Research shows college has positive impact on Christians’ faith

USA (MNN) — Pew Research recently came out with new information showing that while the average college graduate is oftentimes less religious than non-degree holding Americans, Christians with a college degree are usually more committed to their faith than those with a high school education or less.
Christian Faith in College
The Pew Research study shows that colleges and universities aren’t destroying the Christian faith, but actually strengthening it.

“I think what the Pew study points out to us is that the myth that people go to college to lose their faith is actually a myth. That, in fact, the secular university campus may be one of the most significant accelerators for faith that the Evangelical Church has,” InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s Senior Assistant to the President Greg Jao explains.

Jao believes there are three reasons to explain the Pew Research findings. For one, some students choose to attend Christian colleges, where the Christian worldview intermingles with academics. This co-curricular approach allows faith to become a foundational pillar in their education, increasing the community of like-minded academic Christians across the nation.

InterVarsity seeks to train students on how to engage their peers with the message of Jesus and to become effective leaders beyond college. (Photo courtesy of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship)

On top of this, the collegiate experience allows students to reflect and examine their own worldviews. For Christian students, they come face-to-face with differing worldviews and learn how to articulate their own beliefs in the learning environment.

However, one of the biggest differences is that Christians at non-religious institutions have the unique opportunity to own their own faith.  It’s up to students to choose to show up to Bible studies, to attend church on their own, to seek out Christian campus ministries, and even invite friends to hear the Gospel.

InterVarsity is on college campuses to help. In fact, InterVarsity is still seeing students coming to faith on college campuses across the United States.

“So, ministries like InterVarsity come alongside those students. And I think we try to do three things. We try to make sure they’re deeply grounded in the Scriptures by studying it for themselves, rather than just digesting what a pastor or youth pastor might have given them,” Jao explains.

(Photo courtesy of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship)

InterVarsity also helps equip students with books from InterVarsity press and other resources written by great authors and Bible scholars. And InterVarsity also seeks to connect students with alumni and others who have been walked this path of faith in college before.

Ultimately, says Jao, they’re seeing that “when we send our students to college, in fact, more of them have stayed Christian and are more involved, more deeply committed to their faith, than when we don’t. And I hope the Pew survey causes us to rethink higher education — not as a danger that we have to save our students from, but as an incredible mission opportunity for the Church.”
Engaging With Students
Jao also encourages churches to engage with their college students — beyond a youth group program. Instead, he suggests church members spend time with their young people, engaging with Scripture and discussing how it applies in the world across multiple vocations.

Will you take on this challenge and help support college students in their faith? If so, start by praying. Pray for the InterVarsity ministry as several campus chapters wrap up their final weeks of the school year with students. Please also pray for the ministry as it will soon be starting student leadership teams in week-long chapters, preparing students for the coming year.

Want to walk alongside college students with InterVarsity? Click here to learn more!