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Christian higher ed challenges: Parents of college freshmen weigh in

Question: The number of freshmen from Churches of Christ enrolled at Christian universities associated with our fellowship keeps shrinking. Why do you think that is?

Bruce Bates

Answer: The rise of the ‘Nones.’ Affiliations are done all over. This is an American phenomenon. But also we have to challenge our kids with purpose. I’m not sure yet if universities are painting well what students can acquire from our fellowship. Do they know their faith and investment in our fellowship can change the world? Do they know their university can lead to life fulfillment? — Bruce Bates, minister for Blackstone Valley Church of Christ in Cumberland, R.I., and father of Annie, a freshman at Harding University in Searcy, Ark.

Related: Christian universities feeling the pinch as Churches of Christ shrink

A: I believe the attendance in the universities is only reflecting what is happening in our churches. As we lose our identity and become more mainstream, we are losing our children to the liberal ideas of the mainstream. Thus, they see no difference between the education of a C-of-C school and a state college beyond Bible classes. The thoughts and ideas seen in articles and in the pulpit from CofC-school trained preachers and elders are no different than that of the liberal media. So what is the difference besides price unless you want to preach or go into the mission field? —  Sarah Jones, member of Airline Drive Church of Christ in Bossier City, La., and mother of Ashley and Cooper, both students at public universities

Jennifer Alpers

A: For the same reasons that young people are leaving the church in general. Many college freshmen have no faith of their own. They just do as their parents insist. I also believe the cost is a big issue. It’s twice as high as KSU! — Jennifer Alpers, member of Stafford Church of Christ in Kansas and mother of Luke, a freshman who visited Harding but chose Kansas State University because it had the major he wanted 

A: “Better programs at larger or state universities.” — Michelle Brown, member of Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City and mother of David, a freshman at Oklahoma Christian University

Related: Expanded interviews with Christian university leaders

A: There are many great opportunities elsewhere, and our schools are liberal arts schools, whereas many of our children are pursuing a more technical route for education. However, some schools, such as Harding, are still going very strong with retaining a good percentage of students within the Churches of Christ as well as adding programs in the science, engineering and medical fields. … All of this is being accomplished while staying true to their core mission of empowering men and women to be able to advance the cause of Christ with the powerful programs within the College of Bible and Ministry. — Stephen Paul Wolf, outreach minister for Edgemere Church of Christ in Wichita Falls, Texas, and father of Alexander, a freshman at Harding


Filed under: Christian higher education National Partners

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