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There are droves of youth leaving the church today. Those who grew up leaning on their parent’s faith for sustenance and reliability are now questioning everything they’ve been taught. Data from the SBC shows us how dire the situation is. Nearly 90% of their youth are leaving the church after their freshman year in college. (1)

What are we to do about this hemorrhage of students abandoning ship? Why are they leaving? How can we give them a genuine faith worth fighting for and defending? These are questions the church has been ill-equipped to answer for some years now.

With the resurgence of Apologetics, these trends are slowly being reversed but it’s going to take some time to see gain where we now see a loss. That’s why in my opinion, the need for Apologetics is greater now than it’s ever been. I’m thankful for resources that are helping to equip pastors, parents, youth, and even children in defending the Christian worldview.

The Thinking Series does just that in seeking to engage those who are asking crucial questions at the crossroads of their faith and what they see and experience in the culture around them. Created by the founder and director of Apologetics Canada, Andy Steiger has given us a fantastic small group curriculum to engage those who get lost in the shuffle.

The series answers the top five questions the culture is asking today (explored below) but it does more than that. It gives us a biblical view of how we as the body of God can come alongside those questioning the faith and walk down the road with them as they struggle to find answers. We start investigating those questions by going on an adventure.

01 | What is the Meaning of Life?

At some point in our life, we’ve all wondered what is the point of it all. Do we have any purpose? What is it? How can we find it? Exhausted in our searching we know there has to be more than what we’re doing. In Colorado some of us scale as many 14rs as possible. We get to the next peak only to find that moment of joy we experience is soon gone and we’ve headed down the mountain again.

C.S. Lewis in Surprised by Joy relays a story in which he finds this meaning but it eludes him almost instantly. “It is difficult to find words strong enough for the sensation which came over me….It was a sensation, of course, of desire; but a desire for what?….before I knew what I desired, the desire itself was gone, the whole glimpse withdrawn, the world turned commonplace again, or only stirred by a longing for the longing that had just ceased.”

He tells us that in comparison to anything else that had ever happened to him, this moment had been the most significant. Many of our youth have had moments like this. They are restless. We need to come alongside them and let them know they are made in the image of a creative God who has stooped down to speak to them in Christ. They are made in the image of the Creator of the very Cosmos they stare into every night.

02 | Does God Exist?

We begin session 2, Does God Exist, with a young lady who is leaving home in search of something. She’s not quite sure what she’s looking for or what she’ll find. She cries out, “God if you would just show yourself to me then I would know for sure that you are real.” She has grown up on borrowed faith. She has doubts that have never been answered and she’s not sure what to believe anymore.

This is the current state of those teens sitting in churches across the world. We must provide a safe space for them to douth. We should encourage them to question those things they have been taught. At the same time, however, we must provide a space for them to know what the Scriptures say. We need to speak truth into their lives and challenge the assumptions they’ve heard from all the counterfeit worldviews around them.

We can do this through various arguments, the Kalam Cosmological argument, the Teleological argument and others, but we must do this in the context of a relationship. We can’t back up the dump truck and unload all of our weighty arguments onto them all at once. They need to trust us and we need to guard that trust with humility and vulnerability.

03 | Do All Religions Lead to God?

Here we come to my favorite session. Here we see the elephant in the room. Blind men all feeling different pieces of the elephant and relaying back to us, the unassuming onlookers, what God is like to them. Since the elephant is real their perceptions of God must be true, right?

So what happens if the elephant were to speak out? We don’t learn about Christianity by merely feeling God. Christians stand on a God who speaks to us in a perfect revelation of his nature and character. It would be impossible to know God unless he had done so.

As famous apologist Francis Schaeffer put it, “He is There and He is Not Silent.”When God speaks everything changes. He alone can give us a standard by which to measure all other religious claims. The parable of the elephant does not even consider this point while blindly groping for truth. (2)

Our youth don’t have to be afraid to explore other religions and worldviews. In fact, it’s important for them to see how various truth claims end up being bankrupt when you peel back the facade. There may be a little bit of truth mixed in with the lie and we must be ready to guide our students through uncovering those lies.

04 | Why is There Evil?

This is for me, the most challenging of all questions to answer. I’m not bothered by claims that the NT is inconsistent or miscopied or even that in places it seems to contradict itself. I’m not bothered by moral arguments or big bang cosmology. What does unsettle me is the problem of evil and suffering.

It seems that I’m not alone. How can a good God allow suffering to exist when he claims to be good? Why doesn’t he do something? Both very important questions. While this session can be a great intro to a lifetime of learning, it’s not meant to be a final answer to the subject. Andy makes no promise to solve all the questions you have regarding why there a child dies prematurely or why moms and dads die of cancer.

It is in this session that questions of Free Will are raised. I won’t pretend that I have all the answers, nor does Andy do so. It’s a mystery how God can be sovereign and at the same time give his people a free will. I don’t understand and that’s alright.

It is in this context, that of pain and suffering, a relationship is vital. Even as we hurt we must be willing to walk with our friends, family, and neighbors with grace. Through many tears and silent nights, we must be willing to be a consistent presence for those who hurt. The Holy Spirit can work mightily through us as we continue to show grace and understanding during dark days.

05 | Is There Life After Death?

This session begins with two young men playing basketball, as they’ve always done. Everything is joking and play until one of them admits to the other, “I’m sick. The doctor has given me six months. A year at best.” What are we to do when the world comes crashing down around us?

For most of our lives, Death stands aloof from us. We see it out there but it’s not happening today. We are invincible. We jump off mountains, push the limits, work ourselves to death in order to create a comfortable life for us and our children. What happens though, when Death knocks at your door and you come face to face with that gruesome reality?

As Christians, we know we have a Savior who has come face to face with Death itself and has overcome it. That doesn’t always make the reality of dying any easier to swallow. We must be willing and prepared to present the gospel in these dire times. People need hope and that hope is only found in Christ. We must show them that their lives have meaning and purpose which is found in a person. A person who took the victory from death by dying on a cross and rising three days later.

Where do we go from here?

Resources like The Thinking Series are crucial for orienting our students in the right direction. We must teach them to have a “long obedience in the same direction.” As we live our lives before the watching world we need to be prepared to answer the questions which shape our lives in various ways. Our students are dying for answers but the church is coming up short. So, in turn, they look to the culture for answers. We need to show the culture that there are answers to their questions. Answers that are saturated with hope. Andy Steiger helps us to do that in a very relational, biblical, and winsome manner.

Visit Apologetics Canada to find out more about The Thinking Series and other great resources.

  1. Cold-Case Christianity documents this Exodus well.
  2. Stand to Reason has a great article, among others, on this very point.


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