Helping Students Search for a Church
Over the past few years of college ministry, we have observed a common thread with students and finding a church home. Research and surveys have concluded that anywhere from 70-80% of 18-22 years olds who regularly attended church stop attending during this age. Why? What is going on? We could speak for hours on reasons why but we will focus on one for this post.
Students and parents spend an amazing amount of time and energy into researching and picking the right college. This is an important decision so this time and energy should be devoted into choosing the right school. Then students are brought to the school on move-in day and left to start. For the vast majority of students there is no energy or time on the parents part placed into helping the student find a home church to get involved in. This can be a tremendous challenge for students. Many times a vehicle is not easily accessible. Many students will feel scared and intimidated to visit a new church in a new town. Most students have never had to find a church on their own so they do not necessarily know what to look for or what questions to ask to ensure it is a biblical church. Four to six years of a student’s life is not a time they should take off from church. This is the most formative period of their lives and the church is absolutely essential to their life.
The result is some students will try and visit churches in town. Others will attend whatever church their new friends are attending. Some will attend the campus church because of ease of accessibility. Others will find a weekly campus ministry separated from a local church and use that meeting as their church. Yet more will just stop going to church all together while in school. As the research proves, this is what the vast majority are doing while in school. Many times we find that the parent or pastor is not happy with the choice of the church the students makes but there was no effort in helping the same student. Some time and energy on the parent, youth leader, college & career leader, or pastor’s part to come back and visit churches with the student can slash this drop-out rate.
As we travel and speak, we are encouraging parents, youth leaders, college & career leaders, and pastors to invest the time and energy into helping the student find a church in their new town. These will know what to look for and what questions to ask to ensure it is a biblical church where the student can grow. Visit for a few weeks until a biblical church is found that is a good fit for the student.
Through many responses of parents we have heard that this was an element they never thought about. We must encourage students and parents to realize this drop-out issue and work together in finding a home church. We must also know that there are many students on our campuses that are going to be the 70-80% if we do not work hard at connecting them to a local church. Your church having an on-campus ministry is a strong tool to help in this area. Work hard to speak with students and pass out invite tracts to church around town and at student apartments. Getting church members involved and seeing the need will multiply these efforts. Students are everywhere! We must be intentional in these efforts but it is amazing to see God add students to the church staying grounded and growing in their faith.