COMMENTARY | Chase Abner
Recently, I was at an event for church leaders that focused on the state of marriage in America. There were audible gasps and shaking heads as speakers shared statistics indicating the declining support for a traditional view of marriage.
My first reaction was, “How is this news surprising to anyone?” Perhaps I was being a little smug. I forgot that not everyone
has had my experience peering into the worldviews of college students for more than a decade.
And from my days as an undergraduate until now, I’ve witnessed a steady, quickening march towards a new definition of sexual morality, and, yes, marriage.
My experiences as a student, campus minister, and IBSA’s collegiate evangelism strategist have given me a unique perspective on how attitudes and ideas on campus are very predictive of where public opinion is heading. By the time a hot-button issue hits the heartland, it’s already been debated and settled by the opinion makers on campus.
As Christians, and as church leaders, we can’t afford to ignore the fact that worldviews are formed on college campuses. Simply put, recent college graduates are extremely influential in our communities and they, most likely, have been steeping in a culture where Jesus is not honored as king and the Bible is not respected. And relativism isn’t the only obstacle to the gospel. There are absolute truths found on campus—even sacred ones—but they aren’t necessarily truths that Christians can embrace.
Students who are graduating from our colleges and universities go on to lead influential lives. They’re teaching in our schools. They’re being elected to lead our governments. They are lawyers, doctors, and more. They are getting married and raising children.
Campuses are where young, energetic, gifted people are figuring out how they will leave their mark on the world. They are mission fields where the nations are gathering to formulate their worldviews, and training grounds for the next generation of great church leaders.
Shouldn’t reaching college students be a central component of our churches’ mission strategy?
It is nearly impossible to overstate the church’s opportunity to change the world through college ministry. In Illinois, we have more than 200 campuses representing over 900,000 college students. And 43,000 of those are international students.
Chase Abner directed the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Southern Illinois University before moving to Springfield to serve as IBSA’s collegiate evangelism strategist.