A few years ago, I read a statistic that said 70-75% of students raised in Christian homes left high school and quit going to church.
I was gobsmacked!
I knew that happened some, of course, but 70-75%?! My mind kept going back to that statistic. Days and weeks passed and no matter what I was doing, I found my thinking about all those students who had stopped attending church.
I kept wondering “What in the world is going on at the university? There were intellectual challenges in college in my day, but this statistic makes no sense at all!” Finally, God led me into a ministry at local universities. Here’s how it happened –
While reading the book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, I read four questions the authors said were helpful in starting conversations and learning what people believed. I liked the four questions very much and realized I had some questions I could add to the list.
In a short period of time, I had put together an 11 question survey and found myself on the campus of California State University, Long Beach – known to its students as The Beach.
One of my goals was to start conversations. After completing a survey with a student, I would ask “Did you find those questions interesting?” Boy, did I get some interesting responses! All very civil and polite. And while I hid my surprise, I was astounded at some of these conversations.
I made a list of ideas that are commonly held by university students:
- Christians are anti-science
- Science has disproved the Bible
- Christianity is not intellectually viable
- It’s okay to mock and ridicule Christians for their faith because they are not smart enough or educated enough to understand that their viewpoint has been disproven
- The best way to defeat Christians is to mock them into silence
For the sake of time and space, I’ve mashed several of these conversations into two.
Me: Thank you for helping me with the survey. Did you find the questions interesting?
Student: Yes, the questions were interesting but, ya know, it’s too bad Christianity isn’t intellectually viable.
Me: What do you mean?
Student: No intelligent, college-educated person would ever choose to believe in Jesus as an adult. That just doesn’t happen. Christianity is dying. The only Christians left are those who were raised Christian and haven’t yet been educated out of their superstition.
Here’s another mashup:
Student: You know that science has refuted the Bible, right? Christians cling to their faith only by refusing to use their minds.
Me: What do you mean?
Student: You Christians have to believe things you know aren’t true. That’s what faith is all about, right?
Me: No, actually. Faith goes beyond what we can prove but it doesn’t go against what we know is true. Can you give me an example of what you mean?
Student: Evolutionary biology is an example. Everyone knows it’s true but you Christians have to reject it.
Me: Actually, that’s not technically correct. There are Christians who reject evolution but there are also many Christians who hold to a view called theistic evolution, believing God was behind the evolutionary process.
Student: No, but you Christians have to believe the earth is 6,000 years old and scientifically that’s just laughable. I could never be a Christian because you have to put your brain in the corner and never use it again.
Me: Again, not true. The Bible doesn’t say how old the earth is. Some Christians believe the earth is 6-10,000 years old but not all. Christians hold many different views about origins and the age of the universe. It’s possible to believe in an old universe and an old earth and still have a high view of the Bible.
I realized, of course, that there was nothing I could say to these students in a short conversation that was going to change their entire worldview about Christianity. But maybe if I had a some kind of a tool… like a booklet… that I could give away. I wanted something short enough students might actually read it and cheap enough I could give it away and yet long enough to show Christianity is intellectually viable.
Nothing suitable was readily available on the market to buy and give away, so I decided to write one.
The booklet is titled Is Christianity True? Why Three Brilliant Atheists Became Christians. It tells the conversion stories of Dr. Francis Collins, Dr. Allan Sandage and Lee Strobel.
Every week, I continue to survey students on local university campuses. And I continue to have fascinating conversations with college students (and sometimes faculty).
This is the ministry God has led me to. I plant seeds on the university campus. Gospel seeds.
I decided to blog about my conversations here. You cannot also check out our website – www.factbridge.org – for more information about our ministry, the booklet and the focus groups we have conducted on the booklet.
I hope you enjoy reading about what God is doing in the lives of university students and I hope you decide to stop by on a regular basis.