If you’ve been in youth ministry as long as I have, the reality that teenagers walk away from church when they graduate high school penetrates the deepest recesses of your heart. Dr. Frank Turek says, “They’re talked out of it because they’ve never been talked into it.” In other words, we can’t confuse worship service attendance with understanding and belief. So how do we get them from attendance to understanding? From service to serving? From knowing the truth to declaring the truth?
A couple of years ago I did a four-week apologetics series for our teen ministry. At the end of that time, one young man came to our Youth Pastor and said he was considering giving up on Christianity until he found out there was proof for it. Apologetics is the branch of theology concerned with the accurate defense of the faith through a scientific, historical, archaeological and philosophical examination of the evidence.
As an apologist, I am blessed with opportunities to engage with people of other worldviews. Our youth are blessed with those opportunities as well. However, are they equipped to handle them well? When they have a teacher or professor who says something contrary to what they learned in Sunday School, whose opinion will win – the Youth Pastor or the professor?
The age of pluralism in which we find ourselves portrays worldviews as a personal preference. In fact, it’s more like a buffet where it’s acceptable to take a little bit of everything and see how well they blend together. Our kids need to know that the truth about truth is that it is singular. Objective truth always excludes its alternatives. Hence, if Christianity is true, then only Christianity is true.
The cosmological evidence (i.e. the Second Law of Thermodynamics and Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity) seems to point to God as being the creator of the universe. However, you guessed it, this isn’t the way these theories are typically taught in their science classes. All of the factors that make life possible for humans on earth (also known as the Anthropic Principle), the precise level of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the environment for example, are evidence of intentionality and design by a Creator. Our kids do not need to struggle with the myth that they have to choose between science and their faith. The question is, have we effectively communicated that to them?
When our young people are challenged, have we trained them to give a defense for the faith? Have we provided them the tools and information to help them in that defense? We need to assist and prepare our students to defend the truth with clarity, confidence and compassion.