Hi Clare, my last job was at a group home for boys 14-18 in the juvenile probation system. It was a real joy for me and I discovered the perceived boundaries that the boys had about me, (an old white guy) melted away once they realized that I believed in their value as a person. Which opened up conversations about where their value came from IE God. How do you approach the young people in your apologetics program, and do you find that kindness and a warm smile removes the boundaries of mistrust that the world has taught them?
Thank you for your question; thank God for the great work you have been doing with youth in the juvenile probation system.
I have also worked with youth in UK secondary education and with church youth groups and I agree that kindness and a warm smile are great steps forward in removing boundaries of mistrust. Relationships are built when we make ourselves open and vulnerable. In one sense, this openness and vulnerability is what Ravi Zacharias talks about as ‘The Ultimate Calling’ of Christians:
“…the Scriptures give us a clear picture of the apologetic Christian: one who has first set apart Christ in his or her heart as Lord, who responds with answers to the questioner with gentleness and respect. Therefore, one must not overlook the stark reality that the way one’s life is lived out will determine the impact. Few obstacles to faith are as serious as expounding the unlived life… This call to a life reflecting the person of Christ is the ultimate calling upon the apologist. Skeptics are not slow to notice when there is a disparity, and because of that, may question the whole gospel in its supernatural claim.” Ravi Zacharias, The Logic of God, Ch 2.
So, added to our kindness and warmth to young people, we should also live an authentic life. Possibly owing in part to what you refer to as the “mistrust that the world has taught them”, Generation Z are experts at sensing when people are fake! And they are not afraid to call it out!
Regarding youth apologetics in RZIM’s ministry, being open to whatever question young people have has been effective in sharing the gospel and dispelling misconceptions about God and the Christian faith. The REBOOT programme of events has the hashtag, #noquestionofflimits and this has removed any taboos or self-consciousness young people have about asking questions. During panel Q&A sessions, they can submit questions anonymously using an online forum and RZIM speakers give a response. You can find out more about REBOOT here: https://www.rebootglobal.org/
This link may be helpful in navigating some of the concerns that young people have today: https://www.barna.com/research/disciple-next-generation/
I have just started reading this book but it has come highly recommended by RZIM staff: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Faith-Exiles-Generation-Digital-Babylon/dp/0801094186/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=faith+for+exiles&qid=1576845257&sr=8-1