There are many reasons why providing Christian youth with apologetics training is vitally important. Before teaching students how to give reasons for why they believe Christianity to be true, we must first be ready to help them understand that Christianity is rational so that they are ready to engage the flood of ideologies they are encountering.
There are many influences that are potentially giving them reasons not to believe.
1. Social Media is a huge influence in their lives.
While the caricatures of the animals on Noah’s ark and Daniel in the lions’ den make are cute, they convey that the events depicted are fiction. What differentiates how little ones view Bible stories from Dr. Seuss stories? Also, our use of words such as “story” and “characters” when teaching the Bible serve to discredit the events as being real. As a result, as kids grow up, some struggle with trusting the Biblical accounts as reliable.
3. As a result of the above items, teens are asking more questions.
Even if it is just in their heads, they are wondering about morality, mortality, the reliability of the Bible, the possibility of miracles, and dozens of other questions that directly impact their faith. They need to be encouraged to ask these questions. These questions aren’t harmful to someone’s Christian faith. Having influential adults dismiss these questions by saying “You just gotta believe'” is harmful.
4. Many of their parents don’t have a Christian worldview.
According to a Barna group survey, more than half of self-professed Christians don’t believe there is absolute truth. Only half of Christians believe the Bible to be true, and almost one fourth of the Christians who responded to the survey believe that Jesus sinned during his life on earth. As an extension of these facts, many Christian teens are being raised in homes in which fundamental truths about Christianity are not believed.
5. In college, they will not be encouraged to be free-thinkers.
There is a misconception that college is an environment in which students are trained to think for themselves. This is just not true. Through state and many private universities, students are not taught to think for themselves, but rather are told they need to jettison their religion beliefs in favor of intellectually fulfilling pursuits. Without being equipped with a solid Christian worldview and reasons for faith, many kids will leave college with an entirely new set of ideas and ways of looking at the world.
I encourage teens to ask questions and to know why they believe whatever it is they believe. Only in doing this can one really be certain of what their own beliefs are and the reasons to believe them. Young people need to know that Christians are not avoiding tough questions or not thinking through the implications of faith in Jesus. By educating teens in apologetics, they are then prepared to engage in new material in college and properly evaluate ideas that compete with, or contradict, Christianity.
Question: Do you think apologetics training is important for youth today? Did you receive any such training as a teen? I would love to hear from you on this topic.