Generic Christian U.

Ties that bind church schools are loosening. January issue.

Faith-based universities with historically strong denominational ties—Nazarene, Mennonite, and Southern Baptist schools among them—are enrolling fewer students from within their own ranks.

Paul Corts, president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), said the trend, seen even in institutions with “very strong, close connections” to denominations, is bound to shape future denominational leadership.

For example, at 18 schools associated with the Churches of Christ (non-instrumental), members of associated churches composed 70 percent of first-year students a decade ago. By fall 2009, that figure had dropped to 53 percent, according to a study by the Harding University Center for Church Growth.

The perceived high cost of a Christian education alongside drops in denominational loyalty have contributed to the changing demographics, said Corts and others.

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