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Ratio Christi

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Thank you and good morning! I don’t know how many of you remember the last time I was up on this stage. But the last time I preached here, I ended with a prayer that this church would find a pastor that had a deep knowledge of the Word. A passion and love for people. And a character that is unmatched. And I believe God has answered that prayer for this church in Pastor Adam. He and I have talked multiple times over the last few months. We have become good friends. And I can tell you he has a wide vision. Not only for this church. But for this community and beyond! And as a new Chapter Director for Ratio Christi, I am happy and excited to partner with him , and this group of believers as our host church, as part of that vision!
Far too many pastors in America churches today have what I call a “closed pulpit”. That is that they are often unwilling or afraid to share their platform. The reasons vary. But one of the things I appreciate about Pastor Adam, is that he is willing to do whatever it takes to let the Spirit do the work. So thank you Adam for this and the opportunities that lay ahead as we work and partner together. I truly believe God is opening doors through this church.
So what I would like to do this morning is share with you why a unique ministry like Ratio Christi can be an extremely valuable part of a healthy vibrant church.
So as you heard on the video. Ratio Christi is a campus apologetics alliance. Which stand for....

“The Reason of Christ”

As an organization they meet on campus. Seeking to dialogue and debate tough issues. Like human sex trafficking and slavery. Some chapters even have more non believers than believers. The goal is to generate more light than heat. And to always get back to the question of reason of Christ. RC is on the cutting edge of campus apologetics ministry. There is not other ministry of this kind. What separates us from standard apologetics ministries, is that we are on the campus. What separates us from other campus ministries is that we do apologetics.
“The university is a clear-cut fulcrum with which to move the world. More potently than by any other means, change the University and you change the world.” Charles Malik FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Imagine what could happen if every Christian student and professor could confidently give an answer for the hope they have in Christ.
Imagine a world transformed by a generation raised up to know why they believe what they believe.

OUR VISION

Thoughtful Christianity:
Transforming Lives on Campus Today,
Changing Culture Tomorrow

OUR COMMITMENT

To work diligently to touch the lives of people for Jesus Christ
To keep you informed of how God is blessing this ministry
To pray for you and to share our prayer needs with you
But part of living in a fallen world and doing evangelism comes with a challenge. And the challenge now is greater than it ever had been.

CHALLENGE

50-80% of Christian youth abandon the faith after high school.

Students in our churches are often ill-prepared for the challenges to their faith that they experience in college. Some of these students are able to wrestle with these challenges and make their faith their own. However, most do not.

Love Responds

Every challenges require a response. And if we say we love everyone we must respond. And the church is facing a true challenge with young people in America and Europe leaving the Christian church at an unprecedented rate. Why?? The reason is actually fairly simple.

Intellectual Doubt

Now let me first say that I do not think that doubt is a bad thing. The idea of doubt kinda of gets a bad rap in Churches today. We think of it as the enemy of faith. Let me tell you. It is not! Unbelief is the enemy. And doubt is not unbelief. It is uncertainty. I can honestly say that if I had never wrestled with doubt in college, I think I probably would’ve never really known Christ.
When looking at doubts about God there are honest doubts and there are dishonest doubts. The trouble is, we’re not always sure ourselves about which doubts we’re expressing. It’s very difficult to assess our own heart.
As long as we deal with doubts honestly they are not an enemy to faith, but can actually propel us toward God in a new way.
But the problem is even worse that we might realize.
A recent study found that nearly 95 percent of teenagers in America have access to a smartphone. In the past, young people encountered skepticism primarily from their friends or from professors in the university. Today, the internet is easily accessed on smartphones and mobile devices, bringing the most ardent skepticism home to the next generation at a very young age. For this reason alone, we should expect the objections from young people to be far more articulate and well researched. Our responses must meet the challenge offered by internet skeptics, and we must start training our youth earlier than ever before.
I bet you’ve got a story of your own about a young ex-believer you love who was raised in the church. We’ve all got a student, son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, niece, or nephew who has walked away from the truth. This isn’t just an anecdotal problem. It’s a national crisis.
We sometimes take the spiritual growth of our kids for granted. Although they may continue to attend church with us, they may be far less committed to (or interested in) Christianity and also be reluctant to share their concerns and doubts. We have to begin asking important questions, even at an early age:
• “What do you think is the most difficult thing to believe about Christianity?”
• “Of all the things the pastor said today, what seemed the most difficult to believe?”
• “What is your biggest question or doubt about Christianity?”
• “What do your skeptical friends say about Christianity?”
These are good questions because they are “open” questions (they can’t be answered with a short “yes” or “no”), and they can serve to launch deeper conversations.
People have collected data on this for over 15 years. And here are some things we can learn.

