Meeting the Need for Truth

This fall, I spoke at an event that encouraged me greatly. It was a conference in Indianapolis organized by Teenmania, a group founded by youth evangelist Ron Luce, an energetic and able leader. According to its mission statement, Teenmania seeks "to deepen young people's spiritual maturity, passion, commitment, and effectiveness for Christ." It's a great fast-growing movement. There were three thousand youth pastors. My subject was how to teach Christian worldview to teenagers and prepare them to defend their faith in college. The response was terrific. The pastors got it: They seemed to understand the importance of teaching worldview to kids. Instead of just sharing the basics of faith, or just communicating a faith based mostly on good feelings, they understood that their task is to show kids a whole new way of looking at the world -- a way that's radically different from the moral relativism that contemporary culture teaches them. These youth pastors can provide honest, intelligent, biblically grounded answers to the serious questions many of these kids are asking. Let me tell you, there's a desperate need for youth workers, educators, and parents who will do exactly this. In a recent survey, pollster George Barna reported that 83 percent of teenagers in this country today believe that "moral truth depends on the circumstances." Think of it. And "only 6 percent believe that moral truth is absolute." Perhaps most disturbing of all, "only 9 percent of born again teens believe in moral absolutes" -- only one in ten of our Christian kids. The sad truth is that these kids don't understand what they say they believe about God, and they have no idea how their faith should affect their thinking and their lives. That's frightening not only for them, but for the Church as well. If our future leaders don't believe in absolute truth even though they say they know the God who is the source of all truth, what kind of a future can we expect? But the encouraging news, you see, is that the kids are asking the right questions. And in growing numbers, adults are lining up, ready to teach kids about worldview. Already Teenmania is running a worldview course based on How Now Shall We Live?, the book Nancy Pearcey and I wrote, at its Freedom Academy, a one-year course that students take between high school and college. And we here at BreakPoint are planning to step up our own efforts as well. We've had a great response whenever we've talked about the need for Christian worldview training for kids or when we have suggested resources for parents and teachers. As a result of that, we're developing our own teen worldview curriculum with the help of Mark Eckel, a professor at Moody Bible Institute, who has extensive experience in this area. Mark taught worldview for sixteen years at a Christian high school, and he's one of the best qualified people I know in this field. This effort to teach our youth has become a passion for me. I'll be speaking to the Young Life staff in January as I did to Teenmania. And I want to keep doing as much teaching as possible with young people. I hope you'll consider doing the same. Keep checking our website for updates on the curriculum that we are developing and for other resources you can use to help in this crucial work. In Ephesians, we're told that we are to work toward "the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry." That is the job of the Church. Well, I say start early. I can't think of a more urgent need than enabling young people to understand their faith and preparing them to defend it against the onslaught of secular thought that they will be encountering in their schools and from popular culture. For further reading and information: To order a CD of Charles Colson's Teenmania talk, "Who Says Truth Can't Be Taught?", call 1-877-322-5527 (suggested donation: $10). Learn more about Teenmania at its website. "Teenagers," summary of research compiled by Barna Research, 2001. See also the following press releases at Barna's website: "Teenagers Embrace Religion but Are Not Excited about Christianity," "Teenagers' Beliefs Moving Farther from Biblical Perspective," and "Americans Are Most Likely to Base Truth on Feelings." "Teens More Conservative on Some Issues," FOX News, 9 December 2003. Stuart Silverstein and Andy Olsen, "Evangelical Colleges Make Marks in a Secular World," Los Angeles Times, 30 November 2003. Stuart Silverstein, "Colleges Fail to Encourage Spiritual Ideas, Study Finds," Los Angeles Times, 21 November 2003, A19. (Archived article; costs $2.50 to retrieve.) See the BreakPoint commentaries, "It's All about Profit: Exploiting Kids for Cash," "Me, Myself, and I: What's Really Wrong with Teen Culture," "Bankrupt at Age Twenty-Five: Marketing to Teens, Tweens, and Kids," "Image Is Everything: Losing Identity at the Shopping Mall," "A New Generation Gap," "The Third Millennium Church," "The New Counterculture," and "Putting Worldview to Work: Christ and Culture Week at Covenant Life School." Visit past "Worldview for Parents" pages for resources on specific issues and questions. Nancy Fitzgerald, "Teaching Worldview to the Next Generation." Nancy leads a worldview study for teenagers in her home in Indianapolis; this page provides a basic outline of the curriculum she uses. Charles Colson, Answers to Your Kids' Questions (Tyndale, 2000). Robert Webber, The Younger Evangelicals (Baker Book House, 2002). Colleen Carroll, The New Faithful (Loyola Press, 2002). We've recently developed some worldview resources for adults: an online course based on Chuck Colson's book How Now Shall We Live?; a small-group curriculum called "CounterCultural Christians," and a newly released small-group curriculum on bioethics called "Playing God?". Call 1-877-3-CALLBP to learn more. The "Worldview for Teens" resource guide includes information about books on worldview, education, ethics, justice/law, life, science, the arts, popular culture, and work, as well as information on camps, ministries, and multimedia resources. J. Budziszewski, How to Stay Christian in College(NavPress, 1999). A newly updated version will be released next year and will be previewed in BreakPoint WorldViewmagazine.


Chuck Colson


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