The Church or the University: Who’s More To Blame?

by Mike Duran · 77 comments

I recently Unfriended someone on Facebook, a former student in my church Youth Group. Their posts had turned increasingly political and hostile toward religion. They were now officially on the Bash the Church bandwagon, critical of all they (and their parents) once held sacred. So what happened to the innocent teenager I once knew? Answer: They went to college.

Radio talk show host Dennis Prager, in a column entitled Why God Isn’t Doing Well These Days, offered four reasons why the belief in God is declining in America. His number one reason is

…increasingly large numbers of men and women attend university, and Western universities have become essentially secular (and leftist) seminaries. Just as the agenda of traditional Christian and Jewish seminaries is to produce religious Christians and religious Jews, the agenda of Western universities is to produce (left-wing) secularists.

…the more university education a person receives, the more he is likely to hold secular and left-wing views.

Prager’s argument is a fairly common one, an argument employed by many Evangelicals: Growing secularism is due to an atheistic academia.

While I don’t disagree with the assertion that “Western universities have become essentially secular (and leftist) seminaries,” I question whether or not universities are the primary cause of secularism in America. You see, I think the Church is more at fault for the rise of secularism than the University. Or to put it another way:

The growth of secularism is not due to the rise of the University but the decline of religion.

 

In Why College Students Are Losing Their Faith,  Conor Friedersdorf takes on Prager’s assertion this way:

if four years of college undo 18 years of parenting and religious affiliation, perhaps the faith community’s tenuous hold is the problem, not the particular place outside its bubble where that hold evaporates. Consider the believers we’ve seen in history. With all the persecution that Judaism and Christianity have survived over the centuries, an argument that sites America’s Top 310 Colleges as a first order adversary is hard to credit. (emphasis mine)

Is it just me, or do we Christians constantly look for scapegoats for our lack of cultural influence? Instead of looking in the mirror and letting judgment begin in the house of God (I Pet. 4:17), we point fingers at Hollywood, the media, the press, and the universities. Everyone’s to blame but us. No wonder America is being swiftly secularized — Christians have been in cultural retreat for the last half century, building our own echo chambers to keep us unspoiled from the world.

Listen, the Church has survived centuries of persecution, corruption, martyrdom, even genocide, and now we want to blame… colleges? Jesus said that the gates of hell could not withstand His church (Matt. 16:18). I think the secular university fits in that category.

Your thoughts?

Carradee June 17, 2011 at 6:52 AM

My thoughts are that you’re right, and Already Gone is one title that backs us up.

I went to an aggressively secular college, but I haven’t lost my faith. I saw many other students who started struggling, doubting, and giving up their faith altogether.

Those peers of mine fell into 2 groups:
1. Those who trusted their professors more than they trusted Scripture.
2. Those who wanted to trust Scripture but didn’t know any data to back them up; nor did they know where they could find such counter-arguments.

When kids are taught to believe something “Just because” and given a bunch of “proofs that it’s true” based on emotions and experiences that a secular person would call coincidental, is it any wonder that they leave the faith when presented an alternative that makes sense?

Mike Duran June 17, 2011 at 7:39 AM

I think far too many parents assume that their kid’s faith is actually the kid’s and not the parent’s. Going to Sunday School, attending church, and regurgitating Bible stories is not necessarily evidence of genuine faith. Besides, how can our anemic faith produce anything but a generation of spiritual invertebrates? Sending our kids off to college “spiritually soft” must make those atheist professors salivate.

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 6:57 AM

Mike Licona, head of the apologetic division of the North American Mission Board, spoke to our church last year. I’ll never forget his illustration. He showed several clips of professional football players getting hit and hit HARD on the field. Some of them lost their helmets from the blows. I listened as everyone in the congregation just groaned and moaned in pain as we watched the clips. Then, Mike picked up a gym bag and removed a football helmet. He showed us how it was constructed from the durability of the outer shell to the cushioning inside to protect the head. He made the point that if a professional football player did not wear a helmet, he would very likely die from the blows he would receive. Then, holding the helmet in the air, he made this statement, “And yet, we as the church, send our children out into a hostile world to face a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christianity without a helmet on.” The point he was making was how the church has abandoned intellectual pursuits, how we have turned our back on doctrine and academic thinking and focused on feel good, romanticized praise choruses and wealth and health philosophy at the expense of critical thinking and developing the mind. So, I agree wholeheartedly. The church has abandoned the academic world to the atheists and secularists and we have been doing this for over a hundred years. While the colleges are to blame, we are equally guilty. We are not preparing our students to think critically, to engage the mind, to view the existence of God in more than just blind faith but rather to embrace the faith that is based on the Greek word that is its origin, pistis. And that word means to trust in something for which you have seen the EVIDENCE. As an apologist, I knew exactly where you are coming from. Blaming the colleges doesn’t prepare our kids. That’s OUR job and we are seriously screwing it up!

Katherine Coble June 17, 2011 at 8:25 AM

Exactly.

Mike Duran June 17, 2011 at 8:31 AM

Bruce, of my four kids, two have went through college (one is currently working on his second Masters). Both have spiritually “survived.” I attribute it in part to my relentless grilling of their faith and logical processes. And a deep suspicion and skepticism of academic elites. Poor kids have had to listen to me for over 18 years…

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Have “went” to college? What are you? An author? Ha Ha!

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 9:45 AM

Oh, I see, went “through” college. My bad! Just kidding. I’m evidently not the product of intelligent design this morning!

Katherine Coble June 17, 2011 at 9:58 AM

It should still be ‘have gone through’.

Yes, i AM the person who is picky about verbal tense, to the point where she wont read “By Darkness Hid”.

JoLynne Lyon June 17, 2011 at 7:13 AM

I agree with you. People will go on believing if their faith is truly a part of them. I’d argue that for too many of us, faith is a passive thing–almost a Sunday entertainment. While I filter out harmful things in my home and on my computer, I believe the most important thing I can do for my children is to give them experiences that ground them in their faith. I want them serving others and developing their own relationship with God. If they do that, they’ll be able to figure out what they really believe when their faith is challenged–and those challenges will surely come.

