College Students Becoming More Spiritual But Less Religious

Over the past several years, UCLA researchers have been studying the spirituality of college students. What is intriguing is undergraduates tend to become more spiritual but less religious between their freshman and junior year. The Pew Forum recently shared the following findings from the study:

Religious Attendance

  • 43.7% of freshmen frequently attend religious services.
    25.4% of juniors frequently attend religious services.
  • 20.2% of freshmen never attend religious services.
    37.5% of juniors never attend religious services.

Measures of Spirituality

  • 48.7% of freshmen say “attaining inner harmony” is “very important” or “essential.”
    62.7% of juniors say “attaining inner harmony” is “very important” or “essential.”
  • 41.8% of freshmen say “integrating spirituality in my life” is “very important” or “essential.”
    50.4% of juniors say “integrating spirituality in my life” is “very important” or “essential.”
  • 62.8% of freshmen agree with the statement “most people can grow spiritually without being religious.”
    74.8% of juniors agree with the statement “most people can grow spiritually without being religious.”

Why the rise of spirituality but fall of religiosity?

Researchers believe two factors affecting this trend are:

  1. Many of these students are away from home for the first time, and we suspect that, for some students, religious observance before college is influenced by the presence of the family
  2. A greater deal of time is invested in studies during college than before college.

So what is the best way to reach these college students? Should a college ministry try to reverse the trend and get undergraduates to start attending a service? Or should a college ministry focus on bringing spirituality to the college campus?

For Discussion:
– What do you think?
– What recent college ministry success stories have you heard?