How is the Christian student doing in the modern “secular” university? In The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom’s recent analysis of higher education, students are said to be faced by the unusual pairing of nihilism and hedonism. Bloom and other commentators tell us most students simply do not care about the “big questions”: What is life for? What should I do with my life? Can I make a difference?

The church, then, faces a real challenge, since the big questions are the ones Christianity considers important, and the ones about which it can offer guidance.

What can the church do to help students not only survive the university, but engage it—with a maturing and thoughtful passion for God, their culture, and their world?

Recently 2,000 students met in Pittsburgh to “examine together the meaning of the coming of the kingdom of God in our daily lives, in our studies, and in our world.” Such was the purpose of Jubilee ’87, a conference sponsored annually by the Coalition for Christian Outreach.

CHRISTIANITY TODAY gathered five professionals in campus ministry, all at Jubilee ’87, and discussed with them what today’s secular university students are like and how they can be reached.

The panelists included Elward Ellis, the national director of black campus ministry for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship; David Gill, president of New College, Berkeley, California; Jerry Herbert, associate director of the Christian College Coalition’s American Studies Program in Washington, D.C.; Dick Keyes, director of the L’Abri Fellowship in Southborough, Massachusetts; and Gene Thomas, now a businessman in Boulder, Colorado, but formerly a staff member with InterVarsity ...

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