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 7:33 AM

JoLynne, you are so right. I became interested in apologetics early in my children’s lives and I tried my best to teach them discernment and critical thinking. Don’t just accept everything you hear out in the secular world, but don’t take everything you hear in church literally either. Study the Bible. I taught them to really STUDY the Bible, to know it, to internalize, to understand the history behind it and to view the world through a God centered perspective that was grounded in reality, not magical thinking. It worked for them. My son minored in religion in a local college supported by a major denomination and the head of his religion department was an atheist! He would come home on the weekends and make statements like, “You’ll never believe what they tried to get me to believe this week.” He was able to discern the lies from the Truth. And, this rootedness in the scriptures and why they are true bled over into their thought life, their relationships with others, and their incredible love for other people. I thank God they were receptive to His word and His reality! Now, both of my kids are grown and working in church and they’ve never struggled with major challenges to their faith. They can answer tough questions from skeptics and their faith is not as fragile as it could have been. I pause here to give God all the credit for this. We believe in a worldview that is rooted in reality and the very fabric of this marvelous universe God has created and we believe in a Savior who actually existed in history and actually did the things He claims to have done and we have proof for that! We don’t believe in fantasies or feel good religions or internal, subjective religions. Our scriptures are the only works of religion that invite scrutiny and testing. Hold fast and keep the faith!

Jan Lazo-Davis June 17, 2011 at 8:26 AM

Bruce, You have spoken Truth imo. After leaving college, with a weak faith, I found shallow bible studies which did not challenge either reading the Word, or having deep discussions with other Christians. It has taken me many years to get past those shallow – feel good – ways to worship and to delve deeply into Scripture.

Tony June 17, 2011 at 7:52 AM

I agree.

College and our secular culture is a big part of it, but it’s nothing that can’t be remedied with proper preparation and retaliation. One of the biggest problems in my opinion is the Church’s unwillingness to study or practice apologetics. They’ve given us no reason to believe. It’s just the same ol’ hymns followed by the same ol’ sermons. We’re afraid to talk about anything relevant. Anything difficult. Anything that makes us a little uncomfortable. Especially doubt.

Certainly, the secular world we live in today is to blame quite a bit. As much as a battlefield and the foes we meet on it are to blame for death. But the better trained our soldiers, the more likely they are to survive when the bullets start flying. And at this point, it seems like we’re being sent in without guns and armor.

It’s a subject that hits close to home. Three close friends of mine fell from faith upon entering college. One of which helped keep my own faith alive when I was in High School. She in particular was a stronger Christian than I was, and in many ways than I am now. The only difference between me and her — the difference that meant my clinging to faith, and her loss of it — is that I’m stubborn. And I love a good argument. I fell in love with apologetics right out of High School. Thank God.

One last thing: I think people like you are playing a big role as well, Mike, in helping (not hurting). The reason secularism has gained so much success is because it was unafraid to engage the culture. I truly believe that we’ll gain ground only when we start “attacking” from all sides. Especially via art, which like Universities, has become saturated with secularist/liberal thought.

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 8:05 AM

Tony, I’m sorry to hear about your friends. I have had the same experience. But, you have hit upon what I have discovered is an interesting connect with apologetics. And, that is the arts. I would never have put the two together. Apologetics is academic and intellectual and philosophical. Art is more, well, abstract. But, art is a perfect medium for challenging the world’s view. It is a wonderful place to place our “arguments” in story form. After all, it is the Story that God is writing that fuels our very existence here in this universe. It is a Story resisted by science and philosophy. But, our stories can reflect the bigger truth from God’s story. This is one reason I really enjoyed Mike’s book, “The Resurrection” because it dared to challenge world views about deity and divinity and it made the reader think! Art makes us feel, but it really works when it makes us think about our presuppositions. Isn’t this how the secular art destroys theism? Think of the images of the crucifixion immersed in urine that was so celebrated years ago or “The DaVinci Code” and it’s claims to be based on “fact”. We, as Christian authors, particularly in the speculative faith realm have a perfect platform for broaching these ideas and concepts to a skeptical world. Our “crossover” stories can reach unbelievers. This happened with my second book. A reader gave it to his skeptical brother and the kid came to Christ! I was amazed! To God by the glory! So, we can use our art as an apologetic tool. What do you think of that?

Jill June 17, 2011 at 8:11 AM

Secularization begins the day parents send their children off to kindergarten. At that point, the family faith will be at odds w/ the child’s institutionalized world, and parents will have to work harder to guard the hearts and minds of their offspring. And parents, please don’t be ignorant about what your children are being exposed to. My parents had no idea that I was bullied, that I had teachers who were vocally hostile to Christianity, that I was exposed to overt sexuality of the hetero and homo kind, that I was exposed to all manner of drugs. My parents wouldn’t have known anything was wrong if I hadn’t dropped out of high school. It’s no wonder the foundation is already shaky by the time children hit college age. I ended up graduating from a private Christian school. By the way, the rate of those who stayed in the faith, to all outward appearances, was much higher for my friends from the Christian high school than from the public–I’m talking about a BIG percentage difference. Another percentage you might be interested in–the rate of those from the private school who attended college to some degree was much higher, as well–somewhere around 85%.

The foundation parents give their children must be strong. And I’m not actually advocating for private school over public–just a strong foundation. My Lutheran friends would argue w/ me that it doesn’t matter because the Holy Spirit is responsible for the gift of faith, not man. But they usually backtrack when I say, “So it doesn’t matter how we raise our children, then?”

Ultimately, my question for you is this: how does unfriending this person help in any way? Why did you unfriend this person? I honestly would like to know. If he was truly hostile to Christianity, would he be your friend at all?

Mike Duran June 17, 2011 at 8:42 AM

Jill, we home-schooled each of our four kids for a while, and once we decided it was time to send them to public school, we remained very involved in the process. So I do think Christian education can be helpful, as long as it’s about sending them into the world, not sheltering them from it.

As to why I unfriended this person, that is a very good question, and not something I normally do (I think I’ve unfriended 3 people since on FB, two because of what I considered Spam). We became friends simply because we knew each other. But after several terse exchanges re: religion and social issues, they pretty much shut me down in a comment thread. I figured it was best for both of us to not go round-and-round publicly. And being they were constantly harping on politics and religion, I thought eliminating myself from the loop would be wise.

Jill June 17, 2011 at 9:14 AM

I’m glad you clarified that. That’s a fair enough reason to unfriend someone.

Sheltering children is absolutely necessary at times. When I went into private school, I badly needed the sheltering. I homeschool my children and probably won’t stop, but they attend enough secular activities to sully their minds if they so choose.

