The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Amazing Grads – to the Slaughter?

Over the last three weeks 290,000 young adults will have gladly set aside the demands of contemporary fashion, for one day anyway, and willingly dressed up in robes not substantially changed since medieval times.

Not so much a rite of passage – more like a big birthday – graduation nevertheless marks one of the most abrupt and significant transitions of modern life.

Around 225,000 of those graduates will enter the job market now. Between 6,750 and 11,250 (3-5%) of them will be Christians: young people who have come through the individualistic, morally and intellectually relativist, pluralist, hard-working, and, statistically, increasingly mentally depressive waters of contemporary academe, with their love of Jesus still burning. Praise God for every one of them. And all those who helped sustain them.

Now the question is this: are they ready for full-time work, for the next phase of fruitful service in God’s mission?

  • Do they have a biblical understanding of why work matters to God? Or why
    their particular work – dream job or stop-gap – matters to God?
  • Do they have a compelling vision for their new role in God’s mission?
  • Are they ready for the shift to the modernist, multi-generational, relationally thinner, high-accountability culture of most workplaces?
  • Has their home/student church offered teaching, prayer, commissioning, mentoring for this next stage?

What’s your experience? What’s your hunch? My hunch is that if we want to change Britain’s culture, we’ll need to change ours. Marriage prep is increasingly embedded in church culture, but ‘work prep’?

Of course, some students emerge work-ready, like Daniel from Imperial College Babylon, not only excelling academically but seeing their studies and their future work through the lens of a vibrant trust in the living God and his deeper wisdom (Daniel 1). And no doubt many of these young Christians successfully embraced the good in ‘uni’ culture without compromising the call to holiness and justice and humility (Daniel 1 and 3) – experience that will serve them well in the workplace.

Still, by the time these Christian graduates reach the age of 30 the percentage engaged in church life will, on current trends, have shrunk to 1.7% – around 3,800.

So, I wonder, what might we do for just one graduate that we know? A card, a commitment to pray monthly, a book, a link, the offer – if they’re going into a field we know about – to chat over a coffee? Or maybe just ask them – they’re graduates after all.


Mark Greene


  1. I make a point of saying hallo to the uni grads who return to our church family services, only about 3 or 4/

    I get the impression they feel they don’t know how to communicate with someone with grey hair. (Simple: we’re all human beings – and Christians!) As with a lot of relationships, just reaching out regularly, showing I care, will be of value. I could consult our Youth Leaders on a a website reference, etc. that might be useful to them. They’re part of our church family & always will be. Part of our Saviour Jesus’ family.

    By Anne Susan Olive  -  20 Jul 2018
  2. I got excited about the article… until the last paragraphs. You identified a real and pressing issue, but the suggested approaches seemed somewhat unimaginative. How about a church that seeks to address contemporary working issues in the way it meets and the themes around which it bases its teaching.

    By Pete Moore  -  20 Jul 2018
  3. Love the link with Daniel and the practical application of this message. Thank you

    By Abigail  -  20 Jul 2018
  4. Very useful thank you.A challenging reminder.Our bright eyed a d. Yay tailed young graduates have a long journey ahead of them.

    By Dala Bramwell  -  20 Jul 2018
  5. Words of wisdom. Beautifully written. Thank you.

    By Colin Humphreys  -  20 Jul 2018
  6. Well said

    By David Wilson  -  20 Jul 2018
  7. Thanks Mark, this is great stuff.

    May I offer a few suggestions for those who know a new graduate?

    Please, do not tell the new graduate how to do his/ her job or tell him/ her what to do next. (Remember, few things have the capacity to destroy our credibility faster than giving unsolicited advice to someone who probably knows more about the situation than we do.)

    Always speak to the new graduate as an adult and as an equal. (Please note, marriage is still an important rite of passage in the church but in this situation it is not relevant. The person is an adult – married or not.)

    Maybe pray with the person if that seems right. Always pray for the person.

    Listen to what the new graduate is saying. I am not a fan of Paul Tillich but when he said ‘The first duty of love is to listen’ I think he was right. (Personally, I would say ‘Listen with respect.’)

    I am sure there are things that could be said, but I will leave it here for now.

    Thanks again.

    By John Steley  -  20 Jul 2018
  8. Love your insightful reflections Mark, it’s so true: for a better future for all, we (so called adults) must take responsibility for the young ones who will take our place.
    What a lovely idea to support our graduates!
    Thank you

    By Luisa Orlandi  -  20 Jul 2018
  9. I love the call, at the end, forceach of us to ask them…

    The opportunity for asking, not telling, (true Coaching in effect), seems the real opportunity here, which is why I value you leaving action point with each of us, not with some bland corporate effort that tries to “Do” something to graduates.

    Jesus did and does a lot of asking, (the person by the well, the onlookers re the person caught in adulatery) and then he listened and listens to people’s thoughts as we process and decide what we should do.

    I commit now to keep coaching and praying for two recent starters I know in the world of work…

    Thanks Mark

    By John Myers  -  20 Jul 2018
  10. Thanks for this Mark. This is a reminder to me to pray for my Godchildren, two of whom have just finished at university and entering the field of work, another two will soon be going to university, and then finally there is my niece (also a Goddaughter) who will be 13 in September and who appears to have mental health issues.

    By Andrew Harland  -  20 Jul 2018
  11. Thank you for the challenging article. I would only add to the suggestions already made that I believe an ongoing, regular mentoring/discipling relationship in community is key to the younger generation continuing with the Lord in His church. Church programs, while they may be necessary, will not suffice with a generation where authentic relationship is everything… You may do without the programs, but you can’t do without the relationship.

    By John Spadafora  -  20 Jul 2018
  12. I shall be living in Malmesbury from September. There will soon be a Dyson Institute and later University there. I am reading a few short introductions to engineering topics. Previously I knew nothing about it. Soon I might just be able to understand something of what they all do!

    By Douglas Holt  -  21 Jul 2018
  13. Thank you for this important message cast in a reflective mode Mark – invaluable. In response to your last paragraphs question, “So, I wonder, what might we do for just one graduate that we know?”, may I offer:
    2. Like many of you, I am a qualified mentor, coach and teacher who the Lord has called to, “Make Disciples” – of course there are transferable skills overlapping these skills, BUT, they are not the same. Contemporary discipleship making is one of the GREAT needs of the hour. In the light of the Book of God, the Bible and its illustrations = the book of life. In respect of the latter and working through to a good understanding of our culture this recent book is a MUST STUDY,, TYL, amen.
    Eternal Love and Regards, Bill Saunders

    By Bill Saunders  -  22 Jul 2018
  14. This was sent to me by a friend. Great sentiments, and call for prayer. I’ve just attended all graduations at the university where I am chaplain. Also so encouraged to see the next generation of movers and shakers. And we need them too – to inspire us. Particularly when, as one guest commented: “With Trump and Brexit” (in our students eyes problems we have created for their world) “we need strong new leaders”.

    By Nigel Rawlinson  -  29 Jul 2018
  15. We have to be careful not to ‘segment’ age groups too much when it comes to whole life discipleship otherwise that either causes gaps or division between generations – we all need whole life discipleship, with different aspects highlighted for each stage of life, but shown how they like with other stages. We must also not forget that that whole life discipleship also includes advocacy, small group community, and dealing with issues outside our comfort zone in the UK and the rest of the world, especially in countries most of us have never heard of!

    By Greg Fletcher  -  29 Jul 2018

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