As noted in several prominent studies, many Christian youth leave the church in their teen years. One of the most frequently cited reasons given by those who leave the faith is that Christianity does not provide answers to life’s most important questions. This is so sad to hear; firstly, because the Christian worldview actually does provide these answers, in fact, the Christian worldview provides the best explanation for the reality of the world as we know it. Secondly, this is tragic because the parents of these youth and their church were not equipped to provide these valuable answers.
This should be a huge wake-up call to the church and should spur all of us on to become skilled and compassionate Christian apologists who can help our youth, as well as skeptics, come to a true understanding of the answers that Christianity provides to life’s deepest questions.
I believe a lot of this responsibility lies firstly with parents and I hope to write more about that important charge in another post. Churches, particularly youth leaders, also need be able to make a case for Christianity as well as understand competing worldviews and their flaws.
Fortunately, parents and church staff are not on their own. Several great organizations have made it their mission to help equip Christian youth with a deeper understanding of the Christian worldview. Below are some organizations that offer apologetic or worldview programs, curriculum or resources for Christian youth. With the exception of the Biola apologetics conferences, I do not have personal experience with any of these programs but have selected them based on my understanding of what they offer, their goals and mission, etc. I’m sure there are other good programs out there so feel free to share in the comments about other programs you may know of.
Camps or Programs with an Apologetics or Worldview Focus
Impact 360 Institute – Impact 360 Institute, located in Pine Mountain, Georgia, has a number of worldview training programs geared towards high schoolers though young adults. Featured programs include 4 day conferences, 2 week worldview and leaderships programs for high schoolers, a gap year experience, and programs for college students and young professionals. Each program is built on a three pillar philosophy: 1) Know Jesus More Deeply, 2) Be Transformed in Your Character, and 3) Live a Life of Kingdom Influence. Speakers and staff include a number of well-known Christian apologists, speakers, and leaders.
Summit Ministries – Summit Ministries offers a number of programs focused on equipping youth, from high school to young adults, with a mission to “cultivate rising generations to resolutely champion a biblical worldview.” Programs include a twelve day immersion and Summit Semester for college freshmen. The twelve day conferences take place in California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee and faculty include many top-notch apologetics and worldview scholars. Summit Ministries also produces an excellent worldview curriculum that can be used on its own and would be a great resource for families and home-schoolers.
Worldview Academy – The key program of Worldview Academy are the week-long camps held in 22 locations around the country. The camps focus on worldview, apologetics, evangelism, and leadership and can even be used for college credit at certain universities. Worldview Academy’s goal is to help believers “to think and to live in accord with a biblical worldview so that they will serve Christ and lead the culture.” The sessions are taught by a full-time, traveling staff assisted by college-age small group leaders.
Shorter Apologetics Events for Youth and Adults
reTHINK Student Conferences – A conference put on by apologetics ministry Stand to Reason, the reTHINK conferences exist “to provoke a new generation to rethink their worldview, recapture the truth, and then reengage the world for the cause of Christ.” In 2017-2018, two-day conferences are being held in California, Alabama and Texas and feature an impressive line-up of speakers.
Biola Apologetics events – The Christian Apologetics program at Biola University hosts 1-2 day apologetics conferences around the country. The conferences feature apologetics professors from the program as well as other apologists and though not strictly for youth, provide a great opportunity for youth and adults to deepen learn together. I attended one up in my neck of the woods in Portland, Oregon and it was outstanding.
Our youth are going to face hostility towards their faith, especially on the college campus. If we parents, youth leaders and others haven’t prepared them to think deeply about their faith and be able to offer a reasoned, winsome defense then we have not served them well. Programs and events like those listed above should encourage us that there are groups and resources out there that can help us. Not that we want to pass off our teaching and mentoring responsibilities off on others but to know that there are experts in apologetics and worldview who we can turn to for help as we equip our youth to boldly live out their faith.