« PreviousContinue »
27. How many of these have come back after their college life to take up Useful service in your church?
Here again the figures reported are necessarily approximate, and can be used only to demonstrate in a general manner the movement of college graduates away from their local church. Only 22 churches report that most or all of their students have returned to them. One hundred and fourteen report that none have returned, and 166 report very few. “There is nothing for them to return to" is a common reply from country churches. One hundred and forty-nine churches report 562 students as returning, an average of less than four per church. In the preceding paragraph it appears that the average number entering college in the past ten years was 15, and while the two averages are not derived from the same totals, there is sufficient basis of comparison to indicate a very substantial loss to the local church.
28. How many college graduates, exclusive of these, have come into your church in the last ten years and have taken up useful service?
The loss which the local church suffers by the failure of the student to return to his home after leaving college, is, in reality, an inter-change in a considerable number of cases, as is shown by the fact that 160 churches report the addition of 1,377 college graduates, exclusive of those referred to in Question 27, or an average of over 8. One hundred and twenty-two, however, report no additions among college graduates and 49 report “very few.”
Making all due allowance for the fact that the foregoing figures are necessarily approximate, it seems clear that upon the whole, there is a loss of college men and women to the churches from which they went,
a loss which is by no means compensated by the addition of collegetrained church members who come from other parishes.
29. How in your judgment has the college affected the religious life of both these groups?
In the opinion of some respondents, the reason for the above referred to loss is the undermining of the young church members' faith during the college course. This is the judgment of 92 pastors. Among the typical answers are the following: “College life has sapped them of nearly all their spiritual interests”; “Apparently college life has put religious interests in the background”; “It (college) has had a negative and depressing effect”; As a rule it is the end of their religious life”; “A noticeable tendency to scepticism”; “The ardor of their Christian zeal has been cooled”; “Stimulated the social at the expense of the spiritual.”
In a considerable number of responses the influence of the State University and non-religious college is characterized as "decidedly harmful to religion”; “Spend time, money and prayer on the Congregational students in the state schools”; is the comment of a Nebraska pastor.
On the other hand, 203 pastors are of the opinion that the effect of the college upon the religious life of the student is helpful. College seems to help and to confirm the best influences of the church." "It makes for a more practical conception of the Christian life.” “It has made them more sane in their religious thinking.” “Gives them a
greater sense of responsibility to the community, and usually a desire to be useful.”
Several pastors give the opinion that college life has quickened the religious life of the women, but has usually had the opposite effect upon
As against this another reports: “College men are the backbone of the church."
THE CHURCH AND RECRUITS FOR RELIGIOUS WORK 30. How many young men have gone from your church into the ministry during the last ten years?
Out of a total of 586 replies, 170 candidates for the ministry in the past ten years are reported. These came from 97 churches. Three hundred and thirty-four answer “none” and 130 leave the question unanswered. The assumption is fair that failure to answer the question is equivalent to “none," so that in effect 464 churches have contributed no candidate to the ministry in the past decade. The number of men reported in theological colleges is 15.
31. How many others, young men or young women, have taken up Christian work as a vocation during the last ten years? What forms of Christian work did they take up?
When we turn to forms of Christian work as a vocation other than the ministry we find that out of 586 replies, 352 young people have been supplied by 123 churches. Those replying "none” total 252, and 166 fail to answer the question. Twenty report "several” and 8 report 1 each in preparation. The forms of work chosen cover a variety of interests, among which the Christian Associations, Social Settlements and Missionary Societies stand highest. The specific. vocations reported are graded as follows. Y. M. C. A. 71; Social Service — 50; Missionary unclassified) — 45; Foreign Missionary - 38; Y. W. C. A. — 28 Pastors' Helpers — 17; Teaching in Religious Schools — 28; Home Missionary — 6; Minister's wife — 6; City Missionary - 5; Evangelist 5; Boys' Work -- 4; Associated Charities — 3; Deaconesses 3; Nursing — 3; Sunday School Workers - 3; Bible Society - 1; Church Federation - 1.
