Recently, I had the opportunity to have a sit-down with a friend who was raised in a Christian church, but as an adult, left to follow another religion. I asked her to tell me her “story,” what led her away. It boiled down to this new religious system giving her the answers to questions she said she couldn’t find in Christianity. Now, most of these questions were what could be considered tangential theology. But what the conversation kept coming back to was that this other religious system had the answers because it used revelation outside of the Bible to “fill in the gaps” where things were left out of the Bible originally.
Consider who was speaking: someone who grew up in church, whose family is still Christian, who very quickly was convinced that the Bible was (intentionally, maliciously) organized in such a way that it no longer represents God’s will for our world.
I have to ask – did the church she grew up attending affirm the sufficiency of Scripture on a regular basis? Did they ever explain why?
I grew up in Bible-believing churches. My father was a pastor. It wasn’t until I got to high school that I learned about the process of how the Bible was assembled and why we have the 66 books we have now. I remember spending a few Wednesday nights on the subject in the six years I was in youth group, but that was basically it.
Thankfully, I went to a Christian high school with a teacher who was very concerned that we understand, from a historical perspective, how we can know that the Bible we have today is God’s Word, the way He intended us to read it. I also had a teacher who was a former Wycliffe Bible translator, who took the time to share her experience with us.
This gave me a base from which to tell my friend that the Bible we have can be verified by thousands of original New Testament copies, and by the records we have describing the canonization process. And it certainly helped that I was able to see the Passages exhibit at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art a few years ago, where hundreds of copies of Scripture from thousands of years past were right before my eyes.
But again, the primary source of this knowledge came from outside the church. That just doesn’t seem right.
I’m not intending to ignore or discount the aspect of genuine regeneration in “why young adults leave the church.” Not at all. And I can’t speak as to how every church trains and educates their members to communicate with members of other faiths.
I can only speak from my own experience. And that is, that the majority of what prepared me for that conversation with my friend has not come from sources within my local church. I hope that is not the case in the majority. But I would like to encourage our church programs to take the time, on a regular basis, to reaffirm to our young people that the faith we have isn’t a blind one. It won’t only strengthen their own faith, but it will give them more meaningful tools to use in conversations with their non-Christian friends.