For over 53 years, Summit Ministries has been cultivating young leaders to transform culture with a biblical worldview. Tens-of-thousands of students from all over the world have come to one of Summit’s 12-day Student Conferences to ask those hard questions about Christianity and God.
Students leave the worldview intensives confident in their faith and ready to champion truth in culture.
What makes Summit’s Student Conferences so powerful and life-changing? The combination of world-class experts and a dynamic community that readies young adults to live out a fearless yet compassionate faith.
Asking questions about our faith is important in growing spiritually. Yet, what we do with those questions will either demolish or build up our faith. If your child leaves those questions unanswered, they will fester and become a wound so infected, they can be difficult to heal.
As Christian parents, we can help our children wrestle through these important faith questions. Often, this requires us, as parents, to work out our faith on these issues as well. From that place of informed faith, we can serve as humble and gracious guides to the young people in our lives and help them find the intellectual footing of their faith.
That’s why we’ve compiled this Parent Guide. In an easy-to-understand format, we’ve introduced four questions that can destroy your child’s faith in God. But we aren’t leaving you with all doom and gloom. You will learn not only how to answer the questions with articles, video, and audio, but why it’s important to address the issues before it’s too late.
We understand this one guide won’t be the “magical fix” to create lifetime belief in your children. But it is a resource that you can use to dive deeper into issues that can help protect and anchor your child’s faith.
Click on the arrow for Question #1
Parallel to this technological advance is a philosophical one. The mantra of the 1960s was “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” — an ironic philosophy from a generation that are now over 30. But it is still the germinating idea that has produced not a cynicism toward an age group, but a cynicism toward institutions.
This cynicism coupled with an onslaught of data means students are desperate for credible sources of information.
Therefore, the question every Christian must confront is this: How do we cut through the noise with meaningful, credible, trustworthy ideas?
The answer is simple, but not easy: Young people need to see kind-hearted, meaningful exchanges about real life and real-life theology.
God spoke to parents very specifically about this:
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” —Deuteronomy 6:5-7
How do you counter the cultural noise?
You speak about God’s truth, and your love and relationship with God often. In your everyday coming and going, we encourage you to find opportunities to point out to your kids ways in which you see God at work. Show your children how a relationship with Jesus Christ matters. You have a lot of messages to counter, so use your time intentionally.
At Summit, we’ve found the key to getting this to stick is in a coupling of truth and relationship.
The depth of relationship creates a bond of trust. And truth flows most easily through that trusting bond.
“Does Christianity really matter?”
At no time in history have humans been so inundated by information. The shift in medium has drowned young people in a tsunami of information. Young people are required to have an astounding level of discernment that is rarely seen at an early age.
The generation your kids are growing up in is one that uses 30% of the Internet’s bandwidth for binge watching entire seasons of TV, but really needs their Bible reading plan to stay under 15 minutes because, “I’m just so slammed right now.”
Making Sense of Your World – Video 2
Making Sense of Your World- John Stonestreet
The World of Worldviews – Video 1
The World of Worldviews - John Stonestreet
click the bars to view each video
“Christians know what they believe, but they don’t know why they believe.”
It’s become such a truism, Paul Little titled his books after it — almost fifty years ago. But “How do I know this is true?” is one of the best and most important questions students can ask about their faith.
For those students who have been steeped in Christian culture, it is far too easy to know what you’ve “caught” rather than what’s been “taught.” But both the caught and taught should be subject to serious examination by those wanting to take their faith seriously.
All of these are significant questions that have reasonable, scholarly, and detailed answers.
As adults, we can help our children and their friends wrestle through these important questions by wrestling through them ourselves.
Our experience with thousands of young people each year reveals that they are either eager for answers or they’ve made up their mind. Often, they’ve made up their mind — not because of reason or logic — because they want to live a lifestyle that is counter to what Christianity teaches is best for them. Discerning why a student is struggling with the truth of Christ establishes an important baseline.
There’s no magic bullet for a young person who is struggling with whether Christianity is true. However, for a teen seeking truth, there are many fantastic resources available. Whether they have already made up their minds or are honestly searching for answers, we’re certain that all the evidence leads to Christianity!
Let this be an encouragement to you and a challenge as a parent: Create a culture in your home of asking questions about the authenticity of Christianity. Don’t be afraid of saying “I don’t know,” but don’t leave it there! Follow that statement with “…but let’s seek out the answer, together.”
Remember, you aren’t walking alone, and you won’t find yourself without resources in this journey. We can’t answer all the questions your kids are asking in this short guide, but we can give you a few easy-to-use resources on the next page that will get you on the right track.
Is Jesus the Only Way? – Video
The Case for Truth – Video 2
Dealing with Doubt – Audio
In this culture, your children have three basic hungers: truth, identity, and meaning.
— Students are looking for truth, something that they can latch on to. The fact that sometimes truth is difficult to find at church shouldn’t surprise us. The Barna Group discovered that only half of today’s pastors express confidence in the truth of basic Christian doctrines. Untethered from these doctrines, Christianity stands mute in answer to life’s ultimate questions. In fact, less than 10 percent of born-again Christians possess a Christian worldview (also according to Barna).
