Arming Christian Students With the Truth
by J Warner Wallace
This week, we’ve been examining a strategy to stem the tide of young Christians leaving the Church during their college years. I suggest we stop teaching and start training. I’ve outlined a simple model (using T.R.A.I.N. as an acronym) to help describe the difference between training and teaching. Teaching is about imparting knowledge; training is about preparing for battle. If we want to adequately prepare students for the challenges they will face in their university years, we need to test them to expose their weaknesses, require more from them than we think they can handle, arm them with the truth (and teach them how to articulate it), involve them in the battlefield of ideas, and nurture their wounds as we model the nature of Jesus. The third step in this training process involves arming students with the truth.
In my experience as a youth pastor, I learned the importance of providing intellectual tools and training. I watched my first graduating class of seniors walk away from Christianity in large percentages before I embraced a Case Making approach with my students. After observing the struggle these seniors experienced, I changed the way I prepared my students. I began to draw upon my experience as a police officer for guidance. Young officers
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are given and number of tools to help us do the job, but even more importantly, we are provided with the necessary training in how to use these tools. When it comes to equipping Christian students, the evidences for God’s existence, the reliability of the Bible, and the truth of the Christian worldview are the tools we must provide (sources like On Guard and Cold-Case Christianity may be helpful). Beyond this, however, young Christians need to know how to think about these evidences and communicate them to others (resources like Tactics and How to Talk to a Skeptic may be helpful here).
When young officers train, we are exposed (some for the first time) to the reality of challenge we will be facing. Our training officers are tough. They often tell us, “The more you sweat in here, the less you’ll bleed out there.” They don’t hesitate to show us everything we might encounter in the field. In a similar way, we have to prepare students by exposing them directly to the challenges they will face from an aggressive opposition. It’s not enough to prepare them with the evidence from our side of the argument; we’ve got to address the claims of the opposition directly. This requires us to expose students to the most substantive claims of atheism we can find in the short time we have these students in our midst…