New online platform looks to reverse 70% faith dropoff for college freshman

Young adults worship at The Porch, a young adult community founded by Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas.
Young adults worship at The Porch, a young adult community founded by Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas. | Watermark Community Church

A new online platform has emerged with the goal of addressing the massive amount of Christian students who leave their faith during college by connecting them with other believers to establish or join Gospel-centered communities wherever they are. 

The faith-based nonprofit group Campus Renewal has launched an initiative called Every Student Sent. According to the organization, the effort hopes to reverse a trend in which 70% of students abandon their Christian faith after entering college. 

Every Student Sent replaces the previous platform of Campus Ministry Link, which was founded three years ago with a similar goal.

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The initiative enables Christian college students to access a database with information about “the campus ministries and Christian groups at nearly every school in the country.”

John Decker, the strategic partnership director for Every Student Sent, told The Christain Post that the platform will enable rising college freshmen to “apply to a college ministry.” From there, students can “join a social group around that ministry.

“[The] students actually get to meet with each other and work together before they land on campus and work with a campus staff member,” Decker said. “Therefore, whether the college is virtual or physical this year, they can build a community long before they arrive on campus.”

Decker believes that it is important to get students involved with campus ministries as early as possible in their college careers because “the first 72 hours on a campus often” dictate “which crowd a student will tag around with.” That crowd, he said, will “usually define their college spiritual experience.” 

Every Student Sent works to reinforce the vision of Campus Renewal, which is to “strengthen the influence of the body of Christ on campus” by “bringing students, campus ministries, and local churches together in prayer and evangelism.”

“To really grow as a Christian, your faith is cemented when … a student actually gets to lead another student to Christ,” Decker proclaimed. “We have seen that when students for the first time participate in leading their friends to Christ, their faith gets cemented.”

While the target audience for Every Student Sent is college students, the platform also features “special tools” for Christian high schools and churches so they can upload all of their students and then “check their progress,” Decker added.

But helping students maintain their faith is not the only mission of Every Student Sent. 

“It’s important that students find their correct career and major and calling. We have a growing set of resources to help them with that as well as helping students minimize student debt,” he added.

When asked what caused the massive dropoff in faith among college students, Decker explained that “students are not prepared with the right worldview.”

“They are not prepared for the social pressures that affect a young person,” he said. 

According to Decker, this problem appears to be getting worse, not better.

“It used to be that 30% of students would come back to their church by the time they were age 30,” the strategic partnership director said. “But now because culture is becoming less Christian, these students are not coming back to church as much anymore.”

Every Student Sent hopes to address the lack of preparedness among rising college students through “an extensive learning management system that incorporates missional training for students so they are ready for college,” he said. 

In addition, Every Student Sent is working with “major ministries and other leaders” to develop a “library of material” to help “make students college-ready.”

Decker is optimistic about the influence that Every Student Sent will have on the youth of the United States. 

“The amount of interest between leaders of all faiths and ministries and denominations is a testament to the fact that God’s bringing unity to youth missions," he said. "And so, this seems like an opportune time for a national awareness so that it becomes normal for every student to prepare and connect for college” using Every Student Sent.

In January 2019, LifeWay Research released survey data showing that about 66 percent of young adults who attended a Protestant church regularly for at least a year as a teenager dropped out for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22.

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