The desire among young adults to make a difference in the world is increasing.
According to a report from the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, college student volunteering increased by 20 percent between 2002 and 2005, more than doubling the growth in the adult volunteering rate. 3.3 million college students volunteered in 2005, almost 600,000 more students than three years before.
As Ivy Jungle reported in its “State of Campus Ministry 2008,”
“Students have shown a significant increase in interest in social action. From Spring Break trips to causes like HIV/AIDS, poverty, and the genocide in Sudan, students have a heart for justice. This has led to a number of new evangelistic opportunities. Community service and mission trips have become entry points for non-believers. Events focused on combating sex trafficking or the World Vision Acting on AIDS campaign have generated great interest. Several groups report a significant increase in conversions. 86% of all campus ministries report someone coming to Christ in their ministry last year. This is despite a continued decline in ‘evangelism’ as a ministry program activity. Creating opportunities for service and helping students see the way social action connects with the gospel will continue to open doors for introducing students to Jesus Christ.”A gospel message that connects faith in Christ with the holistic gospel of the Kingdom of God resonates with today’s college students. As Ray Anderson writes in The Soul of Ministry, the church is the “result of the dynamic power and presence of the kingdom in the world.” Robert Webber reported in The Younger Evangelicals that new ministries by young evangelicals are realizing that “the church’s mission is to show the world what it looks like when a community of people live under the reign of God. The true gospel is portrayed best by the community that believes it, embodies it, and testifies to it in the midst of any given culture.”
Gabe Lyons, who commissioned the Barna Group to study young adults both inside and outside of the church to better understand a way to reach the next generation (see his UnChristian cowritten with David Kinnaman) writes about a new breed of Christians that has emerged, a group he calls “restorers.”
“I call them restorers because they envision the world as it was meant to be and they work toward that vision. Restorers seek to mend earth’s brokenness. They recognize that the world will not be completely healed until Christ’s return, but they believe that the process begins now as we partner with God. Through sowing seeds of restoration, they believe others will see Christ through us and the Christian faith will reap a much greater harvest.
They are purposeful about their careers and generous with their time and possessions. They don’t separate from the world or blend in; rather, they thoughtfully engage. Fully aware of the seachange under way, they are optimistic that God is on the move—doing something unique in our time.” – Gabe Lyons, The Next Christians: How a New Generation is Restoring the Faith (Doubleday, 2010), p. 47.