The Challenges Facing Young Christians
by J Warner Wallace
Every other week, from May to August, I have the honor of speaking with students at Summit Worldview Academy. I typically teach on the nature of truth, the reliability of the gospels, and the evidence for God’s existence. The students are eager to learn and have many good questions during the breaks, during our lunch and dinner time together, and at an evening session specifically set aside for questions. The students usually share a number of stories related to the ways they were already being challenged as young Christians. Many have experienced a season of doubt and are grateful for the training they receive at Summit. Dr. Jeff Myers, the president of Summit Ministries, has assembled an incredible collection of thinkers, teachers and trainers to help prepare students to face challenges and “analyze the various ideas that are currently competing for their hearts and minds.” These young people are eager to prepare themselves for these encounters. Christian students are surrounded by competing worldviews from a very young age. As I speak with the young men and women at Summit, I think about the many ways our kids are challenged from childhood through their college years:
They Are Challenged by the Media
Young Christians are challenged very early, beginning with their first exposure to television, movies and the internet. Much of the media is aligned against Christian values, and Americans spend about one-third of their free time, (more than the next 10 most popular leisure activities combined) watching some form of television. The messages communicated by television programming are often in direct opposition to the teaching of Christianity, and students are deeply impacted by what they absorb from the media. Two out of every three shows on television, for example, include sexual content (a dramatic increase over the past 15 years). 50% of the couples involved in sexual behavior in television programming are depicted in casual relationships (10% of these couples had just met, and 9% of television programs depict sexual behavior between teens). In a set of Kaiser Family Foundation studies, 76% of teens said that one reason young people have sex is because TV shows and movies “make it seem normal”. College students who were exposed to the many examples of sexual behavior on television were more likely to believe their peers engaged in those same activities.
They Are Challenged by Elementary and High School Programming
Make no mistake about it, when Christian values are attacked in the public education system, the basis for those beliefs (Christianity) is also attacked. Here in California, for example…
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