Friday, July 29, 2016

How to really prepare our youth for college

From the Greek Archdiocese blog website, a post entitled "Preparing Our Youth for College Life."

“Six or seven out of ten young people will leave the church in college and never return.”

This quote, or others like it, has been used by anxious youth workers and campus ministers for at least the past decade. For parents who want their kids to stay connected to the Church, this sounds terrifying, and it is. But there is a caveat.

In a 2011 report, the Barna Group--who conducted the original research to which people are usually referring--clarified a few things. Perhaps most surprisingly was this observation:

College experiences are generally not the main reason young people disengage from church life or lose their faith.

David Kinnaman, the director of research for the Barna study, says that it is not the experiences of anti-Christian academic courses, Saturday night parties, or even the casual hook-up culture alone that draw students away from the Church. Rather, the bigger issue is their lack of preparedness to face such obstacles and turn to Christ and His Church when college life gets difficult.

“’The problem arises from the inadequacy of preparing young Christians for life beyond youth group.’ Kinnaman pointed to research findings showing that ‘only a small minority of young Christians has been taught to think about matters of faith, calling, and culture. Fewer than one out of five have any idea how the Bible ought to inform their scholastic and professional interests. And most lack adult mentors or meaningful friendships with older Christians who can guide them through the inevitable questions that arise during the course of their studies. In other words, the university setting does not usually cause the disconnect; it exposes the shallow-faith problem of many young disciples [emphasis added].’’

The Barna Group further points out that many young people feel “emotionally disconnected from church before their 16th birthday.” This changes the conversation about preparing our young people for college entirely. Instead of putting our primary emphasis on teaching high schoolers how to stay out of trouble or how to intellectually assent to a set of Orthodox tenets, our emphasis has to be on forming whole persons who have internalized God’s love and His commandments and who know where to turn when they face the world’s challenges.

So here’s our challenge to parents, youth workers, catechetical school teachers, and parish priests:

Before you send your kids off to college and to OCF, give them a lifetime of love, knowledge, and faith. What you do in the parish and the home the first eighteen years of their lives will impact their college careers far more than anything campus ministry can provide them in four short years. Specifically, here are three things they need to face the challenges of college life...

Complete article here.

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