The One Factor in Helping Students Retain Faith After High School

0e2241705_1372095385_saving-leonardo-nancy-pearceyNancy Pearcey challenges me more than any other in showing the need of having a strong Christian worldview, but also interacting with other non-Christian worldviews. In Pearcey’s book Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning, Pearcey cited a study that showed the one factor which helped students keep their faith after high school.  What was it?

A recent study by Fuller Seminary found that when teens graduate from high school, they often “graduate from God”as well. But the researchers also discovered one factor that proved most effective in helping young people retain their Christian convictions. What would you expect it to be? More prayer? More Bible study? As important as those things are, surprisingly, the most significant factor was whether they had a safe place to wrestle with doubts and questions before leaving home. The study concluded, “The more college students felt that they had the opportunity to express their doubt while they were in high school, the higher [their] levels of faith maturity and spiritual maturity.”

In other words, the only way teens become truly “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks”(1 Pet. 3:15) is by wrestling personally with the questions.”

The challenge for our Christian homes and churches is to have these environments as ‘safe places to wrestle with doubts.’  I began wrestling at 15, and I’m thankful for having places where I could share some of my concerns and work through them.

Pastors, give your student pastors the room to help students explore the issues of the faith that trouble them.  Student pastors, given your students room to express those issues.  Better now than later while you still have influence!