Last time I talked about how unprepared Christians can be for defending their faith in the face of pushback, but what we didn’t address is why. The only answer I can come up with is a lack of purposeful Christian education. If you look at the amount of time dedicated to Christian education in the past (i.e. Christian school, Sunday School, catechism classes, two Church services, Bible studies, etc.), it far exceeds what we see today. I fear history will not look fondly at our generations, as we have shrunk the ministries and services of the Church to a 1-hour service per week. Usually, then, that hour needs to catch our attention with an engaging message and upbeat music; otherwise, we’d rather take the time off to be with our family. Less and less do Christians see themselves as coming to serve and worship God, and more and more have we bought into the consumer mentality of a Church service needing to meet our entertainment appetites. We chase experience; we chase a feeling, but we should be chasing God’s glory. No wonder kids leave and don’t come back.
The Word says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). One look at statistics would show that either the Scriptures are wrong, or we have failed to adequately train up our children. A Christian education should be robust; it should train a child in a defense of the gospel, engaging the mind and intellect in addition to the affections. There are 18 years between a baptism and going off to college, and yet too many young adults are stepping into the world without the ability to articulate and defend even the basics of their faith. After 18 years of anything, we should have it mastered.
Years ago, as part of my undergrad, I took a course in theater. I’m not sure why I did it, and I felt tremendously out of place among all those talented individuals. I’m sure that was visible whenever I’d have to get in front of the class and act. However, on one particular occasion, I came across a word I didn’t know, and I proceeded to slowly sound it out. Afterward, the professor, who was more encouraging than he needed to be, said, “Here’s a trick I’ve learned about public speaking: if you are unsure about a word, say it with gusto and confidence. If you do that, the people who actually know the word won’t judge you for getting it wrong. Instead, your confidence will make them question if they’ve ever had it right”.
I think we as Christians have fallen prey to that tactic too often. Christianity is classified in the Scriptures as “foolishness” to the world (1 Corinthians 1:18). Yet the reverse is also true: to the one who has tasted and seen the glories of God, it seems unfathomably foolish not to see His handiwork and creative wonders in those two books of revelation: nature and Scripture (i.e. Psalm 19). However, when we cannot defend to others what seems obvious to us, we begin to question if we’ve had it wrong altogether.
This happens, for example, on college campuses...
My name is Bryan Lanting. I am a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, and I am presently serving Mt View CRC as their pastor. I am married to a wonderful wife named Sydney, and both of us are loving life, loving Lynden, and loving the Lord!