“The average Christian does not realize that there is an intellectual war going on in the universities and in the professional journals and scholarly societies. Christianity is being attacked from all sides as irrational or outmoded, and millions of students, our future generation of leaders, have absorbed this viewpoint. This is a war which we cannot afford to lose…”
– William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, 1994
Heading off to university right after high school can be a shock. The changing social & moral peer pressures are difficult enough but when these are added to the barrage of intellectual attacks undermining Christianity, many young Christians struggle to maintain their faith.
These young believers often struggle in their spiritual walk because they have unanswered questions. They may have grown up in Christian homes where they had an encounter with God; their hearts were touched by the love of Christ and they accepted Him as Lord and Savior. But after time, life’s hardships tarnish the luster of early emotions and the difficult questions begin knocking on the door: “How can a good God allow so much pain and suffering?” “Why did God command killing in the Old Testament?” “Is the Bible reliable?” These may be questions of their own or questions asked by non-believers for which they have no response.
Often times, people who’ve been raised in Christian homes go through a questioning season as their Christianity transitions from resting on the faith of their parents to becoming that of their own. This season often happens during the college years when young believers are thrown from the safety of the Christian community and into the “outside world” where the faith they held as a child can no longer hold up to scrutiny. The tragedy is that some of these searching Christians (perhaps many more than we would like to admit) eventually come to the conclusion that maybe Christianity doesn’t have answers… and therefore, maybe it is not true. This conclusion may not be out of rebellion but out of an intellectually honest quest for the truth.
How many walk away from their faith during their time at university? It’s difficult to say specifically. Some surveys have put it between 50%-70% and one denomination realized they were losing 88% of their young people who attend secular universities (http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/are-young-people-really-leaving-christianity/).
Here at YWAM Maui, these statistics have burdened us for a long time and we felt led to do something about it.
This July, we will be running our annual college prep seminar called, “Reformation Generation.” The goal of this 4-week program is to prepare university students to not only survive spiritually but to thrive in their faith during these crucial years of education. In this seminar, we discuss the challenges believers can expect to face in a college setting, we apply the critical thinking skills needed to recognize false ideas, and we develop the spiritual disciplines needed to keep relationship with Christ at the center.
If you or someone you know would like to be equipped to survive and thrive as a Christian in college, please join us this summer!
By Tom Osterhus
Base Director – YWAM Maui