How to Avoid An “Atheist Ambush” in University

If you’re a Christian, you already know the sad truth. Someone in your family (a son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, niece, or nephew) has already walked away, in spite of all the years you spent raising them in the church. I believe we can change this alarming trajectory, but we have to be willing to address the problem head on. If we are willing to do what it takes to respond to the trials facing the poor, the hungry, and the homeless, why won’t we do what it takes to respond to the challenges facing our own Christian family?

I write about the evidence for Christianity several times a week and post these articles (along with videos and podcasts) on my website (www.ColdCaseChristianity.com). I often get email from readers. One young man named Andrew Deane recently sent this message:

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Your Students Are Willing to Delay Gratification, If You Are

I’ve been writing this month about my experiences at Summit Worldview Academy and the nature of student training. There are a number of similar worldview programs around the country (including the Impact 360 Institute), and I’m always impressed to see how many students are interested in this kind of intensive preparation. To be sure, there are always some students at these conferences who are present because their parents demanded their attendance, but these young people are always in the vast minority. Most students come (and put themselves through the rigorous material) because they heard about it through a friend who highly recommended the experience. And while there are some fun opportunities to hike, relax and play games along the way, these activities (commonly associated with youth group retreats) are typically few and far between at worldview camps. Students are here to roll up their sleeves and get to work. They’re far more interested in learning than lounging. Youth pastors can glean something from worldview academies.
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Rapid Response: “We Don’t Need God to Explain the Origin of Life”

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone said, “Christians believe God created all the life here on earth, but science has a better explanation for the origin of life.” How would you respond to such a statement? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:

“The origin of life is a critical question and an important piece of evidence in our universe. When detectives attempt to answer such a question, we typically try to ask the same kinds of questions one might ask when writing a good essay: the What, Where, When, Why, and How questions. If you ask those same questions about the origin of life, you begin to see the problem with the naturalistic scientific answers from those who attempt to explain the origin of life without invoking God.

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Four Ways to Strengthen Your Kid’s Faith

Those of us who are interested in Christian Case Making (aka “apologetics”) are aware of the challenges facing young Christians in their teens and twenties. It’s a simple fact; most young Christians will walk away from the Church in their college years. Like other Case Makers, I’m animated to work as hard as I can with this age group; young people need Christian Case Making more than any other demographic within the Church. Following a recent presentation at a church, I was approached by a mother who was concerned for her high school aged children. We began discussing several ways parents can prepare their kids before sending them off to college. Here are four simple guiding strategies:

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The Case for Christianity According to a 7th Grader

This is a special guest post by Annie Olson, a 7th grader who wrote this as her final paper in a rhetoric class. It is reprinted here with the permission of Annie and her parents, and it's an excellent example of what young people can accomplish when we elevate our expectations. Don't underestimate the ability of your kids to understand the evidence and make the case, regardless of their age. You never know, they just might write something like this:

We believe in God the Father. We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe in the Holy Spirit and that He’s given us new life. We believe in the crucifixion. We believe that He conquered death. We believe in the resurrection and that He’s coming back again. We believe.  So, why do we believe?  Should we believe?  Is the New Testament even reliable?

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Ex-Christians 101

"Why are young people leaving the faith?"

Since I began writing a book on the topic of reaching young ex-Christians, I’ve faced this question repeatedly. The embarrassing truth is that I can’t answer it. At least not simply.

Ask most Christians the question, though, and the answer is easy: they leave because of moral compromise. A teenage girl goes off to college and starts to party. A young man moves in with his girlfriend. Soon the conflict between their beliefs and behavior becomes unbearable, and they drop their faith commitment. They may cite intellectual skepticism or disappointments with the church, but don’t be fooled. These are just excuses, smokescreens designed to hide their real reason for going astray. “They change their creed to match their conduct,” as my parents would say.

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The Death of Youth Group

Ok, so that was just a provactive title to get you here. I’d like to start off saying I don’t have all the answers. I’m only 23, I don’t have a masters in theology, and I’m not a youth pastor. I have been in youth ministry leadership for a number of years, have had the opportunity to meet and dialogue with some forward thinking and innovative Christian leaders, and have been a “youth group kid” since puberty first reeled its awkward head in my life.

In my conversations with people who are thinking about ways to aid and engage the next generation, the same theme always seems to permeate our dialogue:

We need to move away from creating systems and events and begin seeing people more as individuals. In short, mentorship is a much more effective way to foster and grow young Christians….but it’s also a greater sacrifice.

Think about someone you know who’s just a stellar Christian. They’re passionate, live a life of integrity, and allow that life to spill generously to others. Maybe that’s you. I’ll bet you anything they attribute their lifestyle to someone that once stepped outside their busy schedule and personally invested in them, someone they could tell anything to (even their deepest, darkest junk). I have a friend who told me with a straight face once that she felt so comfortable around her mentor that she could tell her something as horrible as she just murdered someone without feeling judged or condemned.

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How Many Youth are Leaving the Church?

If you discovered about half of the students in your church's youth ministry were going to walk away from Christ after entering college, would you do something about it?  I hope so.  That's not a very good retention rate. 

But whatpercentage of Christian youth are actually leaving the church?  There’sbeen some debate about the actual number, with some saying as little as 4% will remain Christian, while others suggest there’s virtually no exodus.  Christian Smith tells us that evangelicals have been "behaving badly with statistics"and quickly dispenses with the 4% "panic-attack" stats.   But can weget some idea of the percentage of youth leaving the church withoutbeing irresponsible with numbers? 

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