By Mark A. Taylor
Several facts are clear as we look at reports from colleges and campus ministries posted at this site this month:
• These are tough times for Christian colleges. As more than one writer mentions, a perfect storm of difficult situations—sluggish economy, a smaller population of new high school graduates, higher expectations among students and parents, and greater competition, to name the most mentioned—have caused much navel-gazing and budget cutting among college administrators everywhere.
Small secular colleges are facing many of the same pressures, and this is some consolation, but not enough. If the economic or cultural climate is jeopardizing the future of public colleges, why should we believe it won’t threaten “ours” as well?
• But despite the threats, God is working on campuses everywhere. Our stories this month give only a hint of the creative programs, visionary plans, and changed lives resulting from the ministries of Christian colleges and campus ministries.
• We’re all in this together. A generation ago, some on Christian college campuses thought themselves more spiritual or effective than Christians in secular schools. And others thought their mission of training vocational Christian workers was somehow holier than educating Christians for any career. Those days are gone.
God is at work on campus! At Bible colleges, Christian colleges, Christian liberal arts colleges, and through campus ministries at secular universities. That’s one reason we decided to post our annual Christian college fact sheet with our annual campus ministry directory in the same month. A dying world needs thoroughly committed young disciples, and the evidence shows they can be developed in many settings.
I still worry about Christian parents who send their kids off to college without any discussion or investigation about how faith development will happen on their chosen campus. We’re hoping the encouraging reports and thoughtful articles posted this month will be required reading for every family with a high school junior or senior as well as the youth ministers who know them.
The ministries listed in these two directories need our encouragement, emotionally and physically as well as financially. The result of our engagement will help us as well as the colleges and campus ministries we support. When we learn about and lift up the college ministries close to us, we may find God at work in new ways in our own lives as well.
Get our whole August issue, “God at Work on Campus” for your smartphone or tablet. Learn how here.
Three college administrators talk about the future of Christian colleges in the August episode of Beyond the Standard. Hear them live, 11 a.m. Eastern time, Thursday, August 28. Or hear the archived panel discussion anytime after that. Clay Perkins, Michael Sweeney, and Jon Weatherly share frustrations as well as possibilities about the current college scene. Listen here.