The Barna Group’s research continues to tell us a story – a story about the church’s need to respond to the call to responsibly shepherd older teens and college students.
Here’s an excerpt from a study released in May of last year outlining how a nationwide sample of older teens responded to the question, “What do you think your life will be like 10 years from now?”:
The most common aspirations of teenagers were related to college and their professional pursuits. Finishing a college degree was their top-rated future priority. A majority of teenagers felt certain that they would accomplish this goal by age 25. In all, 93% of teenagers said they would either definitely or probably obtain a college degree by their mid-twenties.
Add to this David Kinnaman’s comments from Barna’s latest study (a follow-up to the one done a year ago):
With the vast majority of teenagers hoping to experience and graduate from college someday (see previous Barna study on this subject), Kinnaman suggested that college and career decisions represent an important opportunity for faith leaders to influence students. “Today’s teens have huge aspirations in life and a great deal of self-confidence that is sometimes out of proportion with their abilities. Taught to believe they can accomplish anything at anytime, many young people figure if they see a problem or a need, they can just start a new company or nonprofit to address it. And armed with technology, some of them are actually doing that.
“Still, many young people do not seem to understand how a rich, historic understanding of the Christian faith and the gospel ought to inform their career aspirations,” Kinnaman continued. “And faith leaders are not as intentional as they could be with instruction and coaching on these types of decisions. Understanding how teenagers hope to spend their professional lives can help faith communities and institutions better support these students as they discern God’s calling in their lives.”
Kinnaman is right in saying youth leaders should do more to guide young people toward making career decisions and future plans through the lens of faith, but couldn’t one also say more attention should be paid to intentionally ministering to students while they’re actually in college?
The moral of the story this research tells certainly indicates more could and should be done – 93% of the young people in this country are going to go to college, and 100% of them need to know Jesus.
If you are one who agrees with that statement, let me ask this: what are you willing to do about it?
I have some suggestions – more on this soon.