Katherine Coble June 17, 2011 at 8:23 AM

Great. Mike Duran is doing it AGAIN. He’s writing about a topic I either have a very vested interest in, or one that I’ve researched deeply and written about often, or both.

In this case the answer would be “both”.

Not to pimp (is that a CBA-approved word? Would it be if I were Francine Rivers?) my own blog, but this is some ground I’ve covered a great deal and I’m loathe to repeat myself and sound like some old crazy woman at a party who says the same thing over and over.

But I will summarise and say this:

The church is to blame for the loss of devotion of the younger generation. Why?

1. Lack of intellectual content and
2. Too much emphasis on being “Entertaining” versus being educating.

These two go together. As churches require larger attendance (see #3) they become loathe to do anything that will scare anybody off. So there are fewer Bible studies and a lot more clips from popular TV shows on the big screen in the sanctuary. A lot more basketball in the church-owned gym and Parent’s Day Outs and let-us-entertain-you jazz hands. Exegesis and hermeneutics are dead practices in most modern church assemblies.

We don’t serve meat, or even milk. We serve Pizza Parties.

3. Facilities and staff too large to pay for without compromising.

When the trend toward mega-churching and niche staffing really ramped up, that sealed the deal. All the money to build and heat and light these palaces and to pay the minister of children under 2 and the minister of people who watch reality TV had to come from somewhere. In most cases that meant either poaching from other, less flashy congregations in the community or bringing in non-Christians. It meant referring to parishoners as “giving units” (I do not lie; I’ve sat in on more than one committee meeting that used this term in more than one church). It meant that the primary duty of the church stopped being ministry–ironically–and started being the push for larger donations.

If you are a broke person just out of college, you are the exact opposite of what most current churches are looking for. You can’t put much in the offering plate and you are usually far more interested in being intellectually engaged than being pandered to by song-and-dance men. If you have already spent your formative years in one of the majority of congregations out there you’ve already heard most of everything they have to say. They aren’t saying anything new because they don’t want to scare you away.

Which is ironic, because most people of this age love to be intellectually engaged and treated like adults. Which brings us to problem #4

4. Youth Ministries
In a large number of churches which have youth ministries, there is a guy with a Peter Pan complex who wants to be viewed as “cool” and “hip”. He gets to be the Youth Pastor. Which is great for him but bad for the teens, most of whom WANT to be grown up, to move on to the next thing. So by the time they get to college, those kids who grew up in the church are programmed to think of “church” as a place where their maturing concerns were ignored in favour of mini-golf.

I actually think this is a fantastic time for the Church. I’ve noticed a lot more vibrance and engagement. But much of it, sadly, is happening separate from the local church congregation. Most of which is really a sort of sanctified country club. So the gates of hell aren’t prevailing against the living folk who comprise the Bride of Christ, but they might not have such a hard time challenging the traditional social gatherings that are mistakenly, confusingly also called “church”.

Mike Duran June 17, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Katherine, can you provide a couple of links to your posts on this subject? I especially like your point about the effect of the seeker-friendly / mega-church movement, part of which involved, of necessity, an abandonment of intellectual rigor. After all, reaching the broadest audience requires less demands, not more. If you’re interested, I broached that subject a while back in a post entitled Church Membership: The Higher the Bar, the Better the Body?

Katherine Coble June 17, 2011 at 10:01 AM

I wasnt sure about the link/spam policy here (i.e. How many links kicks a comment to the spambox) so i did a link roundup of sorts that now lives as a pingback to this post.

Jill June 17, 2011 at 9:21 AM

This is precisely why private Christian school was good for me, because I attended a pizza-party church. Finally, finally, I was forced into serious study of God’s word. I still think the burden of training should fall on parents, however, as they are microcosms of the church endowed w/ the responsibility to train their own children. But maybe parents want to be entertained, too, because they work all week and don’t want the extra burden. We’re a culture that wants entertainment. We have the attention spans of 3-year-olds. We are the Roman empire before its fall.

Renee Gadut June 17, 2011 at 9:36 AM

I agree with you Jill… the thought crossed my mind while reading through these responses… that we can apply the issue that the education system has in this country (more so in teh state of California) to the Church’s youth group educational system.

In high schools… a student is boastful, arrogant, ignorant and ill informed, a dangerous combination for a person about to become an adult. They do not want to learn, they have no respect for education and they KNOW that noone can force them to do anything.. where does this come from? The Home. The respect/desire for education and critical thinking needs to generate from the home first.
These same young people are the people who fill the youth rooms within the church. If highschool has become nothing but a glorified babysitting service… how can the youth be expected to see Chrurch as anything different?
The younger parents get, the more selfish they are and the less they want to be bothered… and its their children who suffer for it, and will ultimatly perpetuate the intelectual decline of this country as well as the spiritual decline of Christianity.

Katherine Coble June 17, 2011 at 10:06 AM

Jill,

If I had kids they’d be homeschooled. My church growing up was intellectually rigorous until the big split when I was 11. From about the time I was 14 until I left for college my spiritual education came from my Christian school and my parents.

I am grateful for both.

Carole McDonnell June 17, 2011 at 8:44 AM

All nations are secular because this world is ruled by the evil one…and all nations are not secular because God is in everything. Even if America hadn’t been secularized, the trouble is that the world is always with us. And counterfeit Christianity is always with us. A non-secular America would probably have fallen prey to falling away from God in some way. The Holy Roman Empire was neither. The non-secular America was also pretty full of sin…but in a legalistic sinful way.

But, as for the angry Youth Group kid who went to college… the parent should have prepared the kid for persecution and should have shown the child a living faith. A child who has seen Christian love in a church setting will never think Christians are hypocrites or stupid. As for secular teachings, the devil is subtle. No parent can keep up with all the subtlety being aimed at Christians in general. And no parent can totally know — unless they have the word of wisdom and knowledge– just what little worm the devil will use to destroy the vine or truth.

