During Junior High youth group (5th-8th grade) this past Wednesday night, while casually eating dinner together, a student abruptly asked aloud “What and where is the soul?” What commenced was an exciting conversation in which 7th graders were asking questions regarding such topics as how the probability of infinite universes corresponds to the creation story of the Bible (no, I’m not making this up) and what the difference was between the miraculous and the supernatural.
I love my job.
Also, it’s because of moments like these that I see the benefit of good theological education among ministers. This is why I desire to attend a seminary, God-willing, that ‘puts me through the ringer’, so to speak. These students were asking questions that were relevant for thinkers from ancient Greece to modern astronomers and physicists.
This doesn’t occupy the whole of our youth ministry (by any means), but when it comes up, I have the unique opportunity to nourish students’ faith by appealing, for a moment, to their specifically intellectual journey into God.
Christianity, at its best, has always supported the search for truth at all costs, because it knows that all truth is God’s truth. If our God is Truth, then these questions, doubts, conversations, etc. are a form of worship.
My excitement surrounding these conversations is at least three-fold: 1. I hope that students will see that Christianity is, in fact, the most compelling belief system and way of life because it attests to the Truth. 2. I also hope that students will realize that their inquiries and doubts are not counter-intuitive to their faith, but that they actually nurture their faith when pursued rightly. 3. I’m a nerd and these conversations are fun for me.
If you don’t know the alarming statistics of High School Christians who leave the Faith as soon as they step foot into their first semester of college, then Google it. After having participated in leading a college ministry for a few years, it became clear to me that the reasons for the students leaving were almost always superficial and directly due to the explicit rejection of a rigorous thought-life in their home churches. My prayer is that our youth ministry would never be guilty of that.
Christianity is utterly compelling because it tells the true Story of Christ. There is not an ounce of secularism, naturalism, humanism, post-modernity, or fundamentalism (religious and non-religious) that overcomes that reality. This is one of the things we need to be teaching and showing our students.