While we’d never recommend using this logic to prove scripture’s accuracy or inspiration, we should acknowledge that Jesus declared the Word of God to be truth. The most stable foundation for any discussion about truth includes a healthy dose of scripture. But as a parent, you may likely hear questions like, “Does truth exist?” (click on yellow circles below )
— Most people define their identity in terms of success: income, possessions, and reputation. However, at a deeper level, as bearers of the Imago Dei, we find ourselves tempted by two idols that poison our sense of direction.
1. The first idol is persona. Today’s online world makes it possible — easy, really — to transcend our circumstances and project an image of our perfect selves. Is this projection an illusion or reality? Do we even know, and would we admit if we did?
2. Second, we are tempted by the idol of tribe. Wrapping our identities around hobbies, musical taste, athletic ability, or some other cultural preference we share with those we approve of or whose approval we hope to win. Ironically, we root ourselves in that which cannot last while uprooting that which can.
Through persona and tribe we come to believe that we are what we appear to be. But this train has only one destination: purposelessness, and it’s most acute among the young. Helping a young person find purpose is a process of cultivating rather than revealing. The best methodology we’ve discovered is asking questions.
— Layered over with strips of paper-mache optimism and the water glue of self-confidence, our outer forms become a way to hide the emptiness we feel inside. Sometimes our quest for meaning is one of the things preventing us from finding it. There is a reality we have to confront: The hunger for meaning will be met, either by truth and beauty or by their counterfeits, self-obsessions incapable of giving to others or receiving from God.
Our experience at Summit continues to prove out that meaning is defined through relationships. The only way to show rising generations that the Church is something you are, not something to go to, is to make it personal.
Truth, identity, and meaning aren’t fluffy subjects. When you speak from the position of biblical authority, you can speak to the heart of a young person who is seeking after truth.
Resources to guide the conversation with your child about identity in Christ.
Click here to watch the entire presentation by Jeff Myers.
Resources to guide the conversation with your child about identity in Christ.
Click on the yellow circles to view each basic hunger and interactive resources.
omnipotence and says that not only does God love perfectly and work perfectly, he sees perfectly. That being the case, it is simply not reasonable to look at an all-knowing God and object to how he is running things. Rather, it is reasonable to say, “If I were as good as God is, if I were as powerful as God is, and if I knew as much as God knows, I would be doing exactly what he is doing.”
But the reality is quite different. The complication with the problem of pain is that it’s not about what’s reasonable; it’s about what’s painful. In other words, the question is not, “Why does God allow bad things to happen?” but rather, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to me? Or to people I care about? Or to people I see on the news?” Anyone who has spent any time with humans knows the depth of their sorrow and
bondage of their pain. While it is important to know the apologetics and theology, it is important that we obey the command of Romans 12:15, “weep with those who weep,” while we wait to be “set free from [creation’s] slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God”(Romans 8:21).
Answering this question is not easy. Often the most theologically accurate answer feels least satisfying. On the following page we offer several resources to help you work through this question and its answers.
As a matter of logic, the problem of pain is not a good rebuttal to theism in general nor to Christianity in particular. If somebody wants to say, “How can you believe in an all-powerful, all-loving God when there is so much evil and suffering in the world?” one possible answer for a theist is simply to say that your God is not all-loving nor all-powerful. After all, there are plenty of religions in the world that have their gods at war with each other, throwing, fighting, plotting, and scheming — not exactly portraits of all-loving gods. But for a Christian in particular, we simply have to acknowledge the rest of His attributes.
If we are going to say that the Christian God is all-loving and all-powerful, then we must also note that he is all-knowing. The omniscience of God dovetails with his omnibenevolence and
The Problem of Evil: Obstacles to Faith
Click here to watch the entire presentation by Mark Mittelberg.
How Does Christianity Explain Evil and Suffering?
When you send your children to Summit, they will experience a community of like-minded believers and world-class thought leaders that will challenge them to dig into why they believe what they believe.
Giving your children the tools and knowledge to confidently champion their faith as they leave your home is vital in creating a deeply rooted faith that can, and will, change culture and the world.
1. Can I trust what my friends and people in media tell me?
Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask
— Mark Mittelberg, Lee Strobel
The Deadliest Monster: A Christian Introduction to Worldview
— J.F. Baldwin
Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview
— William E. Brown, W. Gary Phillips, John Stonestreet
2. Why do I believe what I've been told is true about God?
— Paul K. Hoffman and Norman L. Geisler
— Alex McFarland
— J. Warner Wallace
— Brett Kunkle
3. How does being a Christian help me understand who I am?
— Aaron Zubia
— H. Wayne House
— Jeff Myers
4. Why does God allow bad things to happen?
— Summit Staff
— C.S. Lewis
— Paul Copan
The Problem of Evil Podcast
— John Stonestreet and Randall Niles
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