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 8:45 AM

Katherine, I’ll check out your blog. One thing I’ve noticed lately is the trend of young people finding spiritual meaning through service. At my church in Shreveport, Louisiana (www.brookwoodbaptist.com) there is an entire group of college age kids who have purchased a house, remodeled it, filled it with furniture and opened it for the homeless! This absolutely amazed me! What I see, even in my own kids (in their twenties) is this incredible desire to serve others! They are finding a connection with God through service. This group of kids (I call them kids even though they are about 25) just planned a trip to Haiti to carry a group of writers, journalists, and photographers to entice them to engage in telling the story of the Haitians. So, there is hope for the next generation. I just think we should be emphasizing apologetics to this generation. My generation is done. I try to teach apologetics in my church and in my area to adults and they want to learn, but they just don’t get the necessity of it. For some of them, it is a curiosity only. I think by the time they reach their age, they have settled on a worldview and don’t see an incentive to change. Our hope is in our kids! Let’s encourage them and help them think critically.

Katherine Coble June 17, 2011 at 10:12 AM

Service, apologetics, exegesis and true worship are what seems to be energising the Body around these parts. (Myadopted home of Nashville).

We’ve been able to draw more non-traditional worshippers (singles, childless couples, college-aged) by emphasising missional, service directives starting with the local community. It gives me hope.

Ironically, the church of which I am a member tried a bridge-building, service oriented program that died on the vine. I wont leave the church because i made a commitment to it, but I have been saddened by the lack of institutional devotion to missional service. Not that that stops me from doing it on my own as much as possible.

Kat Heckenbach June 17, 2011 at 8:48 AM

I have a degree in Biology from a secular university. Oddly, being bombarded with “evolution, evolution, evolution–we can prove God doesn’t exist” did not shatter my faith. It brought it back.

I was raised Christian, and strayed because of experiences at CHURCH. Kids who were mean, hypocrisy, etc. But I had FAMILY that was strong in their faith and led me by example. Still, I pulled out of church the first chance I got, and began living a rather unChristian lifestyle. I was angry at a lot of things, and happened to go to a school where drugs were rampant.

But when I got my head together and went to college (three years after graduating high school), I decided to major in science. The problem was that nothing made sense–all the evolutionary stuff seemed contrived to fit an idea that didn’t really have enough to back it up. My religious beliefs resurfaced, stronger than ever. I now homeschool, making sure my kids will have the scientific material to back up their beliefs.

I do think it is BOTH the church and public school system these days. When I was a kid, teachers didn’t have to hide their religious views. We could pray in class. All that, even as we were taught dinosaurs lived millions of years before man.

But now, kids are told from a very young age that religion has no place in the real world, and that secular ideas rule. Christianity has become a sign of anti-intellectualism. A friend of mine once said, “Tell people you’re a Christian, and add to that you’re from the south, and in their eyes your IQ will have just dropped ten points.”

But churches aren’t doing anything to equip kids either. They teach the truth of the Bible, but they don’t show how it can argue against secular ideas. And too many churches have a facade that kids see through–like my old church did.

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 9:04 AM

Kat
What amazes me is how important theism was to the origin of modern science. Kenneth Samples, theologian for Reasons to Believe, talks about how modern science was “still born” in cultures that were not theistic. Our worldview was so important to modern science. But, in studying the naturalistic paradigm I am convinced that:

1 — The evidence for God is overwhelming
2 — The scriptures do fit the record of nature
3– Cosmology is more powerful in its evidence for God than the “soft” sciences
4 — There are huge problems with the naturalistic worldview
5 — Finally, when confronted with the evidence, naturalists “choose” to accept the evolutionary, naturalistic worldview because of personal reasons. I love this quote from the evolutionary biologist George Waldt:

“When it comes to the origin of life there are only two possibilities: Creation or spontaneous generation. There is no third way. Spontaneous generation was disproved one hundred years ago, but that leads us to only one other conclusion, that of supernatural creation. We cannot accept that on philosophical grounds; therefore, we choose to believe the impossible: That life arose spontaneously by chance!” — George Waldt

I bet you’ve never seen this in any modern article on naturalism or quoted in the college class room!

Kat Heckenbach June 17, 2011 at 9:14 AM

Bruce, I agree with you 100%. And as a science geek, I know there is a LOT of stuff secular scientists gloss over. Facts they choose to ignore, and ideas that they talk circles around because they really have no evidence. It really is a choice as to what you believe. And the reason secular scientist fight so hard to keep Creationism out of the classrooms is that if kids are given a chance to see both “theories” in equal light, there is too high a chance that those kids will see how Creationism works better. Secular science is actually a religion of its own.

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 9:20 AM

You are so right! I’ve always maintained that naturalism IS a religion and it is becoming our national religion. And, if I am not mistaken, establishing a national religion is forbidden by the constitution!

Renee Gadut June 17, 2011 at 10:13 AM

I will never understand for the life of me, why Religion and Science cant get over their stubborn pride and arrogance and join forces… of course science and evolution is real… but what powers these things?? Of course there are miracles and oddities in the world that science can not explain.. why not choose faith?

Cant we all just get along?? 😉

Carole McDonnell June 17, 2011 at 9:13 AM

The important thing is this: In the long run, secularization doesn’t matter. All Secularization does is tells us that God doesn’t exist or God doesn’t matter or that God cares only about certain things because He is involved in only one aspect or part of the world. None of these are important in the long run if one is serving the right God wrongly or if one is serving the wrong God. Islamic countries aren’t secular…yet is that better for Christians. India has many gods and is also secular…yet is that better for Christians.

Apologetics is tough. One can blame parents but can all Christian parents battle Mormonism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Evolution, Progressivism? Those are the enemies of Christianity as well. More and more I think white evangelicals need to open their eyes. They see enemies and spiritual problems through the lens of an old and utterly false paradigm. It’s a bit like the “will evangelical Christians vote for X?” That old wineskin assumes all evangelical Christians are white but black and hispanic evangelicals have always voted differently from their white counterparts. So the problem of whether it’s the churches or academia that is causing the possible apostasy is not being framed properly.

The falling away of Middle Class Evangelical kids (mostly white but not always) might be rooted in academia or with the parents. Or it might be something else middle class evangelicals might not have considered inside their frame.

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 9:26 AM

I think you’ve hit on a valid point. I think apologetics carries with it a certain gravitas; a certain label. I like to redefine the process as “pre-evangelism”: being able to carry out a rational conversation with those who truly question the existence of our theistic worldview. My friends who are apologists can get into all kinds of deep, academic discussions and I sit there amazed that they can’t carry on a decent discussion with someone who is not “trained” in apologetics like my wife. She has years of experience with Bible Study Fellowship and knows the Bible so much better than I do. So, I think we can let the label or the concept “apologetics” get in the way of sound Bible study and knowledge of doctrine. The problem is how to engage our kids in that kind of study? How do you stimulate the Middle Class Evangelical Kids to have a desire to go deeper into scripture and to develop a relationship with God in a culture that has so many competing ideas and enticements?

