Surveys show high school students raised in the church are turning their back on Christianity once they enter college. The percentages range from 60 – 75%. Even at the low end, this is way too high! Many churches have youth pastors, who have the tough job of helping high school students grow in their faith. If you love apologetics there are ways you can be supportive of these individuals.
Brett Kunkle of Stand to Reason posted a short blog on how we can come alongside the youth pastor and help them identify where their students are at.
Number one, we can have youth leaders test their students. It can be a written test or a role-play. Figure out ways to test students so that parents and youth leaders can see just how little their students really know. Work with your youth pastor and come up with a basic theology test. I might say to my youth pastor, “What are the essential things you think our kids need to know?” Do they need to know something about the trinity? Do they need to know some basics about the cross? Create some questions, and then have a written test that students take. Collect the tests, and then look at them.
The typical Christian kid is going to fail that test miserably. Hopefully that will help our youth leaders and parents to wake up to see that our kids don’t know more than “love Jesus and be good.” They have almost no theological depth.
You can also do it apologetically. You can role-play with the students, and let the youth pastor see that the students can’t answer some of the most basic questions and challenges.
Another thing I would suggest is to get a book in your youth leader’s hands. Have parents read a book called Soul Searching by Christian Smith. It gives a snapshot of where our young people are, and it’s not good news. What they found is that our young people are completely inarticulate about what they believe and why they believe it. Hopefully, when our leaders and parents see that, it will wake them up to see the importance of seriously training our young people.
Hopefully, this post is a place to start. This issue is much bigger than just what goes on in high school ministries. What is the ministry philosophy of the entire church? How are parents equipped to understand what they believe and why they believe it? If we as parents are called to pass on the faith, are we up to the task?
With the efforts of the entire church, maybe this percentage of students leaving will lower. It is up to us to be effective agents of change. We need to be like Jude when he writes, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”Jude 1:3 (NIV) By using our gifts and encouraging key players in this task, we can contend for the faith by equipping our youth to understand what and why they believe what they believe.