Making Good Transitions
From High School to College
Saying Connected to the Body of Christ
The vision and mission of New Covenant Academy is to prepare students to academically and spiritually succeed in a post-secondary world. In order to accomplish such a goal, the high school Bible department has begun focusing on students’ college transitions. Statistics have shown that between 40-60% of Christian students who go on to college become inactive in their faith during those years. Moreover, 33% of those who become inactive in their Christian faith are shown to never dawn the door of a church again. This problem of inactive faith during a graduate’s college years can be seen in the following scenario for most Christian students.
Traditional preparations for college often includes:
Parents, churches, and schools prepare to send their student off to college. In doing so, the student is put through rigorous college preparation courses in school, becomes part of extra-curricular activities to promote his or her diversity, and is put through college planning seminars. Colleges are then examined and visited. Degree options, major and minors, are laid out and chosen. Applications for financial aid and scholarships are sent filled out and sent off. Everything is now set-up and planned out. The student knows where they want to attend, what degree he or she wants, and how to pay for it.
From all the research I have conducted, this is the typical scenario for both Christian and non-Christian students. So, what is the difference between the Christian and non-Christian scenario? Nothing! That is the problem. At what point are Christian parents, teachers, mentors, or pastors going to respond, “Great job planning for college! Now where do you plan on going to church? What churches did you visit while visiting college campuses? How do you plan on growing spiritually while you are growing academically?” This is what New Covenant Academy is now doing different.
What NCA Bible Department is doing to reduce the church attrition rate
Unlike the multitude of Christian schools around the country that I have contacted during my research, New Covenant Academy has begun focusing on this college transition as a fulfillment of its vision and mission statements. During Bible class, students are given the research assignment to locate churches in the area of their choice colleges and look up campus ministries as found on each campus. Contact with pastors and campus ministers is made through email or by phone. A spiritual plan is developed by each senior to help students to be proactive when they reach their college campus rather than reactive. College campus ministers are asked to attend classes for a time of Q&A to help them navigate the uncharted waters of the freshman college campus. The hopes of such a curriculum adjustment is to drastically reduce the 40-60% church attrition rate to something much lower.
Source: "Christian School Comment" a resource of NCA's member institution, Association of Christian Schools International:
It is fundamental to our children’s discipleship process that we understand the difference between the road to Damascus and the road to the agora. What is Damascus and what is the agora? Damascus represents conversion. Paul was converted while on the road to Damascus. In today’s context, this represents a child’s personal decision to follow Christ. This decision is something we as parents earnestly and consistently pray for from the very moment of our child’s birth. Conversion is the first step toward the goal.
I’ve been honored to pray with each of my four sons during their personal conversions to Christ. My road to Damascus was different than their roads, but conversion was the same outcome.
The road to the agora is different. Agora means “the marketplace”; specifically, the meeting place for the ancient Greeks. At this meeting place business was conducted, issues were discussed and debated, and ideology of the culture formed and dispersed. Within the context of the importance of developing our children’s worldview, the agora represents the university and beyond to the epicenters of culture-forming entities—Hollywood, Wall Street, Washington, D.C., and the like.
The road to Damascus is part one of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20) and the prerequisite to making disciples. However, part two of Jesus’ charge to make disciples is the teaching and training element—preparing for the agora. I believe the Christian community has done an exceptional job at the evangelistic part of the Great Commission. These efforts should never decrease—if anything, they should increase. However, the strategic effort of teaching, training, and preparing our children for the agora is the most neglected aspect of discipleship for parents and the church. Research supports this claim. Too many of our children are walking away from the church. The agora is eating them up and spitting them out (Astin 2004; Gunnoe and Moore 2002).
It is vital to note that the discipleship of our children continues during their college years and even beyond. I call this the threephase cycle of transmitting our faith to the next generation. The first phase is marked by the 6,570-day period from birth to high school diploma (Flor and Knapp 2001). The second phase is the 1,500-day period during college. The third phase is life—work, marriage, and parenting. Of course, this is a simplified model of a much more complex array of spiritual, emotional, and physical maturity points. Grasping these three phases and the specific training needs during each one will help us get our arms around an ongoing discipleship plan. The key deliverable is a child whose spiritual maturity trajectory is constantly getting deeper. Their spiritual root system is gaining strength—they are ready for the agora (Land 2008)!
Parents are leading a massive movement in the country to embrace Deuteronomy 6:7–8 and take responsibility for their children’s training and discipleship. They are heeding the warning signs of the secular drift in our youth culture (Pearcey 2004). The road to the agora will require churches, parents, and Christian schools to continue to adapt and change their discipleship paradigms (Spears 2005). Christian school parents, you are on the front end of this movement, and I encourage you to continue your commitment to the biblical and transcendent cause of kingdom education.
References Astin, A. W. 2004. The spiritual life of college students: A national study of college students’ search for meaning and purpose. Los Angeles: Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA. Flor, D. L., and N. F. Knapp. 2001. “Transmission and transaction: Predicting adolescents’ internalization of parental religious values.” Journal of Family Psychology, 627–645. Gunnoe, M. L., and K. A. Moore. 2002. “Predictors of religiosity among youth aged 17–22: A longitudinal study of the national survey of children.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 613–622. Land, R. 2008. The state of the culture: We need a revival! Retrieved October 19, 2008, from Faith and Family Values(2): http://faithandfamily.com/documents/pdf/ magazine/2008-2.pdf Pearcey, N. R. 2004. Total truth: Liberating Christianity from its cultural captivity. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. Spears, W. D. 2005. Discovering the catalysts for growing true disciples in an emerging postmodern culture. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY.
