The Challenges Facing Young Christians

Challenges Young Christians

Every other week, from May to August, I have the honor of speaking with students at Summit Worldview Academy. I typically teach on the nature of truth, the reliability of the gospels, and the evidence for God’s existence. The students are eager to learn and have many good questions during the breaks, during our lunch and dinner time together, and at an evening session specifically set aside for questions.  The students usually share a number of stories related to the ways they were already being challenged as young Christians. Many have experienced a season of doubt and are grateful for the training they receive at Summit. Dr. Jeff Myers, the president of Summit Ministries, has assembled an incredible collection of thinkers, teachers and trainers to help prepare students to face challenges and “analyze the various ideas that are currently competing for their hearts and minds.” These young people are eager to prepare themselves for these encounters. Christian students are surrounded by competing worldviews from a very young age. As I speak with the young men and women at Summit, I think about the many ways our kids are challenged from childhood through their college years:

They Are Challenged by the Media

Young Christians are challenged very early, beginning with their first exposure to television, movies and the internet. Much of the media is aligned against Christian values, and Americans spend about one-third of their free time, (more than the next 10 most popular leisure activities combined) watching some form of television. The messages communicated by television programming are often in direct opposition to the teaching of Christianity, and students are deeply impacted by what they absorb from the media. Two out of every three shows on television, for example, include sexual content (a dramatic increase over the past 15 years). 50% of the couples involved in sexual behavior in television programming are depicted in casual relationships (10% of these couples had just met, and 9% of television programs depict sexual behavior between teens). In a set of Kaiser Family Foundation studies, 76% of teens said that one reason young people have sex is because TV shows and movies “make it seem normal”. College students who were exposed to the many examples of sexual behavior on television were more likely to believe their peers engaged in those same activities.

They Are Challenged by Elementary and High School Programming

Make no mistake about it, when Christian values are attacked in the public education system, the basis for those beliefs (Christianity) is also attacked. Here in California, for example, comprehensive sexual health and HIV / AIDS instruction requires schools to teach students how to have “safe sex”. “Abstinence only” education is not permitted in California public schools. In addition, California schools cannot inform parents if their children leave campus to receive certain confidential medical services, including abortions. Classic Christian values related to sexuality (and marriage) are under attack in the public school system.

They Are Challenged by University Professors

Once students get to college, they are likely to encounter professors who are even more aggressive in their opposition to Christianity and Christian values. According to the Institute for Jewish and Community research, a survey of 1,200 college faculty members revealed 1 in 4 professors (25%) is an atheist or agnostic (compared with 4-5% in the general population). In addition, only 6% of university professors say the Bible is “the actual word of God”. Instead, 51% say the Bible is “an ancient book of fables, legends, history & moral precepts”. More than half of professors have “unfavorable” feelings toward Evangelical Christians. Charles Francis Potter (author of Humanism: A New Religion) said it best when he proclaimed, “Education is thus a most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of Humanism.  What can the theistic Sunday-schools, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five day program of humanistic teaching?”

They Are Challenged by University Students

The attitude and influence of hostile professors is often accepted by University students happy to reject the moral precepts of the Christian worldview. Atheist student groups are multiplying dramatically in universities across America. The Secular Student Alliance, for example, grew from 80 student clubs in 2007 to over 250 clubs in 2011. These students groups are eager to identify themselves with names that challenge the intellectual capacity of Christian students. Atheist groups often seek titles such as “Free Thinker Society,” the “Coalition of Reason,” or the “Center for Inquiry”. The implication, of course, is that Christians are ignorant and constrained by their antiquated worldview.

The Church will never begin to address the growing problem of young people leaving the faith if it doesn’t first recognize the challenges facing Christian students. The young Christians at Summit have already begun to feel the impact of the cultural forces aligning against the Christian worldview. That’s why they are so encouraged to discover and experience the robust intellectual tradition of Christian thought as represented by the professors, speakers and trainers over two intensive weeks of worldview training. These young people are forever changed by their experience at Summit. They are equipped to meet the challenges they already face, even as they prepare for an even greater challenge in the university setting. All of us, as youth pastors and ministers, can learn something from programs like Summit. It’s time to address the challenges facing students before they find themselves struggling to resist the cultural tide on their own.

  1. Warner Wallaceis aCold-Case DetectiveChristian Case Maker, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and the author of Cold-Case ChristianityCold-Case Christianity for KidsGod’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith.



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16 replies
    • david brainerd says:

      number 1. the church looks down on the celibate. but iys impossible to get married today without committing fornication first. modern dating is fornication..the only way yo avoid sexual sin IS celibacy…but the churches make celibates outcasts.

