With a desire for reconciliation and a heart for truth, this generation of students has a strong drive to make a difference in this world, and here at the Bridge Program, we want to help them do just that. Unfortunately, students are under attack and are facing many cultural barriers that can hinder their impact. A major hindrance is that with more than 3,000 hours of screen time a year, technology is distracting and “discipling” students, giving them a worldview that is shaped by the current culture rather than by the Word of God. As a result of so much screen time, another barrier that students are facing and experiencing is loneliness and depression like no other generation before them.
“ADDITIONALLY, AS OUR POST-CHRISTIAN CULTURE INCREASINGLY MARGINALIZES CHRISTIANITY, IT IS CRITICAL FOR THOSE OF US WHO CARE ABOUT THE NEXT GENERATION NOT TO TAKE A BUSINESS-AS-USUAL APPROACH TO THEIR FORMATION. IF WE DO NOTHING, THEY WILL BE SHAPED AWAY FROM LIFE WITH GOD IN CHRIST. WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO REIMAGINE WHAT PASSING ON OUR FAITH TO THE NEXT GENERATION LOOKS LIKE IN THIS UNIQUE CULTURAL MOMENT. LET’S BE CREATIVE, COURAGEOUS AND FAITHFUL!” (JOHN MORROWS)
If we do nothing, they will be shaped away from life with God in Christ.
“70% of evangelical Christian youth will leave the faith in college” ~Lifeway Research Study
“63% of churched students don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of the one true God. 58% believe all faiths teach equally valid truths. 51% don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead. 65% don’t believe Satan is a real entity. 68% don’t believe the Holy Spirit is a real entity.” ~The Last Christian Generation by Josh McDowell
About 25% of college professors are professing atheists or agnostics (5-7% of the general population is atheistic or agnostic). Only 6% of college professors said the Bible is “the actual word of God.” 51% described it as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts.” 75% believe religion does not belong in public schools. http://coldcasechristianity.com/2018/are-young-people-really-leaving-christianity/
The Solution that the Bridge Program encourages, is for students to build bridges between:
self & GOD: The current generation of students need to know why they believe what they believe. It’s important to know how to fight through their own doubts and it’s equally important to know how to stand up for their faith. As a result, we have created an environment where Bible Study, Identity in Christ, and Discipleship can help students discover reasonable responses to objections to their faith. This gives them safe space to ask questions and explore their doubts. It’s incredible to see students’ confidence grow and their faith come alive as they wrestle through tough questions within a Biblical community.
self & COMMUNITY: We were all made for healthy relationships. Unfortunately, busyness, isolation, and many other barriers exist that hinder healthy life-long friendships. A major theme throughout all Bridge activities will be to help students cultivate grace and truth relationships with one another because we are convinced that relationships are the most powerful shaping influence in a person’s life.
now & FUTURE: We need rhythms to help us practice our faith not just now, but to walk us into our future. Students can’t build a strong worldview if they never practice it. One of the main rhythms that we will focus on is studying, understanding, applying, and enjoying God’s Word daily. Other rhythms will include prayer, worship, healthy community, sharing our faith, as well as church and ministry involvement. Interacting with God through these spiritual practices directly affects our desires and our character, so helping students create a rhythm where these practices are part of their daily lives is a top priority to help carry them into their future.
SENDING STUDENTS TO COLLEGE THESE DAYS CAN BE A GAMBLE. OUR HOPE IS THAT THE EXPERIENCE WILL ONLY MAKE THEM STRONGER. UNFORTUNATELY, THE DATA SAYS OTHERWISE. AT THE BRIDGE PROGRAM, WE UNDERSTAND THAT BEING IN THE WORLD IS INEVITABLE. HOWEVER, FOR THE SAME VALUE, STUDENTS CAN BE EQUIPPED AND PREPARED THROUGH AN OPPORTUNITY TO ANSWER THE CHALLENGE TO DEFINE THEIR PURPOSE.
Additional benefits of taking a year off of the traditional college pathway
The evidence is overwhelming that taking a gap year is incredibly valuable. In addition to the reasons above, an experience like ours also gives students the ability to grow in their faith and to mature into the person whom God has designed them to be all within the context of a healthy Christian community.
Moreover, what really sets the Bridge Program apart from other gap year programs is being able to cultivate relationships with others from diverse racial, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds in the context of community while they discover and live out their divine calling both now and in the future.