Hi Insiders! We have an incredible post for you today from the one and only Katie Sutton! I hope you enjoy and find it helpful to your ministry!
BY KATIE SUTTON
Recently, the Fixed Point Foundation published some interesting research compiled while polling college-aged atheists. Many of these atheists reported having been church attendees during the time they made the choice to live without God. In Christian circles, we like to blame college professors for turning our kids away from God, but the students in this research said that they became atheists between the ages of 12 and 17. The finger points accusingly back to us as youth workers. Could these kids have been at our church or in our student ministry when they turned away from God?
I personally have noticed an increase in students who claim to be atheist and agnostic in our Bible studies. Whether it’s a parent forcing them to come, a friend bringing them in, or pure curiosity drawing them here, I’ve determined to take every opportunity as a divine appointment to give those students a smooth path for the Holy Spirit to work in their lives.
Some ways to make your group atheist-friendly:
- Let them ask “Why?” Allow a place in your student ministry to ask questions. Make at least one of your forums a place for students to speak back to you. Preaching-only ministries will not attract or keep atheists. They need to be able to question you about your beliefs.
- Make your ministry a safe place to dialogue. Keep public mockery to a minimum! Don’t ever let anyone get the impression that there’s a dumb question when it comes to Christianity. Allow all opinions an expression without apologizing for the Truth. Avoid combativeness, but challenge opinions passionately and freely.
- Admit when a question can only be answered by faith. Don’t try to prove something that only God can prove. Personal testimony is sometimes the only right answer.
- Make faith stories an important part of your ministry. Students want to know that Christianity “works.” Often, the only things a student will remember are the stories you tell them. Tell them why you believe what you believe and how it affects your life. Give your student workers an opportunity to do the same. Atheists need to know there ARE success stories.
As a youth worker, I find it jarring that we may have missed the opportunity to reach a student while he or she sat in the midst of our churches and student ministries. Now that we know, what are we going to do about it?
Keep loving every student that you encounter well! You guys rock.