  1. Susan says:

    It’s too bad there isn’t someone in California to lead a grassroots movement and overturn the law.

    Since when did people elect people to government so they could force their way into education and corrupt the minds of innocent children.

    But this is what happens when Christians don’t maintain enough separation from the world. Just because we’re in the world doesn’t mean we have to tolerate immoral ideas or ideas that encourage immoral behavior.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if someone got a mail campaign going and a referendum to overturn some of these offensive Supreme Court decisions like the one that doesn’t allow prayer or religious topics in school or other governmentally owned places.

    • Andy Ryan says:

      The whole point of the Supreme Court is that its decisions aren’t up for public vote. The United States of America is a Republic with a Representative Democracy, not a Democracy and definitely not a theocracy. If you don’t like that then you’re living in the wrong country.

      • Susan says:

        I guess being a Brit you don’t undertand the power resides in the people, Andy. That’s why public officials are voted in through the power of the people.

        If the people feel their public officials and court system are abusing their authority or making bad decisions then the people can active and try and change the system.

        I get letters in the mail practically on a daily basis where people are doing just that on abortion, immigration, etc.

        Just because someone sought a position of authority doesn’t mean they are using that authority in the best interest of everyone.

        So we have freedom of speech, religion, assembly, etc. To protest such abuses of power.

        Why knuckle under the yoke of evil or incompetence? Change it.

        • Andy Ryan says:

          It seems I understand the Constitution and the way US law works better than you, Susan. For example, anti-miscegenation laws preventing blacks and whites marrying each other were struck down in the FACE of public opinion supporting such laws. In other words, the majority of people wanted those laws to continue, but they were ruled unconstitutional. Read up on your own history, Susan. Read up on how your Constitution protects ‘the minority from the tyranny of the majority’.

          • Susan says:

            Get yourself a lesson in American politics and read up on referendums and Constitutional Amendments, Andy.

            de·moc·ra·cy (dĭ-mŏk′rə-sē)
            n. pl. de·moc·ra·cies
            1. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.
            2. A political or social unit that has such a government.
            3. The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.
            4. Majority rule.
            5. The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.

            We don’t live under a king in America any more. We threw the king out. Do you think Americans can’t throw out the Supreme Court decisions if it really wants to.

            And the local elections on same sex marriage were rigged. There was a Gay software billionaire who went around buying up local races and politicians and the people should just tolerate their system being bought I suppose according to you.

            But some gays aren’t for same-sex marriage. Some are good old fashioned Christians who put Jesus ahead of their old man.

            As for the miscegenation laws maybe people weren’t as concerned about it as you assume but messing with someone’s children. That is a different matter.

            We may be too late to do anything about it but we can pray for the good Lord to come sooner and set up his new kingdom on earth and I encourage anyone reading this post to do that.

            At the rate the world weather is failing the sooner he gets here to reverse everything the better.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            I have read up on this, Susan, which is why I know you’re wrong. This has nothing to do with monarchies, so your reference to kings is a complete red herring. Defining democracy doesn’t help you either. America is set up precisely to protect minorities from mob rule – majorities don’t get to vote against the interests of a minority if it contravenes the Constitution. You continuing to argue against me is a perfect example of the Dunning Kruger effect.

          • toby says:

            Susan, you have heard of checks and balances, I’m sure. The people are a check on the government and the government is also a check on the people. It’s what Andy is referring to as the tyranny of the majority. For example if at some point in the past muslims began to outnumber christians in this country the constitution would stop the muslim majority from telling you that you had to be muslim to run for office or had to pray to allah prior to any government meeting. Sadly though it’s all too common to find christians that LOOOOOOVE when their city counsel prays to their christian god before a meeting, but gets testy when a muslim or satanist wants to give an invocation. This double standard is likely what keeps Andy and I coming here and posting.

  2. Susan says:

    Andy I am talking about populist changing of the Constitution. Prohibition was an example of a popular movement. William Jennings Bryant used to lead popular movements. They don’t always win but they do make waves.

    The Eighteenth Amendment was the result of decades of effort by the temperance movement in the United States and at the time was generally considered a progressive amendment.[2] Starting in 1906, the Anti-Saloon League (ASL) began leading a campaign to ban the sale of alcohol on a state level. They led speeches, advertisements, and public demonstrations, claiming that banning the sale of alcohol would get rid of poverty and social issues, such as immoral behavior and violence. A well-known reformer during this time period was Carrie Amelia Moore Nation, whose violent actions (such as vandalizing saloon property) made her a household name across America.[3]

    Wiki on the Prohibition Amendment to the Constituion. (Constituents do have influence on their public officials):

    The Eighteenth Amendment was the result of decades of effort by the temperance movement in the United States and at the time was generally considered a progressive amendment.[2] Starting in 1906, the Anti-Saloon League (ASL) began leading a campaign to ban the sale of alcohol on a state level. They led speeches, advertisements, and public demonstrations, claiming that banning the sale of alcohol would get rid of poverty and social issues, such as immoral behavior and violence. A well-known reformer during this time period was Carrie Amelia Moore Nation, whose violent actions (such as vandalizing saloon property) made her a household name across America.

