I attended Church and Sunday School every week, Youth Fellowship Sunday night, Wednesday night services, Summer Vacation Bible School, two week summer Christian camp, and a Christian grade and high school. Can you say " indoctrination" ? I am thoroughly confused.

Melvin and Amber said...

this article has been weighing on me since i read it last week. I keep thinking about my personal experience and wonder if there are other like me. i was raised in a christian family and went to a christian school my whole life. I even decided to go to a bible college to pursue a degree in youth ministry. i loved what i did an was very involved in the church.

i studied the bible every semester of my college career under many professors. and i learned a lot. but college was such a struggle. today the best thing i can say about college is that i made it out ALIVE. i lost my religion somewhere in bible college. i got hurt by the church and the college. i felt alone and abandoned.

i did graduate from bible college and i'm happy to say i have a liberal arts degree. i enjoy the field i work in and i'm glad this is where my journey has taken me.

you can do all the right things to keep a kid active in there religion but they can still walk away from it. sometimes it even has to do with how the church treats them and that saddens me.