It’s no secret that one of the most critical skills to be mastered in relay races is the smooth passing of the baton. You can have great runners on a relay team, but if you blow it on the pass you can still wind up disqualified. Just ask our Olympic track team from the Beijing Games back in 2008. Both men’s and women’s teams were heavily favored to win their 4x100 meter relay races, and twice in a 30 minute span the Americans fumbled the baton in preliminary heats, taking both teams out of the finals. There were no legitimate excuses, just a lack of concentration, and two very disappointed teams to make the long journey home.
I was reminded of those Olympic Games as I pondered the report of another college student walking away from the faith of his early years. He came from a loving Christian family where Sunday church involvement was a given. He gave early promise of following in the footsteps of his parents’ faith. Scripture memory and serving others were woven into the routines of this fine Christian family’s life. But somewhere along the track of his collegiate years this young man lost his grip on the baton, and he hasn’t yet stopped to retrieve it. And like the Apostle Paul said to the Galatians, I wonder aloud, “You were running well, who hindered you from obeying the truth?”
I’ve recently shared with you my deep concern for the millennial generation, this broad cadre of young men and women in their 20’s and 30’s. While a number of characteristics set them apart, perhaps none is more sobering than the high rate at which many of these bright young men and women are abandoning their Christian faith. It’s not by any means a majority of those claiming an early faith in Christ. But research polls indicate that the number of those who do walk away and don’t return is clearly rising.
So, practically, how should this reality influence the shape of our ministry at Sanctuary? We have a strong youth ministry committed to partnering with parents in an effort to equip our guys and girls for the spiritual challenges ahead. The vast majority of the students growing up in our ministry leave this area to pursue school and work opportunities away from our community. And, we are miles away from the two closest college campuses, MPC and CSUMB, where other students of this generation gather. So, what can we do?
For one, our youth leaders are regularly invited to speak to the two Christian clubs on the campus of CSUMB, and their commitment is to keep challenging these students to a maturing walk with Christ. In addition, our entire staff team has made a commitment to be involved in campus ministry at one or the other of our two local schools. We’ve made some necessary contacts at the schools and made this new venture a matter of prayer and training in our regular meeting times together as a team. But we are just getting started and we covet your early partnership in prayer. There is currently no active ministry presence at MPC, and our goal is to have a visible presence there, initiating evangelistic conversations and encouraging Christian students to take part in an on-campus gathering.
Most of us are aware of the strong cultural currents pressuring millennials today to embrace a secular mindset. Nowhere is it clearer than on college campuses that a spiritual battle is being waged for the hearts and minds of the students there. Would you join our staff in praying for open doors and receptive hearts as we seek to strengthen our influence for Christ at these two local schools? If we can come alongside a student in the thick of their race, or even before they have begun to run, perhaps God would be pleased to use us to strengthen their grip or to be the first to pass on to them the baton of a vital faith in Jesus Christ.