Do Youth Really Need Apologetics? Explore More Content
Brett's monthly letter for November 2008
I hear it from professional youth workers all the time. “Kids are growing up in a postmodern culture. They aren’t interested in reason and evidence.” Are they right?
Sociologist Christian Smith’s groundbreaking book, Soul Searching, is the most comprehensive study on the religious lives of American teenagers. His team of researchers found that students leave behind the faith they grew up in for one primary reason: “some version of intellectual skepticism or disbelief.” When asked why they fell away, teens answered:
- “It didn’t make any sense anymore.”
- “Some stuff is too far-fetched for me to believe.”
- “I think scientifically and there is no real proof.”
- “Too many questions that can’t be answered.”
In other words, teenagers are falling away because of the perceived lack of reason and evidence in religion. So yes, kids are interested in it and when they don’t get it, they tend to leave. Therefore, apologetics has tremendous value for youth and for the church at-large.
First, apologetics removes obstacles to faith. Intellectual struggles are real and powerful. If one questions how a good and all-powerful God can allow suffering and evil, faith in that God is seriously hampered. If evolutionary evidence seems to dispense with God, maybe the idea of God is outdated. There are a multitude of questions and objections that create barriers to faith. Good apologetics remove them.
Second, apologetics builds confidence in the truth of Christianity and, thus, courage to share Christ. If a Christian student thinks there are “too many questions that can’t be answered,” do we really expect her to talk about Christ and risk having those unanswered questions directed at her? Of course not. But when a student has reasons and evidence for faith and can offer much more than “the Bible says so,” her courage to share Christ publicly is greatly strengthened.
I could list a number of other apologetic benefits. Here’s the point: Apologetics must be seen as a necessary component of discipleship, particularly with young people. But how many parents, youth ministries, and churches are making it necessary?
We can no longer treat it as optional lest we lose more youth to the false ideas of our culture. Obviously, the stakes are too high to get this question wrong.
Making apologetics essential for youth,
STR Student Impact