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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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What Christian Teens Really Believe

I recently read about a survey designed to discover the opinions of teens regarding the trustworthiness of the Bible and what it says about Jesus. Is Jesus God? Did Jesus physically live, die, and come back to life? Is Jesus is the only way to heaven? Troy Anderson, an award-winning journalist at The Press-Enterprise, Los Angeles Daily News, Reuters, Newsmax, Christianity Today, Charisma, and many other magazines and online publications, writes:

One in three Christian teenagers doesn’t believe Jesus is the only way to heaven.

And about two-thirds of teens in church youth groups have measurable doubts about the trustworthiness of the Bible or disbelieve it entirely.

These are just a couple of the findings in a survey of Christian teenagers in youth groups from 16 denominations. . . .

In a book examining the findings – The Jesus Survey: What Christian Teens Really Believe and Why – former youth pastor and bestselling author Mike Nappa wrote the results left him a “bit shell-shocked.”

“Among these Christian kids in our youth ministries, a full 10 percent have decided that the biblical accounts about Jesus simply can’t be trusted. . . .”

And the clear majority of the rest (60 percent) are either uncertain or unsettled and confused about whether or not the Bible can be trusted. . . .

In the book, Nappa cites an illuminating passage from Almost Christian: What the Faith of our Teenagers is Telling the American Church, a book by Kenda Creasy Dean, a professor of youth, church and culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. Dean lays part of the blame for the “blasé religiosity” of many teenagers on a “watered-down gospel.”

You may read this entire article here. . . .

I have come to believe that most youth groups tend to emphasize activities over the Scriptures. The youth in these groups need a solid diet of apologetics during this time of life. More and more they will find themselves in the company of people who are determined to challenge their faith in God. Some movies, television programs, and books will always be around to provide negative views of Christianity. However, many of the teenagers in our youth groups will soon be in colleges where the over-abundance of liberal, atheistic, and agnostic professors delight in making themselves seem wise and superior by belittling students who are not prepared to have their faith challenged.

Our youth departments are failing our teenagers. Our ministries must begin preparing our youth to defend their faith in an antagonistic world. Perhaps then, fewer of our youth will walk away from Christianity during the college years. I repeat – give our youth a curriculum which teaches them how to defend their Christian faith.

I am reminded that in the times of Hosea God complained and promised His wrath upon the Hebrew priests who had failed to teach the laws of God correctly to the people: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” (Hosea 4:6 ESV) Evidently, God takes the matter of teaching his people much more seriously than we seem to!

Are Our Youth Ministries Failing Our Families And The Church?

There are a growing number of people who suggest that today’s youth ministries should be disbanded. They believe the common practice of separating congregations by age for worship and Bible study is “unbiblical.” The National Center for Family Integrated Churches in association with LeClerc Brothers Motion Pictures is now stating their case in the documentary film, “Divided: Is Age-Segregated Ministry Multiplying or Dividing the Church?” See the following trailer:

The documentary follows a young Christian filmmaker on a quest to find answers to why his generation is increasingly turning away from attending church. Recent surveys have shown that as many as 85 percent of young people will leave the church and many never return. In the film, Dr. Voddie Baucham, Jr. of Grace Family Church is interviewed:

Many feel that dividing children from adults at church is an unbiblical concept borrowed from humanistic philosophies. They believe that the adults should gather with the children for worship, which includes preaching. A Biblical example may be found in Deuteronomy 12 where Moses commands the parents to bring whole families to come and worship and sacrifice. Doug Phillips of Vision Forum is also interviewed:

“Divided” will be an uncomfortable eye-opening experience for many. Most youth ministries seek to “entertain” in order to attract youth to their ministry, so that they may teach them the Gospel. However, instead of “training them in the Gospel” they continue to be “entertained” in order to keep up attendance! The result of this strategy is evident when the children turn into adults. The adults want a preacher who entertains them.

The movie “Divided: Is Age-Segregated Ministry Multiplying or Dividing the Church?” may be seen for free at the following link until September 15th, 2011. This movie is a call to repentance and faithfulness. I encourage you to watch it and share it with your friends.

Watch “Divided” here for free until September 15th. . . .

Keeping The Faith In College

A crowd of college students at the 2007 Pittsb...

As a Christian and an educator, I have always been very concerned about church-going teenagers who after high school graduation leave home for a college or university education which is quite often hostile to Christianity and the principles this country was founded on.  Recently, I have been happy to hear that a new resource has been developed to help high school graduates stay grounded in their Christian faith as they endure college

There are, unfortunately, many students who make shipwreck of their faith during their college years.  Often, this is related to the poverty of sound Christian teaching in our churches for this age group.  Our students are simply unprepared to defend their faith in an often critical classroom environment.  Enter college ministry veteran John Bryson, who is currently teaching pastor at Fellowship Memphis and who has helped develop a six-week video study called “College Ready”. The purpose of the video is to create a strategic tool for parents and youth ministries to equip students to do well in college.

Teaming up with Men’s Fraternity founder Robert Lewis to develop the series, Bryson points out that church history reveals that many revivals began with students on a college campus.  The prepared Christian college student may find his campus experiences an opportunity for great influence on others or if he possesses no sound foundation of the knowledge of Christ, he will certainly be subject to a potential crisis of faith.

Find out more about College Ready here. . . .

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