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Ministering to “Scientifically-Minded” Students

{Note: Remember this Saturday is “The Case for Christianity” webcast. Click on the link for details.}

My friend, John Weber, is an engineer who’s been involved in a number of innovative transportation projects in his long career. Yet now he is changing careers to something radically different that began as an earnest hobby about 12 years ago. He is starting his own campus ministry with the specific goal of ministering to ‘scientifically-minded’ students.

According to national numbers, approximately 17.6% of college students are ‘scientifically-minded’ which I take to mean anyone with a science, technology, engineering or math major (aka STEM in the higher ed parlance), thus he concludes there are approximately 8800 STEM’s at UT, which I think is grossly underestimating the numbers, given that it includes both undergraduates and graduates. The College of Natural Sciences at UT has 9000 undergrads and 1800 grads, and the College of Engineering has 5400 undergrads (data from the college websites), and there are other schools at UT that might fit in this category, so UT conservatively has a full third of its student body in the STEM fields.

There are at current count, 58 campus ministries at UT. Of those, only 2, including John’s, reach out explicitly to STEMs. Why do they need special consideration? In general, they approach all things in life, including spirituality, in a more analytical, skeptical fashion. We are simply trained that way. Many tend not to be as socially active as others, so are less likely to pursue being involved in more socially oriented ministries. Also, they tend to ask different sets of questions, which can be challenging for campus ministers to answer.

Given that studies have shown that 75% of evangelically raised Christian youth lose their faith after four years in a secular university environment, largely due to the scientific and philosophical objections raised unilaterally and evangelically by our secular peers, this is yet another call for a ministry to address those objections calmly, rationally, with grace and expertise.

This is where John comes in and offers himself as a resource to students, Christian faculty and even other ministries. He is the president of the newly formed Reasons to Believe-Austin chapter, and it is through this venue he will be rolling out his vision for not just UT, but all of the college campuses in the Central Texas I-35 corridor—over 100,000 students. RTB-Austin is an official chapter of the ministry Reasons To Believe, and with their blessing, John is also partnering with another national ministry, Ratio Christi (“The Rationality of Christ”) to bring both a scientific and philosophical apologetic to the Austin collegiate community.

Like any new start up, capital is the most dear worldly resource, and prayer the most dear. John is starting this from his own very limited resources and trying to raise a team of supporters. Wherever you are in the world (and TSR has readers in at least 50 countries!), if you are interested in hearing more about John’s vision, plans and needs, please contact him at

I would be honored if most of his needed start-up and even long-term support came from y’all.


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