Dr. Chuck Whittaker, Director of Spiritual Development
November 15, 2015
Last time we introduced the idea that there seems to be an increasing about of young people leaving home for college and career that are leaving their church and faith behind. We determined that some of the statistics presented (i.e. 65-95% of youths stop attending church after they graduate) may be more anecdotal than empirically or scientifically based. However, it is believed that whatever the exact statistics, there is definitely an increasing trend in this direction.
In an article by Derek Melleby of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding (2008), William Wilberforce was quoted on his timeless views of why children walk away from the faith. The first one is:
Students who walk away from the faith succumb to temptations they haven't faced before.
Many Christian students may have been exposed to the temptations of drugs, alcohol and sex in high school, but in college, being away from home and parents makes the challenges more difficult to withstand." Christian schools back up parents and the local church is this area. What sets the Christian school contribution apart in this area is the integration of the Biblical worldview into science (anatomy and biology), history, and literature classes, etc., that spell out culturally why these behaviors are destructive not only to the student, but to culture past and present as demonstrated in literature, history and the physical wellbeing of a nation. Bible classes like Apologetics discuss the overwhelming effects of the Bible on Western culture for the betterment of mankind. This essential theme will stabilize young people as they understand on a deeper more foundational level why various behaviors our counterproductive. Few local church programs, especially for teens, are prepared to offer this level of protective concepts for our college-bound students. However, even more important is the second of Wilberforce's points:
Students who walk away from the faith didn't learn to think.
Notice this more recent conclusion from a Barna study (November 2011) on the legitimacy of the trend of students leaving their faith in college:
"The problem arises from the inadequacy of preparing young Christians for life beyond the youth group. Kinnaman pointed to research findings showing that only a small minority of young Christians has been taught to think about matters of faith, calling, and culture. Fewer than one out of five have any idea how the Bible ought to inform their scholastic and professional interests. And most lack adult mentors or meaningful friendships with older Christians [often provided by Christian school teaches, emphasis mine] who can guide them through the inevitable questions that arise during the course of their studies. In other words, the university setting does not usually cause the disconnect, it exposes the shallow-faith problem of many young disciples."
Christian High Schools and especially Dominion focus on preparing students to defend against ideas that undermine faith. Our teachers have a mandate to prepare their student's minds for concepts, in many cases, that are designed to undermine the Christian foundations of this country. Notice the point made by Derek Melleby: "The problem that Wilberforce diagnosed over 200 years ago is still with us today. Many students lack critical thinking skills, failing to take what knowledge is at their disposal to form their own beliefs and convictions. We must continually create space for students to wrestle with the big questions of life. College should not be the first time that students engage in abstract or deep thinking, but for many students it is. Critical thinking and Christian discernment are spiritual disciplines that need to be developed. Like anything worthwhile in life, the developmental process takes time and is difficult. A youth group devoted to these activities may not draw the biggest crowds, but if we are serious about preparing students for life after high school, helping student to "learn to think" will be a mark of our ministries."
At the time this was written, English churches did not have the support of Christian High Schools as we have them today. Although the Church in Wilberforce's era may have been better equipped to prepare students for college culture, the church today seems to be struggling to bring critical thinking skills to the student without the assistance of a strategic Christian High School program.
Besides the excellent integration of Judeo-Christian concepts into the entire curriculum at Dominion, the upper level Bible courses, including Apologetic, Comparative Religions, Creation Apologetics, and Spiritual Warfare are specifically designed to challenge the students to critically think through difficult issues before they are faced with them in dorm rooms or classrooms on campus. We have in-class debates, the latest arguments for Creationism/Intelligent Design, and the weaknesses, assumptions, and half–truths presented by evolutionists today. Students will understand that science is Christian based and the vast majority of key scientists that began the scientific revolution were Christians ( See How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin Schmidt and The Book Than Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi).
A college professor, an avowed atheist biologist Ph.D comes to our Creation Apologetics class and presents his case to our student in a "friendly environment." They ask questions and critically evaluate what he says with what they have learned in class. We have representatives from at least 12 different faiths come to our Religions class for question and answer session with ours students so they will not be surprised by anything that they may encounter on campus. Some of the most difficult questions Christians ever will have to deal with are presented and discussed in our Apologetics class so our students will have an answer for the hope that is within them!
Dominion is committed to instilling Christian discernment and critical thinking in our students, so they will have confidence that what they have grown up believing is defensible, sound, logical and the Truth.
The last portion of this three part theme will present a portion of another article that discusses why students are leaving their faith in college and there will be a quote from Dominion alumni who have written back, demonstrating gratitude for the preparation they received at Dominion that kept their faith on track while under attack in their respective college experiences.