Every year, while watching March Madness basketball games, I can’t help but think of youth ministries all around the country preparing to launch thousands of graduating seniors into the sea of college faces. I find myself wondering if the faith of these fledgling adults will hold up under the pressure of intellectual attack, new ideas and criticism found on a college campus.
In a post from byFaith, Timothy Keller paints a bleak picture of where America is as a culture:
“This is an unprecedented time in human history…What’s new is the breadth of conviction that there is no such thing as truth. There have never been whole societies built on that idea. Never.
Everyone knows that younger people are far less religious than the generation before … and despite all the things that we’ve been doing for the last 30 years, we’re losing them.”
Zoe Erler, the writer of the byFaith piece, went on to say, “Humanistic perspectives such as rationalism, individualism, relativism, and pragmatism have all contributed to this religious indifference. As well, perhaps, the seeming irrelevance of various evangelical movements has done little to draw the ‘nones’ back into the fold.”
However, Keller notes that the secular college campus may be the best place to develop emerging Christian leaders. Erler writes, “If you’re on a college campus, you’re on the culture’s cutting edge. It is, [Keller] says, our best leadership development pipeline. By exposing people to the cutting edge of culture where they have to deal with the modern mindset, where they have to deal with non-Christians — that, in Keller’s opinion, is the best way to develop pastors and lay leaders.”
Parents and youth leaders feel the pressure to adequately prepare youth with a sound faith that can withstand the test of intellectual scrutiny. In fact, we want youth to not only be able to articulate the gospel to others, but defend it for themselves.