Today I received from the Stanford Office for Religious Life the names of all three of the Assemblies of God students planning to attend Stanford next year. That’s right–three. Out of around 1,400. There was also a Foursquare student and a few from independent charismatic churches. Let’s say there are about 10–15 Pentecostal/charismatic students in total.
Even given that only 4% of teens attend a Pentecostal or Charismatic church, that’s pretty sad. If even 4% coming to Stanford were Pentecostal/charismatic that would be over 50 incoming freshmen. That’s a discrepancy of 70% (in other words, 70% fewer students are Pentecostal or Charismatic than you would expect)!
That doesn’t bother me for the reason you might think. Chi Alpha @ Stanford is primarily an evangelistic organization. While we do want to take care of incoming Christian students and help them mature in their faith, we’re primarily concerned with reaching the majority who have no religious background at all (much less a Christian one).
It’s not so much that I wish there were more students to plug into our group as I wonder why more coming in aren’t believers. These numbers, while only directly reflecting on Pentecostals are representative of what the other ministries are receiving.
There’s been a massive renaissance in youth ministry over the last decade, and there’s tons of articles on the burgeoning evangelical intellectuals: so why aren’t there more arriving at Stanford? Is it that we strongly discourage our gifted youth from attending secular schools or is merely the sad fact that most “Christian” students can’t wait to escape from their youth group?
In any event, if the other elite schools are seeing similar trends the intellectual future of American Christianity isn’t looking particularly robust…