If your son or daughter is getting ready for college, you're probably feeling the mixed emotions of pride and nervousness: pride in your child's accomplishments and nervousness for . . . well, for a whole host of reasons.
If you're a Christian parent, for instance, you may be concerned for your son or daughter's faith. Maybe you know how many young adults with church backgrounds end up dropping out of church: 43 percent, according to David Kinnaman in his recent book "You Lost Me."
At least part of this trend stems from college lessons and experiences that can chip away at students' faith, leaving them unsure what they really believe.
As a friend of mine says, sending your children to college is like sending them off for "four-year brain and heart surgery." Now, there's more to that analogy than meets the eye. Surgery can be a good thing, but one has to prepare for it properly. And part of that is asking the right questions.
When you're having surgery, you want to know things like, how experienced is this surgeon? What's his or her track record? And most importantly, what exactly is going to happen to me?
But when it comes to choosing and preparing for college, too many students and parents focus on the wrong question. They want to know what the dorms are like or how good the football team is. Is there good food in the cafeteria? But what they really need to ask is, what's exactly going to happen to my son or daughter? How will this college affect their faith and worldview? Do students here get educated or indoctrinated?
For students and parents who want to know the right questions, and how to prepare for college, I'm pleased to recommend the book "Welcome to College: A Christian's Guide for the Journey," written by my friend Jonathan Morrow.
As the title makes clear, Morrow has written this book specifically for young students about to embark on the college experience. The tone is friendly and accessible, and the book deals with the breadth of college life, from picking roommates and classes to making sure not to park in the wrong spot!
But most importantly, "Welcome to College" lays out the basics of the Christian worldview, as well as the challenges that are likely to come to that worldview, in a way that students can understand and learn to apply -- in their college years and beyond.
Let me share an example of the kind of advice Morrow gives students:
Morrow writes, "Now that you have successfully survived high school, it's time to embark on the challenging process of owning your faith in college. Up until now, your parents and youth pastor have probably played a significant role in shaping your Christian convictions -- and that's a good thing. But your dad, mom, and youth pastor aren't here to tell you what to believe anymore. You will have to discover what you really believe. . . . There will be many voices offering their opinions. You'll have to decide which ones to listen to and why."
That's a personal story for me. When I went off to a so-called Christian college my freshman year, I was side-swiped by professors who questioned the truthfulness of Scripture and promoted the homosexual lifestyle. And I didn't know how to answer their challenges.
Students need to know what's coming.
"Welcome to College" offers a game plan for preparation that's up to the competition college brings. So, I hope you will pick up a copy for the student in your life. It is available here.
Folks, college doesn't have to be a faith-weakening experience for your child; as Morrow is helping to prove, it can be just the opposite.