As the mom of daughters, ages 2 and 4, I see the life-size playhouses and 5-foot teddy bears and wonder if I need to buy more for my children, and I'm not alone. According to a Today.com poll, parents spend an average of $271 per child for Christmas.
But parents of young children don't need to spend a lot to make the holidays merry. One mom I know wraps photos and artwork in Christmas paper as decorations and lets her toddlers unwrap them on Christmas morning. Another has a box of holiday books they only take out in December. And my brother-in-law's family has a yearly outing to look at Christmas lights and drink hot cocoa.
That is what they do to enjoy a less materialistic Christmas. Here is how I curtail my holiday spending:
Consider the age
One of my girls' favorite activities on Christmas morning is not playing with the presents, but crawling through the wrapping paper. Toddlers don't yet have the expectation of dozens of presents, so these early years provide us with a great opportunity to make Christmas more about Jesus than things.
Before my husband and I rush into holiday spending, we decide whether we want to focus on gifts under the tree or family experiences. Then we plan accordingly.
My girls are young and receive gifts from grandparents, aunts and uncles. So my husband and I give each girl a single gift. Whether you go with one gift or 10, setting a limit and putting thought into those presents reins in spending.
Resisting the urge to spend at Christmas can be difficult, but doing so helps create lasting memories and sparks new traditions aligned with your family's priorities.
Posted by written permission from Focus on the Family; this permission does not equate to endorsement of New Covenant Academy, Springfield, MO.
This article first appeared in the December 2016/January 2017 issue of Focus on the Family magazine.
Posted with written permission from Focus on the Family, and in no way signifies endorsement of New Covenant Academy, Springfield, MO.
Our culture’s obsession with self-esteem has a new vehicle, and it fits in your teen’s pocket: That’s right, their phone. Today’s adolescents prefer to watch Vine videos and YouTube over their parents’ former obsession with MTV. On average, teens spend a mindboggling nine hours a day using technology, most of which is sharing every detail of their lives on apps like Instagram and SnapChat. Their quest is to be affirmed.
Forget 15 minutes of fame. They’re only looking for six seconds — that’s the maximum length of a video on Vine, the app that claims personalities get “really big, really fast.” And they have the stories to prove it.
In 2013, two teens became famous for nerd-style vandalism, when they dressed the part and used a Sharpie to write “=16” after the “4x4” on their family’s SUV. They became overnight celebrities, canceled their college plans and parlayed their fame into a pop-rap act with sold-out tours nationwide.
Although watching that creative video is fun and harmless, hanging out online isn’t without risks. We already know that teens give away every detail of their lives — which can lure stalkers, provide bullies with potential fodder and affect how future colleges and employers view them. But there’s also a serious issue that is a growing problem with teens: technology and smartphone addiction. New research shows that half of American teens believe they are addicted to their smartphones.
Researchers believe that as teens become hooked on social-media apps, they are less able to regulate emotions, manage impulses and make good decisions. Social-media addiction also creates lower self-esteem — the direct opposite of what teens use social media for. This addiction has also resulted in the nation’s first cellphone addiction rehab center for teens.
The bottom line is that when our teens spend an excessive amount of time online, they are on a quest to find their identity by comparing themselves to others. The fame, beauty, wit, status and so-called identity of other online teens become the measuring stick by which they judge their value. And because they can never measure up, they are susceptible to anxiety and depression.
A parent’s greatest error could possibly be turning a blind eye to how much time teens spend online and what they’re doing there and why. Fortunately, there are a few things we can do to help our teens appropriately navigate technology and avoid becoming addicted to its allure and promises of identity, fame and celebrity status.
Set limits on what they can view
The biggest problem with a teen’s value being formed by media is that teens are often being lied to. (How many of those Instagram photos of your daughter’s friends aren’t perfected beyond reality? Is Kanye’s newest music video really an expression of the art of love as he claims, or could it be mild porn?)
One reason we set limits is so that our children can live in the real world with real relationships — friends who have zits and, gasp, pores and love relationships built on serving each other, not lusting after each other. What can you do? Limit the exposure and boycott the bad stuff. It’s OK to say no. I’m the parent. It’s my job to discipline and correct them when their tastes and desires run counter to God’s best for them.
Set limits on how long they can view
Almost a quarter of all teens admit to being online “almost constantly.” You’ve seen it — you go out to eat with your family and you notice teens at other tables who have no interaction with the people they’re with because they’re busily attending to their smartphones. It’s OK in these situations, too, to say no to your kids.
Limits on social media are a small cross to bear, but will feel like one nonetheless to a teen. Yet just as we set curfews because we love our teens and want to keep them safe, we can set time boundaries on how much our teens can use technology, and when they definitely should not, such as while eating or during other specified times of the day.
Remind them of their identity in Christ
Christ offers a real and lasting sense of worth. Instagram doesn’t. Self-denial, not self-esteem, is actually the solution to our insecurity as we find our value in Christ. Despite what the culture tells your teen, that’s the way to overcome their insecurity, not another follower on her Instagram profile.
Dannah Gresh is author of The 20 Hardest Questions Every Mom Faces.
This article first appeared on FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Copyright © 2016 by Dannah Gresh. Used by permission.