Our Lives as Parents Can Teach Us Something About the Life of the Church

Yesterday I had the honor of speaking to the congregation of North Metro Church in Marietta, Georgia. This thriving, growing church is located near Atlanta, and is shepherded by Pastor Rob McDowell. There’s something special about North Metro, and I knew it three minutes into the first service. There was a unique energy in the room; a vibrant enthusiasm radiating from the congregation. North Metro is young at heart, and it’s obvious. They’re engaged in worship, attentive to the message, and ready to respond. They have a youthful energy, even though their age demographic isn’t particularly young (I met lots of folks my age and older). Most pastors would be delighted to have a church family such as this, and I can’t wait for an opportunity to return. Afterward, as I was sitting in the airport, I started to think about how North Metro has been able to form this passionate family. I recalled all the conversations Rob and I had prior to the event as we toured the church campus. North Metro “gets it” because folks my age continue to value the needs and priorities of young people ahead of their own desires and comforts. All of us learn to do something similar in the context of our families, and we ought to use this experience to rethink our mission as a Church.

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Yet Another Student Survey Confirming the Need for Case Making

It’s been about a month since Larry Taunton of Fixed Point Foundation posted an article for the Atlantic entitled Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity. Taunton’s organization has been interviewing members of atheist college groups (the Secular Student Alliance and Freethought Societies). “These college groups are the atheist equivalents to Campus Crusade: They meet regularly for fellowship, encourage one another in their (un)belief, and even proselytize. They are people who are not merely irreligious; they are actively, determinedly irreligious.” His findings once again confirm what studies have been telling us for many years now: young people (high school and college aged) are leaving the church. More than this, however, Taunton’s research provides us with the reasons why young people are leaving, and, if we respond accordingly, a strategy for addressing the problem.

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Parents Are Still the First Line of Defense

After a recent presentation at a large church here in Southern California, a woman approached me at the book table and eagerly asked me to sign a copy of Cold-Case Christianity for her daughter. She asked me to write something compelling on the title page in an effort to encourage her daughter to read the text and reconsider her decision to walk away from Christianity. This mom’s story was all too familiar. She raised her family in the church and did her best to connect her daughter to the church’s youth leadership. She drove her to church events, prayed with her and did her best to model the Christian life. But after her daughter’s first semester at a California university, she came home with a number of questions her mom simply could not answer. At the end of her first year at college, the daughter announced that she was no longer a believer. Her mom was heartbroken.
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Who's Waiting for Your Kids?

Who’s waiting for your kids?  In a few short years, they will leave the safety of your home and church and head off to college.  Who will they meet?  What ideas will they encounter?  What moral choices will they face? 

For most adults, it’s been quite a few years since they’ve set foot on a college campus.  Let us bring you up-to-speed on who and what is waiting for your kids: 

  • Oakland University psychology professor Todd Shackelford, offers class PSY-315 entitled, “Evolutionary Psychology,” where he provides an evolutionary explanation for how religious individuals come to “hold and to have beliefs for which there is no evidence.”
  • Yale, Brown, Harvard, and other U.S. universities sponsor an annual on-campus “Sex Week,” where porn stars and sex workers lead various activities and workshops.
  • Zeta Psi frat boys at Yale University hold up signs reading, “We Love Yale Sluts,” while surrounding the Yale Women’s Center on campus.
  • In February 2011, Northwestern University professor J. Michael Bailey brings two sex workers onto campus for a “live demonstration” after class.
  • According to a 2006 study by sociologists Neil Gross of Harvard University and Solon Simmons of George Mason University, there is a much higher percentage of professing atheists and agnostics (26%) among the ranks of college professors than the general U.S. population.  In addition, 51% of professors described the Bible as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts,” while only 6% of college professors said the Bible is “the actual word of God.”
  • According to the Institute for Jewish and Community research, a survey of 1,200 college faculty, more than half have “unfavorable” feelings toward Evangelical Christians.
  • Almost half of full-time college students in the U.S. binge drink or abuse drugs at least once-a-month.
  • In 2006, the Secular Student Alliance, had 50 student-led atheist clubs on U.S. college campuses, but by 2012, there were more than 300 clubs nationwide.
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Who's Waiting for Your Kids?




In a few short years, students will leave our homes and graduate from our churches. They'll head off to college. Who's waiting for them? What kinds of people will they meet? And are they ready?

Transforming Little Heretics

“God is like a three-headed dragon,” offered one high school student.  “I think God is like a Transformer,” blurted out a junior higher in the front row.  I had just asked students at this summer camp to give a brief definition of the Trinity.  They reached for all sorts of analogies to explain God’s nature.  Heresy soon followed (Disclaimer:  no heretical students were burned at the stake). 

Next, I asked for biblical justification.  “What Scripture tells us that God is a trinity?  Where in the Bible do we find the word?”  Students began thumbing through their Bibles, searching for the elusive verses.  A few went straight to their concordances.  Several minutes passed.  No verses were offered.  Finally, a female underclassman ventured a guess.  “There is no Bible verse that uses the word Trinity, right?” 

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How Should Youth Leaders Prepare Students for College?

Last week I posted troubling statistics about the amount of churched youth who walk away once they're in college.   CPYU has been interviewing college students as part of their College Transition Initiative.  They've asked students, "As you reflect on your church youth group experience, what are some things you wish your youth group would have done more of to prepare you for college?"  Their answers are instructive for parents, pastors, youth leaders--any of us who teach youth in some capacity.  

Alysia at the University of Illinois said:

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How Many Youth are Leaving the Church?

If you discovered about half of the students in your church's youth ministry were going to walk away from Christ after entering college, would you do something about it?  I hope so.  That's not a very good retention rate. 

But whatpercentage of Christian youth are actually leaving the church?  There’sbeen some debate about the actual number, with some saying as little as 4% will remain Christian, while others suggest there’s virtually no exodus.  Christian Smith tells us that evangelicals have been "behaving badly with statistics"and quickly dispenses with the 4% "panic-attack" stats.   But can weget some idea of the percentage of youth leaving the church withoutbeing irresponsible with numbers? 

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