Johne Cook June 17, 2011 at 9:24 AM

I just attended a week-long conference conducted by the Great Commission Churches (a loose alliance of Bible-based community churches) that grappled with this very issue. The theme was ‘Reaching the Next Generation,’ and the statistics they shared were staggering.

“Today, we are living in a time of grave consequences. One study showed that the percentage of Bible-based believers has decreased with each generation:

Builders (born 1927-1945): 65% Bible-based believers
Boomers (born 1946-1964): 35% Bible-based believers
Busters (born 1965-1983): 16% Bible-based believers
Millennials (born 1984 or later): 4% Bible-based believers

We are living to see, in many ways, the death of Christianity in the United States. As evangelicals in America, we are losing the battle of passing on a meaningful, authentic, committed faith to the next generation.

In Psalm 78: 1-8, we discover that God has a great passion and desire for His people to pass on the faith to the next generation of children…and not just our own, but to those lost around us in our nations and world. In fact, He commands us to do so.”

Mike, they agreed with you. The speakers suggested that fathers should be disciplining their own kids, and aren’t. They said that fathers are uniquely charged with the spiritual welfare of their kids, and have abdicated that charge. I’m guilty of that in my home, and teenage son considers himself an Agnostic. I’ve written about this on Katherine Coble’s blog: http://mycropht.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/church-clip-show/

The GCC will shortly have free podcasts for all the sessions I attended. I highly recommend checking them out. I found them to be short on ‘rah rah’ fluff and long on hard statistics, Biblical comparison, and practical application.

Johne Cook June 17, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Ack! Do me a favor and mentally substitute ‘disciplining’ for ‘disciplining’. Thanks. That one word changes everything in that sentence. (Sheesh.)

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 9:29 AM

Johne
I’m reading an excellent book, “The iY Generation” and it applies to Millennials and it is sobering and frightening what our children are dealing with in today’s culture!

Renee Gadut June 17, 2011 at 9:28 AM

Starting out early this morning eh, Mike? 🙂

Being that I am in that exact category (one of your youth, who has ventured out into the world, gone to college, and did that annoying thing that most young people do: Grew a personality) Id love to give some feedback from my point of view…
For those reading along, I am a 27 year old, Junior College graduate and a former attendee of the church that Mike pastored (I dont want to think about how long ago it was haha). Mike was actually the pastor who baptized me at the tender age of 11 years.

The church’s spiritual responsibility to the youth involved in its community needs to be split into two different categories: The Age of Innocence and The Age of Understanding. I say NEEDS to, because even if a church THINKS it is catering to their youth as they grow older… they are catering to the WANTS of the youth, not their spiritual and intellectual NEEDS.
“Sunday School” with its stories, memory verses, prayer times and ‘sing-songy’ worship is perfect for the “Age of Innocence”. It builds the necessary foundation in Christianity that paves the way for the harder life-lessons to come, and the actual application of faith and the real meaning behind those lessons.
Most Christian churches do just fine for the children in the early years… its when the children turn into teenagers and the outside world starts pressing in that the Church and its Youth leaders need to step up it’s game. Parents can only do so much… unless you lock your child in the closet 24 hours a day.. they are being exposed to a secular world.

Katherine was very right in her description of youth leaders trying to act too young and focus more on entertainment and acceptance than the real life issues that crop up in a teen’s life as they mature within the church. From personal experience, from the age of 14 to the age of 18, I saw my church go through 5 or 6 different youth pastors, most of which were too young and clique-ish or too insecure in their own daily walk’s to be directing young minds on the verge of chaos. These chaotic years are what I mean by “the age of understanding”…honestly the most important for a young adult, and the time when the church fails the hardest.

Young minds have a very hard time holding onto their faith when they enter a secular college setting because they CRAVE knowledge in the form of FACTS. We NEED to know why.

This fallen world we live in throws a lot of curve balls and dishes out intensely hard knocks. To survive the real world with your faith intact takes incredible strength and willpower, but to a young person it feels like a blind faith. They want factual answerers… when a freshman in college goes to his pastor, his youth pastor, his parents with problems and questions.. and is met with a metaphorical scripture and a “why don’t you just pray about it” it leaves them even more confused than before… and who has a detailed answer that they can hold onto? The professors…the professors who’s sole passion in life is persuading their students to follow their way of thinking.
If the church could, as Bruce said, find a way to incorporate some academic bases in its teachings for youth, they would find the youth much more receptive than they think.

I have learned a great deal on my time in this big ol’ world (as short a time as 27 years may be to some). I have an open mind and an open heart… I have gone to church and I have gone to college… I have walked with God and I have walked in the world… I may not have all that childs faith in Christianity that I once had, but like Bruce said … the faith I have cultured and groomed since my childhood at times was the ONLY thing keeping me from breaking down and losing not only myself, but my literal life. The helmet and the armor may be notched, dented and slightly misshapen… but it’s still there.

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 9:35 AM

Renee

Thank you for your fresh and real reply. My son has very similar stories to tell. And for anyone who wants to help their youth pastor, Alex Macfarland has a brand new book out called “10 Questions Every Christian Must Answer: Thoughtful Responses to Strength Your Faith” and it is EXCELLENT and to give you a hint to the flavor of the book, one chapter is entitled “The Bible Says, I Believe it? Really?”

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 9:36 AM

“The Bible Says It, I Believe it? Really?” Left out the “it”.

Renee Gadut June 17, 2011 at 10:07 AM

Thank you so much for the book suggestion! I will definitely try and pick it up.
If that chapter title is any indication of the contents of the book I will gladly read it and most likely quote it at my father! HaHa.

That’s actually one of the bigger issues i had with my own faith as a teenager growing up in a Christian home. My father is a very “That’s what the Bible says so thats just IT” There was no debate, no metaphors… no “well what if THIS is what they were trying to say” Just Black, White, and Red.

I’ve always been of the opinion that the Bible was written to cater to a persons needs depending on their situation in life at the time… every 5 years you could re read a chapter in the Bible and it can have different meanings for you every time.. as it SHOULD be, in my opinion.. life experiences and the trials they bring change our thoughts and perspectives… if the human mind is so moldable, why cant most grasp the concept of The Word molding to us in a time of need?

