Christian college students are looking for help within the community to enhance Bible engagement and improve their prayer life.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship published a new study which found that nearly three-quarters, or 71%, of those surveyed said belonging to a Christian fellowship on campus was most helpful in enriching their Christian faith in college. More than half (59%) also said reading and studying the Bible has been beneficial to their spirituality, reports The Biblical Recorder.
These students are longing for community, they’re longing for hope and churches have a huge opportunity to serve them well. —Tom Lin, InterVarsity President and CEO
The study, entitled Christian Student Attitudes Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, showed that being involved in a Christian community has several positive effects on students as 66% said fellowship gave them a deeper understanding of God’s love for them. Sixty-five percent of them said they have a greater appreciation for friends in the community, and 60% has grown as a leader. Because of these benefits, a large majority (85%) of students plan to continue participation in a Christian campus group next school year.
“It’s a great opportunity for the church to serve them, to love them well. These students are longing for community, they’re longing for hope and churches have a huge opportunity to serve them well,” said InterVarsity President and CEO Tom Lin as he urged churches to meet the needs of young Christians.
North American Mission Board (NAMB) National College Director Paul Worcester backed Lin’s observation. Since a sense of belonging is important to Christian students, he encouraged churches to “Start with building those community relationships peer to peer, but also (students) really value input and mentoring from older generations, the generation above them.”
To strengthen their faith, 60% of Christian students said they want more resources on Scripture study, 52% want more guidance on prayer, and 47% want resources on relationships (dating and marriage).
“They really want to learn more about the Bible and how to live out their faith in today’s world. And I think if churches and we together help them navigate today’s world through the lens of scripture, we’ll do them a great service,” Lin pointed out.
Prayer is another aspect that is important to Christian students. More than half of those surveyed want to deepen their prayer life.
Worcester shared that at California State University in Chico where he is based, “they started five 6 a.m. prayer meetings and, if you know anything about college students, that’s a miracle. And they were tracking specific answers to prayer, so they were inspired by…missionary heroes like George Mueller and Hudson Taylor and people like that.”
Based on the survey, Lin said Christian students want more than the basic prayers they know, they want to deepen their knowledge as part of cultivating their faith while in college.
“One encouragement I want to share for churches is together we need to help students navigate today’s context with a biblical perspective,” he said.