August 29, 2011
Most parents believe that their children’s Christian faith really won’t come under attack until they leave home for college. They have seen other kid’s faith falter in college and naturally assume that the university environment is toxic to a Christian’s faith. While the last part of that assumption may be true, the rest of these assumptions are false.
First, Christian young people begin to have doubts about their Christian faith long before they head off to college. That is the researched conclusion from the book Already Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer. On my radio program they explained the results of their research. American Research Group made 20,000 phone calls and conducted detailed surveys of 1,000 twenty-somethings who used to attend evangelical churches on a regular basis. When asked when they first had doubts, 40 percent said in Middle School and 44 percent said in High School.
The study found that we are losing our Christian kids in middle school and high school rather than college. The title of the book says it all. They are “already gone” even though they are sitting in the pews and going to church. Ham and Beemer concluded that the youth in our churches are not being taught apologetics and therefore do not know how to answer the skeptical questions of our age.
A second issue is whether the university is toxic to Christian faith. Of course it is, but the latest studies by sociologist Christian Smith shows that youth that do not go to college show the same (even slightly greater) drop off in religious commitment. In other words, the culture is just as toxic to Christian faith as the university.
Parents (as well as pastors, teachers, and youth leaders) need to understand the crucial need to prepare our youth for a culture that is hostile to their faith. They may be in our churches and youth groups, but there is growing evidence that many of them are “already gone.” I’m Kerby Anderson, and that’s my point of view.