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 12:02 PM

My parents were like that, too. Until the Living Bible first came out way back in the 1970’s. My mother, bless her soul, was teaching a college and career class in the midst of the hippy era. She had about 30 college kids coming because she agreed to use the Living Bible, while the deacons were having cows (sacred, holy hamburger) that we weren’t using King James (another issue I hope we don’t get into today!). When my mother passed away in 2004, almost all of those kids, now adults, were at her funeral and some of them she had not seen since they were in college. She made a difference in their lives because she brought the Bible to life. When we say things like “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that’s it” aren’t we saying that the Bible no longer applies to changing life situations? You just made the wonderful point that the Bible speaks to us at EVERY stage in our lives. It should! It is not static. It is the LIVING, BREATHING, WORD of GOD. When I open the Bible, God is speaking to ME! So, yes, the message never changes, the principles do not change, but the WAY in which we COMMUNICATE the truth of the Bible must change with changes in our society or, guess what? We lose our kids!

Mike Duran June 17, 2011 at 11:07 AM

27 years old? My, you ARE old, Renee!

Seriously, it’s great to hear from you and I appreciate your testimonial here. I especially like your suggestion about a church incorporating a more academic approach to its youth. Why is it we assume teenagers won’t be receptive to something more challenging and rigorous? Anyway, it’s encouraging to know at least one former youth group student is making their way.

Renee Gadut June 17, 2011 at 11:33 AM

=D lol
I knew someone would scoff. I know I still have a long way to go… but Life Experience counts for more than numerical digits in most cases.
Slow and steady wins the race… I will never stop learning new things, applying my faith, or trying to better myself as a person, both personally and professionally.

Dave Jacobs June 17, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Many recent studies have revealed that college students, rather then walking away from their faith have simply walked away from church. And the reason for this is not a loss of faith or even a dislike of church but that the opportunities for community with fellow students is a pull hard to resist. Having left home they fall out of the habit of going to church. You typically find that the same students who grow up, get married, and have children will return to church.

Renee Gadut June 17, 2011 at 9:58 AM

Also Mike.. in response to your initial paragraph…
Many people do not know how to show their point of view on loaded topics as religion, current events or political issues without getting overly passionate and angry.

In a recent Facebook post I made… I stated that I had 600 friends at the time… I thought “that cant be right” and went to delete a few…and realized that I do infact, know and communicate often with ALL those people (from ALL and i do mean ALL walks of life). I am not a writter or anyone of intellectual/physical prowess…I’m simply a very Social person with a strong love for people and communication.
When topics come up in the media that I feel strongly about, I post about them and more often than not, debates ensue… and most of the time, I have to moderate the debate because people get offensive/offended and the subject gets lost.
One of my favorite things in life is a good healthy debate… but many people do not understand or do not care about the etiquette or “rules of engadgment” of intellectual debate. The BIGGEST mistake people can make in a debate is to make it PERSONAL. How can someone hear what you have to say, the meat and potatoes of the point you are trying to get across…if youve offended them? Passion is a wonderful thing… but in order to be a persuasive speaker and be heard, a person needs to be able to LISTEN also, and understand BOTH sides of an argument. Some people get carried away in discussion and forget that other people have thoughts and feelings too.. and just because they may differ from our own.. it doesnt mean they are any less important or valid.

Katherine Coble June 17, 2011 at 10:35 AM

Renee, you are exactly right. Funnily enough one of the biggest problems we’ve got right now is that much of our individual debate is taking place in written media. Facebook, blog comments, web fora.

The problem is that there is a giant gaping hole in many people’s reading comprehension ability. So while listening is crucial, there are a lot of people who are unable to “listen” to written debate very well.

Still and all, I agree with you entirely.

Renee Gadut June 17, 2011 at 11:19 AM

The written media front also comes with another evil, that of unaccountability. A keyboard gives a lot of people this sort of KeyBoard Commando persona… I know you all have read up on and probably encountered what the media (and they themselves) have dubbed “Internet Trolls”. A person can sit behind their computer and spew condescending and negative ideals and opinions, most of which they would never have the courage to speak outloud or face to face.

Katherine Coble June 17, 2011 at 1:34 PM

Oh dear. Yes, I’m familiar with trolls, having been part of the group (alt.folklore.urban) that is often credited with coining the term back in 1990. You make me feel old. Please dont bring up Kibo, two-fifty, september or oldhats lest you make me check myself into a home.

In all seriousness, this is why I always now use my own name or my equally-visable nom de hack “mycropht” when commenting on anything. I insist on accountability for myself. I also take far less seriously the opinions of someone who wont offer the same courtesy.

Katherine Coble June 17, 2011 at 10:31 AM

One of my friends raised a good point, and one that I should have addressed if I’d not been so carried away by beating the familiar drum of What Have We Done Wrong?.

I think that framing the question with the secular world, particularly the secular university, as Other is treading on some very rotten ice. Because yes, there is a problem. As I’ve said in another conversation, though, I always think it’s better to look within oneself for the cause and the change.

Because when we start finding an Other, positioning the Other as Enemy and then decrying Other…we turn from a spirit of boldness to a spirit of fear. We give power, deserved or not, to that we’ve characterised as Enemy.

I think there is much good to be taken from the secular university, from learning outside the faith. Given that I tend to believe that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” I like to find worth in all things. Every thing needs to be sifted, to be discerned. Including the secular intellect.

I think we can fix the problem of church attendence by looking at ourselves as a church and looking to ourselves for the solution. I think we can and should do that without trying to frame something outside the church as a destructive enemy.

Jessica Thomas June 17, 2011 at 10:34 AM

Oh wow, I can’t even read through all the responses. As a mother of two small boys, I’m getting a nervous knot in my gut…

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Jessica
Don’t get too upset. The good news is that I see our younger generation responding to God’s moving and stepping up to the plate in a missional sort of way. I was once so worried about the future, but God is still in control and by the time your little ones reach youth stage, the training will be there; the church will have adapted to meet this challenge and your sons will become great leaders in God’s church!

Jessica Thomas June 17, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Ahh. Thanks for the encouragement. Eeks, the responsibility…

xdpaul June 17, 2011 at 10:51 AM

Here I come with the only correct viewpoint! Thank me later.

