When Youth Aren’t Prepared

Are the youth at your church ready? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

If you’re a youth pastor, I strongly urge you to listen to this post. If you are a parent of youth, I urge you to listen. We often say the children are the future of our country. That is correct. They are also the future of Christianity in our country and we need to be reaching them.

We are not.

Statistics are showing that a majority of youth are leaving the faith when they come to college. Some of you are saying “That will never be my child!” The reality is, every child has parents and a lot of parents are saying the exact same thing. God won’t give you special favor just because you’re you if you’re not living in obedience to what He said in raising youth. God won’t shine special favor on a church just because they have a good worship band and “teach faithfully the Word of God” if they’re not honoring their intellectual responsibility to their youth.

You are not to use God as an excuse to cover up your laziness. You are not to use holiness as a cover-up for sinfulness in other areas.

As it stands, when our youth go off to college, often they enter atheism central and as a result, they will be challenged. Sunday School will go up against 25+ years of atheism. What are the possible results? I can think of three.

#1-Apostasy.

This is the most common one. Students in church will have emotions and experiences. They will face “facts.” How do you argue against those? This is especially true if their faith has been married to extra beliefs besides the resurrection of Jesus. Is your faith destroyed if evolution is a fact? Is it if the world is more than 10,000 years old? Is it if there is one error in the Bible? Is it if you find out we don’t have the original text of Scripture? Is it if you find the KJV is not perfect?

I’ve seen such claims before. I’ve seen people scared at the thought of an old Earth. I’ve seen them in a panic over evolution. I’ve had ministry students call me when they find out there are problems with the KJV and want to know what to do. I’ve seen panic over supposed contradictions. Every time the question comes back to “Did Jesus rise?” If He did, everything else is secondary.

Unfortunately, too many won’t reach out for answers. They will apostasize and assume they had a strong understanding of the faith they left. They didn’t. Still, they will think that and that makes them all the more difficult to reach again. Not only that, they are going out and reproducing their own ignorance in others. This is a dangerous option most will take.

#2-Shutdown.

Some Christians will refuse to abandon their faith. Good for them. Unfortunately, they will do nothing to seek to deal with the problem. They will only retreat further in themselves. They will say that someone can have their facts, but they will have their faith.

These students will retreat within themselves and retreat to people of like mind. They will gather together in their own isolation chambers so they can be safe from the culture. (Some of these chambers are called “Churches.”) They will not interact with the culture and when threats comes, they will not answer the questions but chase them away not wanting to consider they could be wrong.

These people are in the Kingdom, but they are also unfortunately great hindrances to the Kingdom and creating more fundy atheists by their approach.

#3-Study

This is by far the minority. Some people will actually determine that they want to know the truth and will study. Many of them will find the answers and they will become strong defenders of the faith and lead a rich and vibrant Christian life. The problem is that they had this in them all along but the church prior had never shown them a better way. Likely, they could have grown up in an isolation chamber.

Just imagine the good that could have been done had these people been taught this all their lives. They were not. It took a crisis to get them to that point, but at least they got to that point. The sad reality is few will be the ones who study and if they want to, many churches will in fact discourage them from doing so or look down on them. After all, those are the “unspiritual” people who need evidence and don’t have “faith.”

The reality is, the church needs #3 the most. It is like Paul said. The ones who are shamed are the ones God uses. The world will look down on those who take seriously the life of the mind now, but they are the ones who are also honoring what God said to do, to love Him with all their mind.

A caveat. Of course not everyone is an intellectual, but there is a difference between not being an intellectual and being an anti-intellectual. No Christian should be the latter. All Christians should at least know those they can go to who can help in a time of need. They should want to respect and encourage such people.

For our youth, we need to be preparing them. We don’t want them to be tragedies.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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16 Responses to “When Youth Aren’t Prepared”

  1. Pastor James Miller Says:

    Good thoughts. I did youth ministry for 10 years and it’s an invaluable calling.

  2. apologianick Says:

    It is incredibly refreshing to see a pastor agree with this.

  3. Daniel Eaton Says:

    I’d take your idea one step further than you do. Not only do I think the youth are not equipped for the challenges they face when they leave the Sunday School culture, I think they are MIS-equipped. They are told catchy little responses like “were you there” and arguments that totally fail any level of objective scrutiny. This causes not only a crisis when they realize that their conclusions may be wrong, but also a crisis when they realize that the folks that were the alleged experts had misled them about the evidence as well. It is, in its truest sense, educational malpractice. It’s no wonder so many give up the faith.

