The transition from high school to college is one of the biggest leaps in a person's life, both physically and spiritually.
As children, we are taught God's Word and His love by our parents and the Christian community. They support a child's growth in maturity, provide encouragement and provide boundaries to help protect them. Transitioning from adolescence into young adulthood is often when a Christian's faith becomes their own. Independence is found as young adults begin providing for themselves through jobs, travel with their own vehicles and, in many cases, move far away from their families to attend a college filled with a melting pot of philosophies.
In 2006, the Barna Group published a study that found that an astonishing 40-50% of all youth group graduates do not stick with their faith or connect with a Christian community after high school. If almost half of those who are regularly attending a youth ministry become disconnected in college, what about those even less involved in church?
Why do students fall away from their faith?
The question I find myself asking when working with our college ministry is, "Why?" Last year, the Fuller Youth Institute completed a six-year study that, among numerous findings, found that 40% of college freshman reported having trouble finding a new church. In conversations with our students, particularly those who have moved out of the Central Florida area, I see this struggle happen, especially since the distributed church model has often never been taught to the Christians they interact with at college.
The other week, a student who was home for the summer told me of her attempts to connect with several on-campus ministries without ever feeling "at home." It makes me wonder ... how many students gave up after their first bad experience, or, out of fear, never tried to connect in the first place?
The distributed church model offers an exciting solution that is already part of who we are. By bringing house churches onto campuses where students from our ministry are going, Northland has the opportunity to create an atmosphere where students already feel comfortable and always remain connected. Students can connect with peers they have been worshiping with for years in service, but have possible never met, and continue worshiping together each week.
Forming house churches is a means to gather students in a worship setting with which they are familiar. Those communities can then take this journey together. House churches will serve as a connection point where students can respond, with confidence and a community around them, by connecting with on-campus ministries, forming small group discussions, serving together, praying for one another and going wherever God leads them.
This fall, Northland is inviting students to form house churches on college campuses. If you are a college student or a recent high school graduate, and are interested in helping to lead a house church on your campus, contact Michael Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information. This Sunday, July 8, we will have an information meeting in classroom 4206 in the main building at 5:30 p.m. Come join us for free pizza and help us plan something great!