This Group Is Large

The youngest generation in America is quickly becoming the largest generation in America. Born between 2000 and 2015, school-aged Christians are part of what has been termed ....

“Generation Z” (aka. Gen Z)

Gen Z is projected to very quickly become the largest demographic group in the world (comprising 32 percent of the global population) and is already the single largest media audience in the nation. 4 There’s a reason why the church needs to address the youngest members of our family. They outnumber us, and they are our future.[2]

The Problem Is Real

Gen Z has become the embodiment of an important (and disturbing) trend. Recent surveys and studies reveal that Gen Z is the least religious of all generations in America. In fact, “the percentage of teens who identify as atheist is double that of the general population.” This data is consistent with recent historical data. The number of young people leaving the church over the past twenty years is staggering. According to one study at UCLA, 52 percent of college students reported frequent church attendance the year before they entered college, but only 29 percent continued frequent church attendance by their junior year. 6A variety of studies report that 50 to 70 percent of young Christians walk away from the church by the time they are in their college years. Even those who don’t leave find themselves struggling to believe Christianity is true. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of students in youth groups struggle in their faith after graduation. 8[3]

The Reasons Are Revealing

Researchers have been asking young ex-Christians why they leave the church, and their answers are enlightening. Here are the most popular student responses from four different studies:
“Some stuff is too far-fetched for me to believe.”
“I’m a scientist now, and I don’t believe in miracles.”
“I learned about evolution when I went away to college.”
“There is a lack of any sort of scientific or specific evidence of a creator.”
“I just realized somewhere along the line that I didn’t really believe it.”
“I’m doing a lot more learning, studying, and kind of making decisions myself rather than listening to someone else.” 10
“I realized that religion is in complete contradiction with the rational and scientific world, and to continue to subscribe to a religion would be hypocritical.”
“It no longer fits into what I understand of the universe.”
“I have a hard time believing that a good God would allow so much evil or suffering in the world.”
“I had a bad experience at church with a Christian.”
Do you see what we see? Most of these responses involve some form of unanswered, intellectual skepticism. Young believers struggle to answer tough questions from a Christian perspective. In addition to the intellectual doubts listed here, young ex-believers also cite hypocrisy and bad behavior on the part of fellow Christians. Young people are seeking a reasonable worldview that makes sense of reality. [4]

The Departure Is Early

While it’s tempting to believe that secular universities—influenced by the natural sciences—are the sole reason young believers walk away from the church, the data doesn’t support this claim. Most young people abandon their Christian faith while they are still at home with their parents. Today, incoming college freshmen, when surveyed before they enter college, are three times more likely to report that they are religiously unaffiliated than freshmen who entered college in 1986. Seventy-nine percent of these young people say they walked away from Christianity during their adolescent and teen years. Many reported that they left the faith between the ages of ten and seventeen. 14[5]

The Future Is Still Bright

Despite the ominous findings of recent studies, young people who leave Christianity aren’t necessarily leaving God. Eighty-eight percent of Americans report believing in some kind of God, higher power, or spiritual force, even if that being is not the God of the Bible. Even among those who now claim no religious affiliation, known as “nones,” 17 percent still say they believe in the God as described in the Bible, and 53 percent say they believe in a higher power or spiritual force. Even 18 percent of self-proclaimed atheists say they believe in some kind of higher, spiritual power. Young people who leave the church are still interested in spiritual things. They’re not lost causes. They are willing to listen if we will listen first.
In fact, the act of listening is at the core of the solution. Looking at the data, one might conclude that the church simply needs to do a better job of teaching truth and making the case for Christianity, but that’s only part of the answer. Young people are seeking reasonable explanations and authentic relationships; these are the two inseparable rails that will lead us toward a solution. [6]

A Biblical Way Forward

Relationships are incredibly important. University of Southern California did a massive study on religious faith transmission since 1970. It involves four-generation families of more than 3,500 grandparents, parents, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Regardless of the particular religion, he has found that a warm relationship with the parents, and in particular the father, is the single most important factor in faith transmission. He also has discovered that healthy relationships with grandparents and the wider religious community are important for faith transmission. 16[7]
But here is the reality: kids need more than relationships. Relationships alone are not enough. Christian students will find non-Christian, safe places to hang out once they get to the university. If it’s only about relationships, you can expect students to find a community that will allow them to chase their passions without limitation or condemnation, especially if they’ve already decided Christianity isn’t true. In fact, their desire to chase their passions may be the driving factor in their decision to reject Christianity. That’s what many of us are inclined to do as fallen, sinful humans.[8]
But make no mistake about it, truth alone is not enough either. Factual claims about God (or anything else for that matter) can sound like little more than “Blah, blah, blah” if they are delivered apart from an authentic relationship with someone who truly cares about you. Theology and apologetics can seem empty if we don’t connect truth to how we live.
God calls us to truth and relationship.

