U.S. College Students’ Spirituality Needs Direction

A new survey shows interest in spirituality is high among America's university students. But although the results come as no surprise to the head of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) , he contends the survey's findings represent both good news and bad news.

The survey, released by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California in Los Angeles, found that more than half of the students surveyed place a high value on integrating spirituality in their daily lives. (See related story) Recently, as a guest on Mission Network News, IVCF president Alec Hill remarked that the survey's results were no surprise to him, since he has had ample opportunity to observe the dynamism of the young adults on U.S. campuses.

“This group of students — they want to take the world,” Hill says. “They're interested in justice; they're interested in changing things. So they're a great group to work with because they're spiritual, and they're change agents.”

The good news about these young people,” the InterVarsity spokesman says, “is that there's a spiritual quest going on” within them, and they are actively seeking a connection with something higher than themselves. “The bad news is that seeking — that religiosity, if you will — is not well defined.”

Hill says the buzzword on many campuses these days is tolerance. “And, of course, tolerance sounds good,” he adds, “but in its current form it sometimes speaks against true truths. So we have students who kind of want a smorgasbord of spirituality, but they don't really want to be nailed down to tenet creeds and beliefs.”

The Higher Education Research Institute survey found that more than 80 percent of students identified themselves as seekers. Their openness to things spiritual has positive aspects, but IVCF's president asserts, “the downside is this sense of wanting a smorgasbord of spirituality, as opposed to something that's more coherent in terms of orthodox Christianity.”

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship exists in part, Hill notes, to “disciple students and faculty to be good stewards of their intellectual gifts, for service in both the Church and the world.” The trick, he says, is to create a missiology that relates to the current generation without compromising the wholeness, integrity, and truth of the Gospel message.

According to Hill, the results of the UCLA survey suggest that this generation of seekers may be more culturally ready than some others to be drawn to Christ and live their faith out loud. As the 2004-2005 academic year comes to a close, IVCF is asking believers to pray for more student leaders to share the Gospel and more funding to support outreach on U.S. campuses.

(This article courtesy of Agape Press).

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