“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” -John 15:5
Each Friday I teach a class… and I’m just making it up as I go along! Class Description: “Why don’t you teach a Bible lesson and have the students create an evangelistic blog.” The blog launches tomorrow. I am extremely proud of my eight students and I would love it if you would check out their blog at Swaggy Disciples.
In the four weeks we have been in school I have given the students three assignments. The first was to write about a time they enjoyed God. The second: Who is Jesus? The third: “Share your personal faith testimony.” Yesterday I received a call one student was having a very emotional reaction. Will this be a push toward the Lord or a push away from Him? I struggle to know if I handled it well.
I feel compelled to push. I feel compelled to shake away the fake.
If you don’t enjoy God, that’s fine. If you don’t know much about Jesus, we can work with that. If you don’t have a testimony, don’t fake one. The testimony can be… “I don’t get this stuff and I’m angry.”
What I’m learning is in order to lead students to be evangelists, they must be honest about their own faith. Authentic in their own stories.
Deconversion: Is That a Thing?
I have friends who have deconverted away from Christianity. It feels weird to even use that phrase because I don’t know where it fits theologically. Were they saved to begin with? Are they apostates? Were they really saved and then lost, and how is this possible? Anyway, it just means that these people passed the Christian smell test and now they are actively against Christianity.
Study after study indicate our students are leaving the churches. There are various reasons but one that comes up time and again is intellectual skepticism. Students are having faith experiences at church and youth group. They enjoy worship and even serving in the community, but when it comes down to it they have not learned a reason for the hope that is within them.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 1 Timothy 2:15
Where “Be a Good Christian Kid” Leads
I recently began watching videos online by Christopher Redford who chronicles his own deconversion story. He was a loyal church goer. He excelled in Royal Rangers, had what he calls and experience with the Holy Spirit and actively shared his faith online. Once he hit college he took an ethics class where the professor’s arguments led him on a downward spiral. He notes “evidence, reason, and experiences related to prayer, morality, deconverted Christians, the Bible and his relationship with God Himself led to his inability to believe anymore.”
Mr. Redford is an intellectual. His childhood faith was too fluffy and lacked substance and he eventually latched onto atheism as the rational choice. (As of this moment his YouTube channel Evid3nc3 has about 45,000 subscribers.)
Emotional experiences without substance does not lead to faith that will last the test of time.
For some time I have been seeking opportunities to move away from the safe Christian bubble into the world. Crazy enough the Lord has allowed this to be where I least expected it- in a Christian school. I’m studying apologetics instead of giving over-the-air love. I’m fighting for my students to have real faith, so they are prepared to leave the bubble too.
Know anything about deconversion? For more on this topic check out the amazing blog Christian Mom Thoughts. It has wonderful posts about discussing these intellectual arguments with your kids, like this one: 3 Key Things Skeptics Will Say to Shame Your Kids for Being Christians.