Plugging Students to God on College Campuses

On a new and larger campus, freshmen discover a new found freedom to make their own choices. But sometimes, those choices end up costing them.

"In high school, I was already exposed to a lot of stuff, but I chose not to be around it too much. But coming to college it's right there; it's next door," said one student on a newly launched video produced by Youth Transition Network (YTN), a growing coalition of youth and college ministries dedicated to decreasing the loss of youth from the church.

YTN has a Web site ( up and running for this fall's newest wave of college students and high school seniors to help get them plugged in to Christian campus ministries and find them a roommate who is aligned to their values and faith. The site currently boasts 4,700 ministries on 3,000 campuses nationwide, giving America's youth the opportunity to connect with a ministry even before they step onto the big campus.

Advertising the online community is a new YouTube posting, which launched last week, exposing students to the reality of transitioning into college life.

"The first week it's just parties going on everywhere. And I was just going around going nuts trying to meet people. I did get sucked in to that party scene really quick," said one student in the video.

"Everyone has to make their own choices, but in one way or another, it's going to catch up to you and it's going to cost you," warned another student.

Studies have shown a majority of young adults drop out of the church during their college years. LifeWay Research recently found that more than two-thirds of young adults who attend a Protestant church stopped attending church regularly (at least twice a month) for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22. Moreover, 34 percent said they had not returned to church by age 30.

"When young people first step on to the college campus, they become so overwhelmed by all the novelties that they encounter and can easily tune out," commented Jesse Anderson, executive director of Apostolos Campus Ministry, one of over 75 organizations that are part of the National Network of Youth Ministries.

"At a time like that, churches and campus ministries have to make greater efforts to reach out to them and get them settled spiritually as well as physically," he added.

Jeff Schadt, who heads the Youth Transition Network, is trying to halt the exodus. And he's got on board thousands of national ministries, including some of the largest and most prominent such as Campus Crusade for Christ, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and Youth for Christ.

He said he's going straight to the Internet to reach today's generation of young people.

The new YTN video aims at getting high school seniors thinking about what they're going to face when they enter college; reaching "lost sheep" who have already experienced "bad stuff" on campus; and reaching nonbelievers on campus especially students who may be on the road to flunking because of partying too much, Schadt explained.

Campus ministry is a major part of keeping students from straying.

"In a way, the campus ministry to me, if I could sum it up … are friends for life," said a student on the video. "They want to be positive and encouraging."

YTN is awarding a $5,000 scholarship to anyone who applies at plus 10 iPod Nanos.

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