Brave new world

UKirk seeks to reconnect church with college-age young adults

August 13, 2013

UKirk Communications Director Jerry Beavers tells Evangelism & Church Growth conference why college students are disengaged from church —Danny Bolin


If you went through adolescence to adulthood before 2000, brace yourself ! The world as you know it is fundamentally different than the world emerging adults (18-29) know.

“Those who have gone through this (growing-up) process after 2000, their world is now totally different than the way you live and interact,” said Jerry Beavers, communications director for UKirk, a network of collegiate ministries for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Speaking to an Evangelism & Church Growth conference plenary at Big Tent, Beavers said that UKIRK — meaning “University Church” — was formed to staunch some of the hemorrhaging of Presbyterian young adults who have been dropping out of church at a rapid pace since 2000, because of these drastic changes.

“My heart is saddened. We haven’t done a good job reaching the current generation,” Beavers said. “By the time Presbyterian youth are 21-22, 60 percent of them have become disengaged, even those who were active in youth group.”

Beavers, who gave the top reasons why college students disengage from church, said collegiate ministry has completely changed over the last two decades.

Top six reasons why college students are leaving church according to Jerry Beavers —Paul Seebeck

“Twenty years ago it was about apologetics, defending the faith. Now it’s about relationships, people,” he said. “Everything for them has changed except the church. We’re trying to frantically catch up.”

UKIRK is in the process of forming at least 101 new worshiping communities on college campuses in coming years.

Through worship, Bible Study, fellowship and service, congregations and presbyteries hope to live out their mission to reach, love and teach college students so that they may be lifelong followers of Jesus Christ.”

“It’s a different way of thinking,” said Beavers. “In the past, presbyteries looked with suspicion on campus ministry, but now they will be connected to church and worshiping communities, where congregations see college ministry as a mission to support.”

Big Tent, Aug. 1-3, was a celebration of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission and ministry organized around the theme “Putting God’s First Things First.” It’s composed of 10 national Presbyterian conferences, more than 160 workshops and special events to mark the 30th anniversary of the formation of the PC(USA) and the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Presbyterian Center here.

  1. Crossroads United Campus Ministry, LaCrosse WI (UCC, United Methodist, Presbyterian, American Baptist, Episcopal) has a new building and a new partner, ELCA Campus Ministry. Historically we had some Presbyterian funding. Would like to be added on your radar and renew ties. We are now Common Ground Campus Ministry, on campus at UW-L.

    by Laura Hoglund, Campus Minister

    September 19, 2013

  2. Top ten reasons: Why "You Lost Me"... These aren't new concepts. Nor is the concepts that it's really about relationships. It's rather interesting that the church uses impersonal surveys to find out that its about relationships and our relationship to the our savior. What is new is, the formation of questions to garner results to support a story, the gathering of data and overuse of data.

    by Stephen Thompson

    August 14, 2013

  3. Youth at our church aren't leaving. They are engaging. College students...young adult....why? Because we aren't afraid of getting it wrong and leaning. Get with it! Get with them!

    by Sarah Bigwood

    August 13, 2013