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Reflections on Evangelical Youth

July 31st, 2007 | 1 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

During last week of Wheatstone Academy, several intuitions about the state of Christian youth were broadly confirmed:

1)  It seems that on the whole, attention spans are decreasing considerably.  Most students have a difficult time paying attention for longer than 30 minutes.

2)  Unlike Brett's experience, most of the students I talked to knew enough to not be relativists about things like God and morality.  That's probably due mainly to the demographic:  Wheatstone attracts leaders and apologetics junkies.  But that doesn't mean they aren't relativists in other areas of their lives.  They know just enough to know that relativism is the bogey that must be avoided, even though many of them have drunk deeply at its well without realizing it.  The relativism is more subtle than Brett found, and probably more destructive.
3)  If you challenge Christian students, they respond enthusiastically.  At the end of what is for many students an intellectually demanding week, it was common to hear remarks like, "That was so hard, but so good.  I can't wait until next year."  Most students are tired of being talked down to, and if you take them seriously, they will follow you anywhere.

4)  There is good reason to hope.  Working with Christian youth can be at times frustrating, since it seems like progress is so hard.  But every now and then, in the moments when lightbulbs go off and students catch the vision, hope is restored.  I saw many such moments this week at Wheatstone.

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.