After an extensive study it seems that a large portion of US college freshman are concerned about spiritual issues.
For many this is nothing more than a passing thing, say a quick prayer to whoever before a test, but for some they are quite devoted to their faith and beliefs. It seems spirituality is coming back in vogue. As I said earlier, hard-core atheism is in decline, most people are now open to the spiritual side of life. This is both a blessing and a curse for Christians and Christianity.
This allows discussions of faith and the spiritual, whereas in earlier years it was deemed unacceptable to talk about such things in public. Many conversions happen in college. It is the place where our faith is either strengthened and developed or weakened and destroyed. (A nice caveat to this study is that a follow-up study will be done to examine what happens to the same students after two years at college.)
This is an open door for Christians to be witnesses on college campuses. The most effective witness will not be those from the outside going in to ministry, although that could be effective, but the best and most impactful evangelism must come from Christian students going to college with a strong, real faith. The survey said that 42% of freshman identified themselves as "secure" in what they believe, but all the evidence is to the contrary. Many Christian young people head off to the state college thinking they know what they believe and are grounded in that, yet too often those same teenagers become jaded, skeptical 20-somethings filling their lives with all the "stuff" they can cram into it, except God.
That will be the downfall of the church in America (it has already been in Europe). We must develop in our Christian teenagers a faith that is sure of itself, that knows questions will come and doubts may linger, but also knows that Christianity is not from cleverly devised tales. We must show them the truth of absolute truth and the contradictions of subjective morality. We must begin to disciple not only our young people but all new converts, if not in the next few decades America will begin to resemble more and more the Europe of today.
Our time is now. The window of opportunity may be closing. I believe it is. Even now, spiritual discussions are allowed and everything is tolerated, except for "intolerant Christianity." We must continue to speak the truth in love, while living the truth in love. A huge impact for Christ can be made with the current seeking generation, but it must be made quickly. The doors will close.
Fostering openness to religious and spiritual diversity is important, but there also need to be boundaries, says [Shelli] Jankowski-Smith, the campus's [Northeastern University] first full-time director for spiritual life. Some cults "prey on college campuses," she says. She recently drew up guidelines, including a distinction between evangelizing and unacceptable forms of proselytizing.
Christianity will be grouped under cult status or marginalized by our "unacceptable forms of proselytizing." While we have the opportunity, work with the young people in your church. Encourage them, strengthen their faith. Sometimes it is a tireless and thankless job, but it is one that must be done if we have any chance of seeing the Kingdom of God grow in the next generations.