by Dr. E. Brent Turner

Often, statistics hit us in the face – especially when given in several different sources. This statistic concerns me: Between 65 and 70 percent of high school graduates from church congregations leave the church when they leave for college and never return!

Many never find a new church home and put “church” on hold during these very important developmental years in their lives. Some may return to their home church after marriage and having children – missing years of spiritual grown!

This past spring, I taught a youth ministry class at Erskine College. The character of the students impressed me, and many were outstanding ARP youth. The class discussed how hard it was to grow and be involved in church while attending college – but at the same time realizing the importance of church involvement.

Many of these students are filling the void by becoming involved in campus ministries, but miss their home church. One student stated that although her home church occasionally sent her a note or cookies, she felt out of place when she returned for a visit.

She was too old for the youth program and felt she was too young for the adult program. And she felt out of place when she attended Sunday school with her mother. “I thought I was prepared for college – until I discovered how hard it was to adjust to college life,” she said.

I am totally convinced our churches need to better prepare our high school students for college life. I suggest the book Sticky Faith, by Dr. Kara Powell, Brad Griffin and Dr. Cheryl Crawford. Topics include: Finding a New Church & Campus Ministry; New Christian Relationships; Managing Time & Money; and Experiencing Loneliness.