Hey Matt, in a few weeks, I will be teaching the parents of teenagers about defending their faith and preparing their kids for the next stage of life. What do they need to know about the current college environment? What would you recommend they share with their teenagers while they are still at home?
Hey Carson, that’s a great question! From my experience, one of the most important things a parent can do for their child is emphasize the importance of making faith their own. An inherited faith of “My parents are Christian, so I’m a Christian too.” will only get someone so far. When they go to college and face intellectual, spiritual, and moral challenges to their faith (which are abundant in most universities) they won’t have much to fall back on. But if young people ask tough questions and seek answers while they’re still at home, they can go into that environment with their own faith held for their own reasons. This requires the an environment where kids can be open about their doubts (which can be intimidating!). But it’s so worth it to help kids to be immunized against the attacks they will face at college, with a firm foundation of their own faith and relationship with Christ.
Hi Matt, thanks for this answer!
Two follow-up questions:
- What do you recommend in terms of helping a teenager make their faith their own?
- What are the greatest specific challenges in the university right now - intellectually, spiritually, morally? Which battles, in particular, ought they to be prepared for?
Hi Carson, good follow-up questions.
When a friend of mine was a teenager, his parents sat him down and told him “We want you to be a Christian. But if you were thinking of being a Christian just because we are, or because we want you to, don’t. In fact, you’re not allowed!” This might seem dramatic, but it was because his parents were confident in his ability to seek out the truth for himself. They also gave him books on apologetics to be resources for him on his journey. Now, not everyone has to make that kind of a statement, but asking good questions and challenging your kids to explain why they believe what they believe is a good start. Sooner or later they’re going to face topics like “Why do you believe in the Christian God, and not any other?”, “Isn’t the Bible just a book of myths and mistakes?”, and “Science has replaced our need for a God.” Why not bring up those questions sooner when they’re at home and you can seek the answers together?
The university environment is arguably more adverse to faith than ever before. Professors and classmates challenge students with some of the questions I mentioned above, and many more. This is an intellectual and spiritual challenge. In reality, many of the questions and arguments being put forward have been thoroughly answered by theologians and apologists of the past—but if students don’t know this, their faith can easily be shaken. So studying apologetics can be a great preparation for this battle. Morally, students are outside of their homes and less accountable to the preferences of their parents. This, combined with a sexualized culture, can easily lead to moral downfall unless students are already committed to a strong biblical ethic. A strong relationship with the Lord, changing our inner desires, is what is required to overcome this challenge. Here too, I’ve seen apologetics help—when students realize their worldview is really true, they’re more willing to invest in it. In addition, the importance of spiritual disciplines cannot be overstated. We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
2 posts were split to a new topic: What is at the top of your mind and heart, while in an evangelistic dialogue with a skeptic or seeker?
2 posts were split to a new topic: How do I grow as a disciple of Jesus, and as an evangelist?