What kinds of questions are students asking? What kinds of doubts are they struggling with, and what kinds of objections bother them? Well, we just spent an entire weekend with about 1,000 students at the reTHINK conference, so we have some ideas. Plus, we're going to give students an opportunity to ask more of their questions. So if you're a student or you teach or parent students, join us tonight, 6:30–7:30 p.m. (PT). You can watch it all live right here, on YouTube, or on Google+.
We're hosting our third annual reTHINK Student Apologetics Conference this coming Friday and Saturday. Not only do we hope to provide some solid answers to students' most pressing questions, we also hope to carve out some safe space for students to even ask those questions. Because we have the truth, Christians don't have to be afraid of any question or objection. Indeed, every objection to the truth will be flawed by its very nature. So we will welcome students' questions at reTHINK. However, in a short day-and-a-half conference we just won't have time to answer them all. That's why we've extended the Q & A beyond reTHINK.
On Thursday, October 2nd, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. (PT), we will continue to answer students' questions at our "What Students Are Asking" live online event. We'll take the most-asked questions from the reTHINK Conference and explore them a bit more. And we'll give those students who attended the conference a chance to interact with us and even ask more of their questions. You're invited as well (you can watch the event from the blog, YouTube, or Google+—see here for all the details), so grab your students and join us next Thursday.
[Update: Watch a recording of the live event here.]
There are just 9 days left until the third annual reTHINK Student Apologetics Conference in Orange County, California on the 26th and 27th. At this conference we raise the bar of expectations for students and, at the same time, make the training accessible to their young minds. It's a challenging line to walk, but if the response from the first two years (over 1,000 people have attended) is any indication, we've found a way to be effective. reTHINK is a big undertaking, so why do we put all that energy and work into it? Because the church needs to recapture young minds with the truth:
On the podcast this week, Greg offered encouragement to those who are considering homeschooling their children (or already working hard at it) by reading a letter sent to him by a friend of Stand to Reason. Here is that letter:
Thursday last week was a rough day in "Mom" land. I failed to get up and going before my kids, and for me, this usually means I am playing catch-up all day. I didn't have an aim for the day, our baby decided to take the opportunity to eat much more often than usual and so our routine was out of whack, and my two five year olds were bored to tears and solved their boredom by bickering with each other constantly. I didn't get a chance to have a meal, let alone a shower, until mid-afternoon and generally felt like the worst version of myself as a person, mother, wife, you name it. I called my husband in tears, pleading with him – or perhaps, with myself – to change our minds about homeschooling that will be starting in a week. I was convinced that not only couldn't I do it, I didn't want to! I watched all my friends on the street happily walk their kiddos to the school bus (which a good family friend is driving this year), wave goodbye, and have a day to themselves to get things done, have a break, run errands without tag-alongs! The ease. The simplicity. The peace and quiet.
Thoughts began to invade, like perhaps I couldn't give my daughters everything they needed for their education, like socialization. P.E. Reading Group. And all the other things I enjoyed about school as a child but that my girls wouldn't experience in the same way through a homeschool co-op. I started to spiral into imagining that I would perhaps be harming them by homeschooling, and that I would certainly drive myself nuts! Suffice it to say, by bedtime my heart was heavy about the decision we had already made.
As I prayed in the shower the next morning, heart still heavy, I asked that God would break through the emotions and the mental fog and bring clarity and direction for me in regards to school. That He would show me the "why" if, indeed, the Classical homeschool co-op is still the best course to pursue at this time even if it is the most challenging. As I got ready for the day, I decided to listen to a sermon podcast, but for some reason our church website was down. So I thought I'd double check the STR site for any podcasts I had missed. Imagine my curiosity when I saw the title of the newest podcast: The First Day of School.
Greg, your words literally brought tears to my eyes and fresh hope to my heart. The truth that "there is no such thing as a neutral education" struck me to the core. And as I heard you describe the first day's chapel, the instruction and the singing, and the praying afterwards, my heart was tenderized with the fresh realization that academics are secondary to what my husband and I really value in our educational "aim" for our girls. It is the development of the soul, providing a firm foundation not only for this life but for the life to come, that is of highest priority. The weight of this responsibility is, at times, crushing. But I believe that God crushes us to rebuild us into His likeness, and that He promises to carry the burden with us. Let me be crushed and rebuilt for my children, the most precious of burdens I will ever carry!
I am so grateful that while we don't have the ability at this time to send our girls to a Christian school, we do have the opportunity to homeschool them with a fabulous Classical Christian co-op. I trust that as we proceed, even though aspects of this path seem daunting at present, I am confident that God will bring provision in ways I can't expect or anticipate from this vantage point. I believe that simply being faithful to Him will bring joy, peace, and fulfillment to our family, and maybe I will absolutely love educating at home! Regardless, after listening to your podcast and discussing it afterwards with my husband, we are renewed in our conviction that this is the best path for us at present, that we must educate our precious girls in light of eternity, with the best of our ability as God gives us grace to do so.
For more on classical Christian education, see here.
Michael Horton discussed youth ministry with Brett and Greg recently on the White Horse Inn. You can download the episodes from iTunes or listen to the audio on the WHI website at the links below, where they’ve also collected related articles, study aids, books, and audio.
Keeping Our Kids, Part 1: “On this edition of White Horse Inn, I’ll talk with Greg Koukl and Brett Kunkle from Stand to Reason about various strategies of passing the faith on to the next generation. In particular, Brett discusses his own crisis of faith during his first semester of college and how that crisis affects his unique approach toward youth ministry.”
Keeping Our Kids, Part 2: “Continuing the conversation, Greg Koukl, Brett Kunkle, and I discuss the importance of preparing our youth for a life of faith in a secular age. Not only should they be taught what they believe and why, but before they leave home, they should also be given some basic training in how to communicate their faith and how to answer those with opposing points of view.”
The Beyond Teachable Moments blog has an interview with a young Christian woman who had a difficult time in college when her worldview was challenged:
The most troubling thing was the amount of differing beliefs and worldviews I encountered, from professors and other students. At the time I thought they had much better arguments than I did for the validity of their views.
The post is focused on helping parents do a better job preparing their children:
[T]he top-of-mind question I had for [the young woman being interviewed] was: what did she wish she’d known before she went to university? Here is her answer:
“I wish I had known that it was okay to doubt; it was okay not to know the answer; and that it was okay to ask hard questions and to challenge the answers.
I wish I had known that there was so much evidence in favor of a creator.
I wish I had known more history and had had a broader perspective on how the world operates.
I especially wish I had known arguments for the resurrection of Jesus, and had known enough to realize how real He really is and to have made Him the foundation of my life much earlier on.
I wish I had been exposed in-depth to different world religions, what their beliefs are and the historical background on which they lay.”
Remember that this young woman grew up in a home with regular family devotions and discussions about faith. However, questions like: ‘How do I know that God exists?’ would send her parents into a tail spin of worry that she was losing her faith. It became easier to conform to what they wanted her to be, than to openly question her faith under the safety of her parents’ roof.
The interviewed woman continues with some suggestions for what her parents could have done differently.