So apparently, Yours Truly (who is always good for a one liner) got quoted in the University of Nebraska student newspaper's quotes of the week, which can be found here (about half way down the column). I think the quote is slightly taken out of context, but iI think its true nonetheless.
A student reporter called a week or two ago, saying she was doing a report of campus ministry. I am an officer in of the Association of Campus Religious Workers and well as a priest at a church on campus, so I guess I was a name on the short list of potential contacts.
We had a friendly chat for maybe 5 to 10 minutes about what sorts of activities St. Mark's does for students and various other things. I remember now the reporter asked me what the latest trend was for college students in terms of religious activities and interest, where I made this quote of the week.
And I think its true, believe it or not. Bible studies are the trendy thing apparently. The new students I have talked to that have either shown up for church or that I have ran into at various other times usually ask striaght up if we have bible studies. In fact it is one, if not the very first, thing(s) they ask. I know my wife, who worked in campus ministry for some years before we met, has also told me that bible studies were usually a big draw.
And, as I was telling the reporter, at least from my experience, this is rather a new thing. When I was in college about 10 years ago, I don't remember there being a huge draw if various religious groups offered bible studies. Seems to me that at the time, students were more interested and likely to show up in activities like pizza parties where a movie would be watched, so some such event. Perhaps with the growing psuedo-interconnection of social networks like facebook and constant text messaging that the need for actual social interaction is not as strong as it once was.
Perhaps my recollection is somewhat off the mark nationally, as I went to college at a nominally Baptist institution in the Bible belt. But I am still somewhat surprised when I have college students specifically ask about bible studies. At least when I was college age, and I think most people who knew me then would agree with me, that I would have been one of the last people interested in attending a regular bible study. This is ironic, seeing as ten years later, I am a full time priest who likes preaching and teaching on the Bible.
I would argue (amongst other reasons) that this is more a product of the more open nature that a lot of campuses (and American college culture in general) place on spiritual development these days. Obviously, this is not true in some areas, but I think many higher education campuses are not nearly as rabidly secular and, thus, hostile towards religion or religious establishments as they were back in the 60's or 70's.
Just some musings and food for thought...