Last weekend my husband and I had the opportunity to participate in a 2-day training session for prospective Ratio Christi chapter leaders. Ratio Christi is a youth and young adult ministry that trains students in Apologetics—how to defend the Christian faith. They do this all across the country on college campuses and in church youth groups. The mission behind RC is to equip young adults to be able to withstand attacks they will surely be faced with on university campuses not just by fellow students, but from the professors themselves, and do it in a winsome fashion. If you saw the movie God’s Not Dead I, this is a pretty realistic example of the type of situation students can find themselves in. We are planning to serve in this ministry so we attended the training session.
When I was a very young adult, I was one of these students who exited the church. My family attended a local Catholic Church, and at the age of 19 I stopped going. I stopped, not because I had lost my belief in God or the truth that Jesus is my savior, but because I wasn’t getting answers to questions and the services didn’t seem relevant to me. I would have told you then that I was wasting my time. I only returned to church after meeting the man who would become my husband at the age of 22. He invited me to go to a Calvary Chapel with him. That’s when I started to grow spiritually.
There are many students today who are just like I was. They have big questions that don’t seem to get answered to their intellectual satisfaction. Some are told that good Christians don’t ask those kinds of questions or that they just have to have faith. These answers or lack of, are driving our youth away at a rate that is staggering. So I would like to share some of the things I learned last weekend.
Here are some sad statistics:
- 55-90% of teenagers will leave the church by their second year of college.
- 2% of U.S. adults are “former Christians.”
- There are 4 former Christians for every convert.
- 33% of adults under 30 claim no religious affiliation.
- 39% pray daily.
- 28% attend services weekly.
- 80% believe in God (Ten years ago, this was in the 90th percentile).
- 50% believe in God with absolute certainty.
- 68% believe in Heaven.
- 52% believe scripture is the Word of God.
- 56% believe in Hell.
The most disturbing number is less than ½ of 1% of young adults possess a biblical worldview.
There are three troubling patterns:
- Most Americans claim to be a Christian, yet less than 1 out of 10 possess a biblical worldview as I mentioned above.
- Parents are not focused on guiding their children to have a biblical worldview. The problem with this is that you can’t give what you don’t have, and most parents don’t have such a perspective on life.
- The job that Christian churches, schools and other ministries are doing in Christian education appears to be inadequate.
These factors create five obstacles facing teenagers:
- Lack of Wisdom
- Orthodoxy is unknown. They have no idea what the orthodox Bible looks like.
- Sexual temptation
- Preparation for adulthood
- Isolation—they have no real relationships. Kids are suffering from depression because all their relationships are electronic and they don’t know how to ask for help. They invest in endless personal promotion, therefore expecting more from technology and less from each other. They do this so they can put their attention where they want it, be heard, and never be alone.
This attack is being authored by none other than Satan. Just as the serpent in Gen. 3 asked Eve, “Did God really say?….” and put doubt in her mind, and at the same time tried to make God look oppressive, as though He was keeping something from her, that is what’s happening to our youth. Paul tells us in 2nd Cor. 10 that Satan uses arguments that seek to enslave us with lies. He’s been doing this from the beginning. That lie is that God is not good and he’s oppressive. But we don’t need to fear Satan. What we need to do is to understand the weapon he uses—arguments. The way we counter these arguments is by using arguments of our own to destroy Satan’s false arguments. This is what Apologetics is all about and what Ratio Christi teaches students. What can we do about this predicament with our youth?
Older generations need to display holiness and provide a safe environment to ask questions. Our youth need to see the Word of God lived out in our lives. Youth are inundated with ads, making them skeptical about what we’re selling too. So we need to model Christ. Parent modeling is crucial. The church wants to come alongside the parent in training children, but the church won’t have the same impact that the parents will. If mom is faithful to attend church, but dad isn’t, then only 3% of children will be church attenders. But if the dad attends, 66-75% of children will be church attenders. If we don’t model this, our children will not follow. Parents, you need to be diligent and intentional, and dad’s you need to be the spiritual leader in the home.
There was a Swiss study done in 1994 that showed that kids see dads as the model on how to engage the world, and they see mom as the model on how to nurture, empathize and love others. For students to be Discipled, they need a high level of commitment from parents and youth leaders. Every kid understands that whatever is the most important thing in your life is that which you make time for. They need to have a close relationship with their mentor. There should be a teach-and -mimic dynamic going on. You teach, and they mimic. Being an ambassador for Christ is a job for which you never take time off. If you model it, they will see it in you.
So parents and youth leaders, ask yourself, “If my child or student follows me, will they look more like Jesus when they graduate? Will they have a burden for the lost? Will they have empathy for those who need Christ?” Christianity has to be lived out. If you want your children to be Disciples of Christ, then you need to be one yourself, being completely and totally consumed. If you’re not, they won’t be either.
Last, if your child is heading off to a non-Christian college in the fall, find out if they have a Ratio Christi chapter there that your child could attend. See if there’s a local youth group that teaches apologetics either at home or near the college. Take your kids to Christian youth conferences like Summit Ministries or Re-Think. Don’t let your kids head to college unarmed.
Youth ministry information:
You can find Ratio Christ at ratiochristi.org
Summit ministries can be found at summit.org
Re-think Apologetics can be found at rethinkapologetics.com
All stats courtesy of Ratio Christi.