    Many state legislatures had already enacted statewide prohibition prior to the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment but did not ban the consumption of alcohol in most households. By 1916, 23 of 48 states had already passed laws against saloons, some even banning the manufacture of alcohol in the first place.[4]

    I know about the protection of minority rights. Who doesn’t who ever took a basic government course. But we really don’t know if children’s rights are being affected. We probably don’t have a significant sampling size over a long enough time period to know if these cultural changes will be detrimental to children or the rest of society or not. But there is such a thing as gender confusion because sexual identity is more fluid than most people assume.

    There’s an African American magazine editor who turned gay after a few bad personal relationships with men. She even started a pro-gay magazine. Only to realize later on she wasn’t gay. She had just had too many bad experiences and it affected her judgment. Later on she turned back to being a heterosexual after a really long period of LGBT activism.

    Quite a bit of our sexual opinions today are based on misguided research and conclusions by early sexual researchers and once the lies hit the mainstream they are hard to correct.

    But modern biology corrects Alfred Kinsey’s contentions.

    Too bad people never stop and think that the rule not the exception should rule in biology. Too many people who are the exceptions like Kinsey like to meddle with the finding from personal motives.

    But I will stop here. It’s been several years since I researched into the sexual research mistakes of Kinsey and Mead so I am fuzzy on it. Plus you never know online who’s feelings you will hurt. Some people really want to know the truth but not everyone can handle it.

    • Andy Ryan says:

      We were talking about prayer in schools. Now you’re talking about gender fluidity and people turning gay – what’s that got to do with prayer in schools? If you want school-led prayer, you need to accept your kids being forced to pray to Allah or Ganesh, or explain why national schools should favour one religion over another. The founding fathers had every chance to put religion, and indeed Christianity in particular, into the Constitution. They voted on it several times. Every time they voted no.

      • Susan says:

        I am just generally addressing the article concerns. I am not arguing because there is a lot you don’t understand about how American politics are set up. You seem to have an elitist view and think things can’t change but the Constitution was originally designed to accomodate change.

        The Constitution is considered a living document.

        Wiki on the Living Constitution:

        In United States constitutional interpretation, the Living Constitution (or loose constructionism) is the claim that the Constitution has a dynamic meaning or that it has the properties of an animate being in the sense that it changes. The idea is associated with views that contemporaneous society should be taken into account when interpreting key constitutional phrases.[1]

        While the arguments for the Living Constitution vary, they can generally be broken into two categories. First, the pragmatist view contends that interpreting the Constitution in accordance with its original meaning or intent is sometimes unacceptable as a policy matter, and thus that an evolving interpretation is necessary.[citation needed] The second, relating to intent, contends that the constitutional framers specifically wrote the Constitution in broad and flexible terms to create such a dynamic, “living” document.[citation needed] Opponents of the idea often argue that the Constitution should be changed through the amendment process, and that allowing judges to determine an ever-changing meaning of the constitution undermines democracy. The primary alternative to the Living Constitution is most commonly described as originalism.

  3. Andy Ryan says:

    Susan, if loving the Constitution makes me an elitist, then I accept the label. If it’s elitism to applaud a system of governance that would stop the majority taking a vote on oppressing a minority of Jews, then sure, I’m an elitist. But tell me, do you really see it as elitism when judges went against public opinion to rule that laws stopping blacks marrying whites were unconstitutional?
    Your continued references to me being British, or labelling me elitist, or talking about monarchies – these are variously ad hominems, unsupported by anything I’ve said, or non sequiturs. Britiain is a monarchy and teachers led me in prayer every morning when I was at school. My kids have the same. Many other European schools with monarchies are the same.

    • Susan says:

      All I said above, Andy is that court decisions are not completely irreversible.

      We have various processes in the U.S. where a grassroots movement can change or challenge laws.

      If the elite were suppose to rule uncontested by the people then why would everyone have freedom of speech and freedom of the press and freedom of arms?

      The ability to vote demonstrates the power resides in the people.

  4. toby says:

    “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.” —-Thomas Jefferson


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