College students often get a bad rap when it comes to their faith. They’re often cited as the age group that leaves the church in droves or is less religious overall. But the director of one of the largest Christian student missions conferences wants to clarify some things.
Ruth Hubbard is the director of Urbana 2018. Since 1946, this global event led by InterVarsity has drawn some 300,000 people, mainly college students. She recognizes that students who are around 18 or 19 years old start “asking a lot of hard questions about the faith of their parents and grandparents, where they are wondering ‘are all the things that their parents and grandparents held as being part of the faith really what God intended?'”
But that’s natural, Hubbard told The Christian Post.
“College is an age where most of us begin to say, ‘I need to push away from what my parents have always taught me, and analyze it for myself.’ There is a natural kind of skepticism or questioning that is true for younger adults,” she said.
And while many students do reject the Christian faith, or at least some aspects of it, Hubbard clarified that a lot of times what they’re rejecting is not Christianity, per se.
“Many of us have the tendency to take the culture in which we live and the faith that we hold to, and merge those things together,” she explained. “I think that has been particularly true for the West, and for a majority of cultures.”
Thus, what the young generation is rejecting is “not necessarily the God of the Bible, but rather this sort of mushed-up faith expression,” where young people go, “I think some of that has nothing to do with God.”
Notably, Hubbard said that Urbana conferences have not seen any “dramatic drop in attendance.” The most recent one, held in 2015, drew nearly 16,000 people. Any decrease in numbers they see is not due to a lack of interest among youths in spiritual matters, but rather “the fact that there are more conferences that students can choose from” now, the director noted.
Helping Students Find Their Calling
The next Urbana conference will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, in December. The main mission of Urbana is to “call generations to surrender to Christ’s lordship” and to help students find their calling and join “the Lord’s global mission whether across campus, zip codes, or the world.”
Hubbard first attended Urbana in 2000. It was at that conference that she felt led to spend the next 14 years of her life serving at Wycliffe Bible Translators, which promotes literacy and helps people around the world translate the Word of God into their own languages.
When it comes to inspiring students to find their calling, sometimes the Gospel can be oversimplified to being “only about telling people about Jesus so they can be saved, go to Heaven and live happily ever after,” she pointed out. But more than that, it’s about living out the Gospel in every aspect of their lives.
Hubbard referred to the book of Matthew, where Jesus taught believers to pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,” and said people need to consider what that looks like in their lives.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Stoyan Zaimov