Understanding the Unique Worldview of Students Today

As a high school student, my father sent me to a two-week worldview experience in the mountains of Colorado Springs called Summit Ministries. I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. Looking back now, over two decades later, I realize that it was one of the most formative faith experiences of my life.

Although there were probably a couple dozen speakers at Summit (who addressed all sorts of worldview issues related to theology, economics, apologetics, science, and more), my favorite was Dr. Jeff Myers. He has sense become a good friend of mine, and he is now the president of Summit Ministries, a vital worldview experience for students. Dr. Myers is a popular speaker, the author of many books (including one of my favorites, Handoff), and is one of the most important contemporary voices in the church.

Dr. Myers was kind enough to answer some of my questions. I hope you enjoy the interview, but most importantly, if you are ages 16-22, please consider attending Summit this upcoming summer. It is a “game-changer” for many students, and I believe it could be for you too.

SEAN MCDOWELL: Jeff, what would you say are some unique worldview distinctives of young adults and teens today?

JEFF MYERS: Recently I asked my three teenage children to add some songs to my playlist for when I go running. They included all kinds of things—the good, the bad, and the ugly. When I was growing up, most songs were “coded” messages about having sex. There are still a lot of songs about sex, but there are even more about living with stress, wanting to feel empowered, and feeling regret. This is a searching generation—wondering whether anyone really loves them and whether anyone would even miss them if they disappeared.

MCDOWELL: What is the most common misunderstanding people often have about this younger generation?

JEFF MYERS: The most common misunderstanding is that young adults don’t care about anything besides themselves. I think they do care. Look at the difference of how today’s young adults engage the culture. It’s different from when I was growing up. In my day, popular culture was an escape from reality. A lot of it now is about finding expression—finding songs and movies that help them explain their thoughts and feelings to the world.

MCDOWELL: I have often heard people say that apologetics and worldview training is not critical today? Your thoughts?

MYERS: I think it’s a huge, huge mistake when people say that. Apologetics and worldview training are more important than ever—and students seem to engage with them more than ever. It is different, though. They need to know how their thoughts and feelings fit with how God created reality. They won’t engage unless it affects them personally. They won’t engage unless they can imagine how they can be credible talking with their friends. They won’t engage unless they feel safe—that the adults in their lives really care and won’t be scared off when they hear about what they’re really dealing with. They won’t engage unless they have a chance to talk and ask questions as well as process new information.

MCDOWELL: What are some effective means of teaching worldview?

MYERS: There are two critical factors. At Summit, we imagine these as two strands of a DNA double helix. One strand is truth. The other strand is relationship. Today’s young adults can only embrace truth in the context of relationship. Truth without relationship leads to arrogance. Relationship without truth leads to apathy. The best resources are those that constantly put rungs in the ladder between truth and relationship.

MCDOWELL: What are the most important resources for parents, youth workers, and teachers to help the next generation?

MYERS: Parents, youth workers and teachers are the best resources. Their engagement with one another and with young adults makes the difference. But organizations like Summit are a “Vitamin B12” shot because they give young adults the best chance to meet world-class experts, get answers to their tough questions, and work together with other young adults to knock down the barriers that would stop them from living wholeheartedly for Jesus. We’re seeing amazing, long-lasting results. It’s an investment but it is changing families, churches, and schools.

To register your student for a Summit conference, go to summit.org/thesummit

Summit also provides resources beyond the summer conferences that help you not only understand how strong and robust the Christian worldview is, but also understand its counterfeits. Summit’s newest revision of Understanding the Times introduces students to the six dominant worldviews and the ten key disciplines they influence. It helps Christians understand not only the what, but also the why, to help them understand the times in which we live.

To buy your discounted copy of UTT, go to summit.org/store and use coupon code INTERVIEW for $5 off our already reduced Summit price.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 15 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

Free CrossExamined.org Resource

Get the first chapter of "Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case" in PDF.

Powered by ConvertKit
4 replies
  1. David says:

    The very fact that you have to send your kids to Christian indoctrination bootcamps before they go to college is evidence that your world view can only hold up in a vacuum. Why not just expose them to all the facts, which apologetics absolutely does not do, and let the truth, whatever they decide that is, win out.

    Reply
      • toby says:

        I believe he said, Why not just expose them to all the facts…. The trouble is this would be nearly impossible to do. Even if all things were presented evenly the subtle things like parents saying, “Well your dad and I believe this…” would still sway opinion in a lot of people because we are all looking to fit in and belong in some way. And alienating our parents (or seeming to in a young mind) would be avoided by most kids.

        Reply
    • Louie says:

      The key word is “facts”. If we truely only exposed them to what we know as fact, we wouldn’t have problems at all. It’s when we expose them to the theories/interpretations of others presented as “facts” that we lead people astray.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *