I first wrote about this topic in 2016, but my burden for university and college students has grown exponentially since then. I’m convinced we can change the world for Christ if we reach this group; in fact, I want the next season of my ministry career to include investing even more in college students.
1. There are a lot of them. More than 19 million students are in colleges and universities in the United States. That’s a “people group” unto themselves — a mission field often within a short distance of our churches.
2. They are in a critical stage of life. They are inquisitive, open and questioning. They’re being exposed to theories and worldviews other than Christian. If we can reach them now while they’re open, the rest of their life will be transformed.
3. God has often begun awakenings with college students. In the Second Great Awakening, God moved at places like Hampden-Sydney College and Williams College (where the “Haystack Meeting” occurred). The 1970 revival that began at Asbury College in Kentucky spread to multiple campuses in the U.S. — and we recently saw glimpses again of that movement.
4. They are the nations among us. More than 1 million international students attend colleges and universities in the U.S. Many are open to talking about religious matters, and some will have their first exposure to the gospel on their university campus. The fields are ripe.
5. When they follow the Lord, they do so with great passion. My faith is challenged when I hang out with students willing to give their lives to take the gospel to the nations. When they truly know the Lord, they dig into His Word and fight for holiness. We need them in our churches.
6. They want to do social ministry as a means toward evangelism. The world has obvious needs, and college students are ready to help meet those needs. They want to get their hands dirty in ministry even while they are telling others about Jesus.
7. They need — and genuinely want — mentors. Give them just a few minutes, and they’ll flock to you. They want cross-generational relationships that help them navigate life. The local church wins when older Christian mentors and young mentees connect.
8. They rightly challenge us to explain our faith. They’re not interested in superficial, routine Christianity. Rather, they want authenticity, depth, and relevance — and they’re unafraid to ask questions we should be ready to answer.
9. They need face-to-face relationships with believers. In fact, they who have been raised on electronic communication need face-to-face relationships in general. To have genuine friendships with older believers and strong Christian families is ideal.
10. They are the leaders of today and tomorrow. I know that sentence sounds cliché, but it’s right. We have an opportunity to influence their lives today for the sake of the gospel tomorrow. Don’t miss it!
Take some time today to learn about college and university students near your church. Reach out to them. If you’re not within driving distance of a campus, spend intentional time in prayer for those leaders who are.