32. What efforts are being made in your church to induce young people to enter the ministry or other vocations directly Christian in character?
The answers to this question confine themselves almost entirely to that portion which refers to the ministry. “No efforts” is the reply of 99 pastors; "nothing specific" 164, and 143 leave the question unanswered. A smaller group is evidently concerned with the necessity of presenting the claims of the ministry, 52 reporting general reference to the question in the sermon, while 20 make it the subject of special
Personal work is reported by 94. Special talks on vocation are reported by 17, and special organizations of young men contemplating Christian service by 6. A pastor in a university town reports union conferences on the ministry and other religious vocations, participated in by the University Christian Associations and the pastors of the local churches.
A study of the answers given above reveals the fact that in the past ten years 576 churches have contributed 522 young people to religious work as a vocation, or 52 per year. Of the 52, 17 per year entered the ministry and 35 other forms of religious work. The actual contribution to the ranks of the ministry, however, was made by 94 churches, and to other religious work by 123 churches, the remainder contributing none.
In summarizing the replies to Question 32, one is struck by the number of respondents who sound a note of pessimism, and sometimes even of bitterness, concerning the advisability of presenting the claims of the ministry to young men. “NONE into the ministry!” replies one. Another writes “I would not be guilty of urging a young man to enter the ministry, because of the Church's sinful lack of appreciation of such real sacrifice, and its unwillingness to make like sacrifice to sustain him.” This man adds that he himself is happily situated. Another writes, “If any young man feels that he must go into the ministry, I would not keep him out, but I would persuade none to go in.” The “dead line" is the cause of considerable discouragement, as is indicated by the following typical replies: “So long as our churches are making youth the chief qualification for a pastorate, I must regard it as almost a crime to urge young men to enter the ministry.” “I would not advise any young man to enter the ministry so long as the churches are determined to make a calf-pasture of their pulpits, and a minister is relegated to the bone-yard at fifty, when in all other vocations men are doing their best work. So long as the churches remain as unchristian as they are, young men will not rush into the ministry.”
BOOKS ON RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
33. What books on the subject of religious education have you found most valuable in the last five or ten years?
This question was added because the Commission felt that it might be of interest to construct a list on the basis of such a wide range of opinion. About half the respondents refused to commit themselves, however, some evidently fearing that there was a catch in it somewhere. The remainder furnish an interesting and representative list, often naming authors rather than titles. Those mentioned by more than 10 respondents are: G. A. CoE: Education in Religion and Morals; The Spiritual Life. MARGARET SLATTERY: Talks with the Training Class; The Girl and Her
Religion, etc. L. A. WEIGLE: The Pupil and the Teacher. W. B. FORBUSH: The Boy Problem. E. P. St. John: Child Nature and Child Nurture; Stories and Story
telling. H. C. King: Rational Living; Letters on the Greatness and Simplicity of
the Christian Faith, etc. C. E. McKINLEY: Educational Evangelism. W. S. ATHEARN; The Church School.
H. F. COPE: The Modern Sunday School in Principle and Practice, etc.
Necessarily, this brief digest can convey but a meager impression of the wealth of material which this body of reports has placed in the hands of the Commission, especially in view of the impossibility of summarizing at all its most valuable part that pertaining to lesson courses. The Commission has been helped by it to gain a truer sense of its problems and how to go at them.
A number of inquiries have come from state Sunday School officials and others interested in the work of Congregational churches in particular fields, asking for access to certain parts of this material or for information which could not in all cases be given because the facts had not as yet been fully collated. Such inquiries can now be more adequately dealt with.
An International Conscience — CHARLES F. AKED .
OZORA S. Davis .
Aked, Rev. Charles F.
American Bible Society .
Beardsley, Henry M..
Calkins, Rev. Raymond