What the heck are Christians sending their children to college for in the first place?

Unless the child, upon leaving high school wishes to take part in one of the cloistered professions (teaching, medicine, law) or anything else that currently certifies to work through the college system, there is no measurable advantage to going to college.

Sure, it serves as sort of “green card” for some industries, but at all times, and especially during a depression, going into $40,000+ dollars in interest bearing debt is, plain and simple, terrible stewardship.

And it isn’t even that much of green card: a business degree, for example, doesn’t indicate that the graduate has any communications, strategic or logic skills, and probably not that much math. When I get a stack of resumes, business degree graduates (without full-time work experience) go below the high school grads with full-time work experience.

Don’t misread this: there are plenty of smart and capable future workers taking all sorts of studies in college, but the curriculum (non-certificate) itself does not filter out any noise, and, in fact creates some.

But it is terrible, terrible stewardship, and a pretty bad lifelong economic choice, to send your child fresh into the workforce saddled with the potential of hundreds of thousands of dollars of early debt.

Tuition has inflated 707% over the last 30 years. If milk or gas had done that, we’d be apoplectic, and seek alternatives.

Yet Christians are just as prone to worship at the ever bloating belly of debt-fueled “higher” education as the pagan. That’s the real problem.

Bypass college, except in those unfortunate instances where 11 years of endurance-based “training” are a requirement for the career. Maybe if tuition ever returns to planet earth, it might be worth revisiting the university system.

Katherine Coble June 17, 2011 at 12:37 PM

We share a similar position on college. ::prepares to duck::

I just try not to bring it up that often around people who don’t know me VERY well because they assume I hold said position because of my own refusal to complete a degree.

Those who know me well know that I’m a strong autodidact and I’m also the only one of my four siblings who is debt-free (except for mortgage.)

All my college buddies are now working in professions they chose at 17-18, when they were different people. They are stuck in said professions (law and teaching, mostly) that they don’t like because they have to pay for the education they got that enabled them to be in those professions.

It’s a sad irony.

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 1:09 PM

It is a shame that the college system of the last twenty years has evolved (pardon that word!) into a career training institution. In the past couple of centuries the university (begun by the church) taught theology, art, music, literature, philosophy and trained a person to live a full life, not just find a career. Try finding a college like that today!

Bruce Hennigan June 17, 2011 at 1:09 PM

I meant last century, not twenty years!

Katherine Coble June 17, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Weeeellll…they exist all over. That’s pretty much the mandate of any liberal-arts institution. But when WWII was winding down and the GI Bill made college a real possibility for folks who had once consdiered out of the question, a college degree became from 1950-1970 a form of networking and an entree into white collar professions. The higher number of attendees, paid for by uncle sam, caused colleges to explode in size and class offerings. That commercialised academia bubble may have righted itself if not for the extended draft during the Viet Nam war and the fact that many began pursuing not only bachelor’s degrees but graduate studies as well. Tha gave our workforce from 1970-1985 a clear pro-degree biad and instilled in much of my generation the belief in college as a fundamental next step in education.

Then, in the mid-80s, with the draft ended and fewer GIs using federal money for college…tuitions began to skyrocket. Student loans were availabke and, much like the housing bubble that just burst, were taken out in massive quantities. I was right there on the cusp of the change. When I began planning for college in earnest my school’s tuition was X. Four years later when I finally matriculated it had doubled. I spent in two years what I had planned to spend on four years of BA studies and three years of law school.

I also played poker professionally from the time I was 19, and I knew when the ante was too large for the table. So I walked away. Before leaving my management job with a disability I made more than my siblings who had advanced degrees. All of that is to say that around the time that tuition was going crazy through the roof the liberal arts schools began to perpetrate the “you’ll getabetter job” myth. Because who wants to pay a quarter of a million dollars to sound fascinating at parties?

Jessica Thomas June 17, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Well, see, when you study things like art, music, literature, and philosphy in college, you graduate to a $6 an hour job. How’s that for a slap in the face. But I found my way and I don’t regret it.

Jessica Thomas June 17, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Oh dear, I very much disagree. Not going to college is setting our kids up for too difficult a road. Yes, the paradigm needs to shift so that kids work their way through college rather than accruing so much debt, but goodness no, they need that stamp.

College helped lead me to God, because I realized how spiritually bankrupt the sole quest for knowledge really is. Yes, we need knowledge but it’s not an end in itself and never make us equal to or above God. Besides that, my college studies substantially increased my critical thinking skills.

On another note, to be perfectly honest, I’m somewhat afraid for my son to grow up going to church. Like many of you have said, it seems many of my peers who grew up in church have gone away from it. And I remember, at the time the church going kids seemed simple-minded to me, not as able to think critically. Of course, it may have just been my cynical bias.

I definitely came to Jesus though logic. At the time, I was very depressed and my emotions were dead, so I was not in any position to be swept away by fluff.

xdpaul June 17, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Really? How is advising them from going into $40,000+ in debt setting them up for a difficult road? They can either start at $10/hr. after amassing that debt, or $8/hr. out of high school.

At what point would it become ridiculous for college to be an option? $100,000? $200,000? A million? There certainly must be some point at which it isn’t rational. I say it is past that point.

It’s a difficult road, either way, but only one of them doesn’t send them to neo-debtor’s prison with no chance of parole.

$40,000+ is far too steep a price to pay for “enrichment” that can be far more rapidly and cheaply accessed through books and other forms of natural education.

There are some exceptions: focused institutions that work to provide a measurable peer environment of achievement and study, but these are rare.

The only way to remove the inflation addiction that has spiralled out of control is for people to stop feeding the monster by indebting themselves.

Between tuition inflation and metriculation addiction, college is a place where a smart person can learn something, if lucky, but can’t prove it against their peers. So they pay a lot of money to prove nothing.

It is a fair “easier road” to join the workforce and prove worth, than delay the inevitable, get substandard instruction (see also grade inflation and deconstructionist curricula), rack up debt only to stand in the unemployment line at the end of it.

If you can get a green card/diploma (because that is all it is: anyone interested in education, whether in college or out, educates himself) without going into debt, that’s a bonus, a further bonus if it is a “fun” time.

But it paves an easy road only in the way that good intentions do: one that winds gradually to hell.

