A few weeks ago a youth pastor invited me to do an atheist role play for a group of his Jr. High students. They had read about apparent Bible contradictions and their youth pastor wanted to challenge them. He wanted to see if his youth was able to defend Christianity well and if they knew why they believed Christianity was true. I began to settle into character as an atheist and brought up different problems with the Bible that makes Christianity appear to be false. These students did their best to defend Christianity, but they weren’t prepared. After about 30 minutes I revealed that I was a Christian and we spent the rest of the time talking about how to answer some of the challenges that I brought up. The youth pastor’s goal was to help these students realize that they weren’t prepared to defend their faith in a hope that they will want to study more. The students responded positively with a desire to understand the truth of Christianity.
I left that evening wondering why these students, who have been Christians their whole lives, weren’t able to defend against basic attacks. The answer is simple. They were never taught how to respond. Students rely on parents, pastors, and teachers to teach them what they need to know, but are we training them for the test that will come one day?
The reality is that students’ faith is being tested more and more. Many times, we send students off to college without any way to defend themselves. In every other area we realize the importance of good training. After a young person enlists in the military, he/she goes through months or years of training before being deployed. Before a boxer steps into the ring, he goes through months of training and preparation. Before athletic teams step onto the field, they go through weeks if not months of practice. We understand that in order to play well or in order to defend oneself, there needs to be training before the test. So why is it that we send our students out into the world without any training? Why aren’t we preparing students to defend their convictions before they are attacked? Without tools and training on how to use them, it shouldn’t be a surprise when the student is challenged and fails. Instead of sending students out unprepared, we need to focus on training them.
As a high school Bible teacher, I have realized the need to train students to defend their faith, but this can’t only happen in the classroom. This training needs to happen in the home as well. This begins with parents. Parents have the most influence in their child’s life. If we want to put an end to seeing students walk away from their faith after entering college, we need to join together and focus on preparing our students for the challenges that they will face.