InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, one of the largest college ministries in the country, has released results from a survey of Gen Z Christians who gave feedback on their “attitudes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The survey of current InterVarsity students across the U.S. was conducted in order to analyze students’ ministry needs after the organization transitioned to remote programming as a result of the pandemic.
Following the trend of what other studies have confirmed, InterVarsity’s study found that “limited social interactions and lack of community as a result of the pandemic” has led to a general “decline” in mental health among students. Most cited their school work as being one of the biggest challenges of the last 18 months, with “loneliness or isolation” being the second most difficult challenge cited.
Other significant challenges listed were “fear about the direction of the country,” coming in at 32% and personal or familial “financial hardship,” which ranked at 12%. About seven percent of respondents listed “racial trauma” as their most significant challenge.
The survey pool included 316 Christian college students at 127 different colleges. The majority were female and White (65% and 62% respectively), with 18% of survey respondents being Asian, seven percent Black, five percent Latino/Hispanic, and five percent multiracial.
When students chose the top three areas where they felt like they needed discipleship resources the most, the majority chose additional guidance for studying the Bible and prayer, and about half desired more discipleship in areas surrounding relationships. Twenty-two percent said “human sexuality/gender identity,” and 20% said “racial injustice.”
“I’m deeply encouraged that the top areas Gen Z students want to grow in are in studying Scripture and developing a deeper prayer life,” said InterVarsity’s president and CEO, Tom Lin, via a press release this week. “Scripture study and prayer are central to how InterVarsity is addressing the loneliness and isolation Gen Z students have experienced this year, and they are the lens through which we understand and engage social issues.”
Similarly, when given the option to choose the top three social issues that matter to them the most, 39% of the survey respondents chose racial justice and 29% said climate change. Not far behind is “foster care, adoption, or orphan care,” at 28%. “Reducing abortion,” “religious tolerance/freedom,” and “police reform/criminal justice reform,” ranked in that descending order, all scored around 25%.
These results are congruent with surveys and polls done of the wider Gen Z population, who have been at the forefront of social justice protests over the last year. Previous social movements, such as the March for Our Lives protests for gun control and the School Strike for Climate have also been spearheaded by Gen Z.
“Emerging from the past year of racial unrest, we’re seeing how the social issues that our nation reckons with are also at the forefront of our students’ minds,” said Greg Jao, chief communications officer at InterVarsity, in the press release. “As a campus ministry, it’s crucial for us to help students navigate both these issues and how to live out their faith from a Biblical perspective in real-time on college campuses.”
Established in 1941, InterVarsity has expanded to 769 campuses, serving thousands of students nationwide.