Kara Powell, Chap Clark and Brad Griffin (no relation) have kicked off StickyFaith.org – a new website and book designed to help youth leaders and parents disciple their kids with a faith that lasts. I just got a copy of the book last week and am hoping to read it soon – until then I’ve been jumping around the new site a bit and found a great article on what new college freshman need to hear from their youth pastors:
Head there to check out the site and read the rest of the article, too!
Students’ biggest priority during the first two weeks of college is to establish friendships and figure out where they fit in. Across the board, the freshmen we interviewed indicated that these first two weeks are absolutely critical for creating a social life. The primary–and most accepted–way to do this in college is to engage in the party scene. All too quickly, partying becomes a regular part of the weekly routine for many freshmen.
Often, kids who come out of youth groups have been told over and over what “not to do.” We’re usually pretty good at giving them a list of temptations to avoid, but perhaps not as helpful in equipping students with healthier strategies for other real-life needs like finding friends. Our research affirms that the first few months of college can be incredibly lonely for students who are away from family and life-long friends for the first time, and who may show up not knowing a single other person on campus. Desperate to begin to build new relationships, students go where those from their immediate living situation (roommate, floor-mates) go to find friends. The last thing they want is to be “left behind” on a weekend night. And once they’ve tried the party scene they feel hypocritical if they then add commitments to Christian groups, simply layering “Christian” onto their new identity. Others intentionally decide to shelve their faith and “do the college thing,” intending to pick faith up again later after they’ve enjoyed the party scene guilt-free for a while.
In The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens after High School, sociologist Tim Clydesdale describes this freshman phenomenon as an “identity lockbox”. Students recognize that faith is “good for them” in some way as part of an adult lifestyle, but see it as something to put on hold in order to attend to the more immediate needs of their college lifestyle.