I am so pleased to learn that Focus on the Family is freaking out a little bit.
The trend is known as the “Great Evacuation,” and the statistics are startling to youth ministers.
Studies have shown at least 50 percent — and possibly as much as 85 percent — of kids involved in church groups will abandon their faith during their first year in college.
The best part of this statistic is that college professors and administrators don’t even try to divorce students from religion — despite my evil reputation, I don’t say a word about religion in any of my classes. All we do is open students’ eyes and expose them to a world of the mind where they are free to question and doubt … and presto, many of them suddenly realize that they can disagree with those obnoxious religious authorities back home.
Well, and to be perfectly fair, they also discover friends and parties and beer and sex. Those are pretty persuasive, too. It’s not an entirely intellectual voyage of discovery.
In an attempt to reverse those numbers, Focus on the Family on Saturday hosted “The Big Dig,” a conference aimed at teens and youth leaders. The goal was not just to celebrate participants’ Christian faith but also to give them the tools to defend their beliefs against questions they will face.
Such apologetics conferences fly in the face of a long-held belief that the way to minister to teens is to wow them with hipness, said Alex McFarland, organizer of the event. But, as 1,600 kids and leaders from as far as Jamaica learned historical evidence of Jesus and defense of the Bible, he said this more academic method seemed to be working.
This is absolutely wonderful. Teach them to value academic methods, and I suspect they’ll be even more vulnerable to academic criticism when they get into college. FoF isn’t inoculating these students against argument, they’re punching little holes in their close-mindedness.