Jill June 17, 2011 at 3:57 PM

Really? I loved college. I loved learning. And the debt was well worth it, not to mention manageable, because I attended a state college. I also know a fair amount of people who have worked their way through college, both undergrad and grad school. The more education my husband gets in his industry, the more he is worth, and the more hireable he is. It all depends on what you want, I guess. And I also have a feeling this is a completely different debate than the one originally proposed. But, hey, I’m willing to bite. Colleges are secular AND expensive. Neither of those terms is an automatic turnoff for me.

Grade inflation? That’s relative. Private schools are worse than public, as far as that goes, but GPAs become weighted and no longer max out at 4.0. So 3.0 doesn’t mean what it used to, and 4.0 isn’t perfection. Kind of like monetary inflation. Deconstructionist curricula? Define your terms. What does this mean to you? That might tie this argument into a relevant part of this discussion, and I can feel less guilty arguing something off-topic. 😉

Jessica Thomas June 17, 2011 at 8:27 PM

I stand by my statement. The job I currently have requires a college degree, it pays well, and it’s much much much easier on me, and more full-filling than any job I’d have gotten without a degree. I owe huge gratitude to my Dad for working hard to pay my way through college. Now I’m working hard to try and set myself up so I can help my boys through. It’s rough, yeah, but, you do what you gotta.

Katherine Coble June 18, 2011 at 12:44 PM

I know that if I did have a college degree there would have been jobs I could’ve gotten that I might have enjoyed more than the jobs I’ve ended up doing.

I loved college; I still love learning.

I just knew that my parents had three other kids after me and there was no way they could pay for college for all of us. I also knew that I couldn’t handle the debt myself. So I made the choice I made after much analysing and praying.

xdpaul June 18, 2011 at 6:36 PM

And you don’t gotta go to college, unless you can do it with minimal debt.

I’m assuming you went to college when (or before) I did. That is, years ago, when tuition was creeping past the rate of inflation, but not by the time it had exploded 707% driven by debt.

If milk had increased that much, it would cost $15 today.

So, if it costs more, it should deliver more. But it doesn’t. It delivers measurably less. This isn’t about liking college or not: I liked college a lot, grad school, too, but not enough to take on crippling debt! It certainly didn’t position me for any better career than I currently have: it opened some doors, it closed others.

But going to a general college because it is enriching or fulfilling and provides a green card is silly: the army does that, too, and they pay you!

There is no reason, other than the fact that colleges have had easy access to dumb kids and taxpayer funded debt, why tuition has skyrocketed to inflated levels.

If you insist on sending your kids to college in an economy far different than the one you entered, then, by all that is holy, please work with them, hard, to do it without debt.

Mechanics and plumbers are going to be in higher demand (and higher pay) during a maintenance economy (depression) than will indebted bankers and office drones.

College provides the illusion of education: those who have gotten the most out of college are those who have put the most in. Why is it that they pay the same freight as the peers who devalue the degree because they can graduate without having learned a thing?

You’ve missed the boat if you think I think college is worthless. It is just artificially overpriced.

Sending your kid to college, whatever the cost, is akin to paying the MSRP on a new car, by an order of magnitude.

How to do that? Barring full-ride scholarships (i.e. kid is an athlete – the academic full-rides are a much smaller lottery) go to community college for two years, and pay as you go. Then transfer to a university, and scrape after every $250 grant and minor scholarship you can. Work 20 hours a week – live on campus: yes, rent in the dorm is higher than renting a single room with a roommate off-campus, but as soon as a kid starts looking off campus, he’s thinking of his own room, and it is difficult for most kids to manage a household, a part time job, and school – so dorm life is the one luxury that should be pursued.

Suicide rates for kids with student loans are higher than the average population by the time they turn 28 or so. There’s a reason for this: they are managing a growing sunk cost with no hope of resolving it, and nothing other than a green card to show for it.

Get the green card some other way.

Like this:

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20110530/breaking/110539995

Jessica Thomas June 19, 2011 at 10:36 AM

Not arguing about the over-inflated cost or inflation. It was tough when I graduated and the economy was “good”. (Clinton era) And I’m all for paying as you go. It’s tough no matter how you look at it, or how you go about trying to establish your place in this world. Takes a lot of hard work, a lot. No doubt. Could be much worse though.

Mark June 17, 2011 at 11:03 AM

This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I absolutely believe that the church has fallen down on the job of giving the next generation a solid foundation on which to stand. And if their intellectual knowledge is lacking, is it any wonder that they leave Christianity when they hear intellectual arguements against it?

I was home schooled through 10th grade and then went to a public high school and public community college. I didn’t have all the answers to arguements I heard against Christianity, but I knew enough to go home and try to find the answers because there must be some. Even if we can train kids to think things through and know to dig for answers instead of accepting any well reasoned arguement, we will have done better than we appear to be doing today.

Now this isn’t to say that youth group shouldn’t be fun. Having been on youth staff for years, I am certain that it takes the mini-golf and the goofy games to help build relationships. But when the time comes for teaching, make it deep and doctrinally sound. Both are important for a healthy youth group.

violet June 17, 2011 at 11:07 AM

Another factor is TV. During those 18 years of childhood while we’re busy parenting and propping up religious affiliation, we’re also setting our kids in front of the TV multi hours a day. There they’re being indoctrinated on all fronts by a largely leftwing media and entertainment system. Check out Ben Shapiro’s book ‘Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV ‘- Broadside books – March 2011.

Tim George June 17, 2011 at 11:29 AM

As a father and grandfather I neither blame institutions of higher learning nor churches. The blame fully lies at the feet of parents who abdicate their God-given role as chief educators of their children. This does not mean I advocate home schooling only. Rather, I am talking about parents taking an active and daily role in teaching their children how to think. Not what to think but how to think. I taught college age learners in Bible study for years and now lead young adults. More often than not, they want to know how to think but have never been taught how because that takes time and patience, both which most of us seem to think we are have too little to offer.

Katherine Coble June 17, 2011 at 12:41 PM

But in a way isn’t this also the church? Because assuming these parents are also attendees at a church I think they have some say in the programs that are offered to their children.

That may have only been how my particular church worked, of course. But I think parents who plop their children in a whackyfunhappytime Sunday school are as negligent as those who plop them in front of a TV. But in a way…even worse, because a parent can’t program a TV station but they can have a large hand in programming a children’s Christian Education department at their church.

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