What young people are looking for


Jim Strader, a priest in the Diocese of Arizona who is working in college ministry has offered a long reflection occasioned by an article on college ministry published in the NYTimes.

I’m particularly taken though by something that Jim reports at the end of his post:

The Rev. Dr. Thomas Lindell [A deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona and professor at the University of Arizona -wnk] teaches a class in Science and Theology. He recently offered his students a questionnaire asking them to respond to the following question: ‘If we were to create a religion what would it look like?’ His students’ responses included the following characteristics:

  • “safe, no pressure”
  • tolerance of diversity,inclusive, mutual support
  • Mutual sharing
  • Okay to ask questions
  • Grounding through the Golden Rule, Kindness, Compassion, Love, Altruism
  • A non-supernatural, theistic G-d
  • Community and meal sharing as foundational for returning more than once
  • Development of liturgies for significant life experiences, seasonal events

How interesting that so much of what these young people are looking for can already be found in a standard, middle of the road Episcopal Church…

Read the rest here: NY Times & Campus Religion

(Via Vocatio! – Living into Call.)

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. What on earth would a “non-supernatural, theistic God” be? The phrase manages to be both meaningless and redundant at the same time.

  2. Caelius Spinator says

    I really hope that it doesn’t mean a God who listens to your prayers and then doesn’t do anything about them.
    I may have less snarky things to say later on these items.

  3. A MacArthur says

    These characteristics would also describe such groups as the Boy Scouts. I am wondering if the students are exhibiting a mistrust of mystical experiences. In other words have they given up on the possibility of communing with the Divine.

  4. A recent study out of UCLA on undergraduates’ spirituality (http://insidehighered.com/news/2007/05/08/spirituality) indicates some of the challenges faced on campuses trying to respond to students’ search for meaning. Many more parties than campus ministries are drawn into these quests. Matters of faith and matters of personal and professional development are often commingled in students’ conversations with faculty mentors and others (academic advisors, student affairs personnel)—persons who may not have the appropriate education to deal with faith issues or whose professional role makes such intervention inappropriate.

  5. As a young person/college student myself, I beg to disagree.
    A safe place to ask questions should be offerered, but there should always be at least some answers. Otherwise, people end up leaving in frustration.
    A “non-supernatural God?” That phrase itself seems contradictory. God, by definition, IS supernatural – above our understanding of the natural world.
    And “the sharing of a meal” is nothing without the Holy Eucharist.
    It should be noted that this list was compiled from a class of students in a “Science and Theology” class. I think the list would be different if taken from a general sampling of students.
    Above all, I think people just need to know that God loves them. They need to understand that, and be offered a safe place to walk with the God who loves them.
    I’m writing a blog about this soon, so stay tuned! 🙂

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