Truth grounded in reality and love responding in relationship.

We must have both!!!
Christ possesses and demonstrates the perfect balance between justice and mercy, law and grace. If we want to impact students and teach them the truth about Christianity, we need to do our best to participate in this divine, relational balancing act. This is the approach the apostle Paul took. He shared not only the gospel with the Thessalonians but also his very own life 1 Thessalonians 2:8
1 Thessalonians 2:8 ESV
8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

Make a Commitment

Let the statistics related to Gen Z and their departure from the church sink in a bit. Allow the sobering numbers to ignite a fire in your soul. God has a role for each of us in this time of crisis, even though He is still in complete control. We are called to respond. The apostle Paul understood a similar calling when he wrote his letter to the Colossians. He knew he would have to sacrifice his comfort and his desires to accomplish a greater work. To serve the church as a leader, minister, and steward, he committed himself to the mission: Colossians 1:29.
Colossians 1:29 ESV
29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
Each of us, in our own small way, can contribute to the important work of raising the next generation of Christians if we will simply commit ourselves to the task.[10]

Take On the Tough Issues

The apostle Peter told his readers:
1 Peter 3:15–16 ESV
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
Peter encouraged his readers to defend the truth, but he did so in the context of relationship. We’re commanded to answer the person who is asking the question, rather than simply answer the objection being offered. That’s why Peter told his readers to be gentle and respectful. These characteristics of engagement are both relational and tactical. They help us build healthy relationships from which truth can be proclaimed, and they set the stage so that if we “are slandered, those who revile [our] good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (verse 16).
The connection between truth and relationship is timeless.
“What scientific proof do you have that God exists?”
“Why should I believe in miracles?”
“If evolution is true, why should I believe in God?”
“Why should I trust something on ‘faith’ when I could use ‘reason’?”
“Why should I trust what you or my pastor has to say about Christianity?”
“How is believing in God any different from believing in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny?”
“Why does science seem to contradict the claims of Christianity?”
“Why would an all-powerful, all-loving God allow so much evil in the world?”
“Why should I care about any of this to begin with?”
Are you ready to answer these difficult questions? Most of us aren’t. But the data tells us that these are precisely the kinds of questions we need to be prepared to answer if we want to help young people find the truth and follow the Savior. Don’t let these difficult questions intimidate you. God is bigger than any of these objections, and each question listed here can be answered. Jesus told His followers to be courageous in the face of far greater oppression and resistance.
Matthew 10:16–20 ESV
16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
How much more confident should we be that the Spirit of our Father will speak through us if we are willing to discuss the toughest issues?[11]

Stay Balanced

Finally, recognize the fact that several of the responses from young people are centered on broken relationships (i.e., “I had a bad experience at church with a Christian”). When people don’t believe something we know to be true, it’s easy to lean more toward the proclamation of truth rather than toward the building of relationships. Don’t give in to that inclination. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and commanded him to defend the truth and to “instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines” (1 Timothy 1:3 NASB). But Paul understood the delicate balance between truth and love, doctrine and relationship. He told Timothy that the “goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5 NASB). Our instruction—especially toward those who are younger—is a vehicle for truth, fueled by loving relationships. Our challenge is to avoid tilting our approach too far in either direction.
It shouldn’t surprise us that the secret to Christian education is based on this connection between truth and relationships. The psalmist wrote that the entirety (the sum) of God’s Word is truth (Psalm 119:160), and Jesus described Himself as the truth (John 14:6–7). Truth, from a Christian perspective, emanates, therefore, from a triune God who has been in relationship (with the Son and the Holy Spirit) for all eternity. And He enters into the human race to have a relationship with each one of us (John 17:3). So, as you read this book, remember that our model for teaching apologetics and Christian worldview is anchored and rooted in a uniquely Christian approach that unites truth to relationship, law to grace, justice to mercy.[12]
So the task before us is two fold.
We have to start now and early in training our young people to know what they believe and why. And loving relationships.
Those who are at risk of turning away. We have to pursue them just like Jesus and the parable of the lost sheep. We have to leave the 99 for the one!!!
We ( and the church bears some responsibility for this) have created a culture of despair in our society. And as a result, many people are living lives that do not conform to Reality. And we are losing a generation. So I plead with you to help. Pray, give, help find these young people. There is no easy button for solving this crisis. But the reality of God’s love in true relationships is the only way to begin to reverse this trend!!! We have too! So that the next generation will know God! Let us pray!!
[1]McDowell, S., Wallace, J. W., & Nick, F. (2019). So the next generation will know: preparing young christians for a challenging world. David C Cook.
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