    There is something else going on though. Your post suggests that this crisis happens when they go to “atheist” colleges and such. I think it happens *anyway* with most folks. As we become adults, and especially as we become parents ourselves, we start evaluating how we were raised and what we were taught and start deciding what was good and what we should do different with our own kids. This results in some level of introspection into what we believe and why. It’s a natural progression of our desire to show our own independence from our parents. So even if they go to a college that teaches the same things they learned in Sunday School (or no college at all), they still end up turning what usually manifests itself as teenage rebellion into young-adult independence and challenging, questioning, or examining the things they were taught as kids.

  4. John Davis Says:

    Great post.

  5. Ellen Says:

    Teach them how to read the Bible. Many churches are sound and do faithfully teach the Word but do God’s people actually personally read the Bible? Do they know how to? When my religion class told us that Mary wasn’t a virgin – I was confused. This motivated me to begin studying the Bible for myself and I then gained confidence to pinpoint error.
    Recommend this book for those unfamiliar with how it’s done- Learn to Study the Bible by Andy Deane. 40 methods- some are simple and others are in depth. Shows an example for every method. Mostly inductive ( observe, interpret, apply).

  6. apologianick Says:

    Great comments. Thanks John for your compliment. Daniel, I agree entirely with what you say. It’s not that we’re not just avoiding teaching, but we’re teaching terrible things that need to be untaught. Ellen. Yes. We need to know how to read the Bible, but it doesn’t just stop there. We need to know why the Bible is what we think it to be. At this point, your book will have to be your recommendation. I have not read that yet so I cannot say.

  7. The Best of the Interweb (03/23/13) | DaveCruver.com Says:

    […] Speaking of apologetics in the church, Deeper Waters on When Youth Aren’t Prepared. […]

  8. 1mag0de1 Says:

    I certainly felt alone in my quest to find answers growing up. All my Christian friends thought I was being contentious with non-believers by discussing the issues with them. Either that, or they were fundamentalists who thought I wasn’t following the Bible because I accepted evolution. The latter also often gave horrid answers to atheists questions (and they still do). I was embarrassed that Christian fundamentalists would come up with such pitiful defenses of the Christian faith. In fact, one of the most common arguments used in my church was that if God didn’t exist, there would be nothing for atheists to disbelieve in. Using that kind of logic its no wonder that a curious youth are being discouraged in their faith.

  9. apologianick Says:

    That’s not even an argument….

  10. Alex Humphrey Says:

    As someone who has been teaching youth for almost 2 years, I am very aware of this issue and have been working hard to stress first and foremost Jesus Christ, his life, death, and resurrection. Recently, I’m also working to teach obedience to God. Walking through evidence that God is good, that He is not scared by “facts” and that while we may not understand everything, the way we love is through obedience.

    We also talk a lot about apologetics issues. Not things like young earth vs old earth, but like logical inconsistencies both Christians and non-Christians have a tendency to fall into and other, deeper ways to think about God and understand him.

    My hope is to see the youth leave with a foundation of the Gospel and on the nature of God and our calling as Christians and to also see them as a group who can search the Bible and find answers.

    Long story short (too late), I really like this article and it really reinforces a lot of what I have been working towards these last 2 years.

  11. apologianick Says:

    Alex. If every youth pastor out there was like you, our country would be very different, and I mean that in a good way. Keep up the good work. God bless you.

  12. 1mag0de1 Says:

    lol I know its not really an argument, but many Christians I’ve known over the years think its a darn good argument, for some strange reason.

  13. Bethany Says:

    I thought this was really well put. Thank you for taking the time to express this important point. Blessings, Bethany R. (CAA)

  14. When Youth Aren’t Prepared | RCA Blogs Says:

    […] Originally posted on Nick Peter’s blog, Deeper Waters. […]

  15. Really Recommended Posts 4/12/13 | J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason" Says:

    […] When Youth Aren’t Prepared- What happens when we do not prepare Christian youths for the challenges they will face? Deeper Waters, an incredibly thoughtful blog, discusses the implications. […]

  16. Max Smart Says:

    I am never prepared!

    http://www.HolyBibleSearch.net & BibleGateway.com are good online Bible search/study tools.

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