Are We Forever Losing Students Because of How We Present God and His Gospel?

It was a shocking discovery.

What if you discovered on your 30th birthday that something you were raised to believe wasn’t true? For example, what if you were told that the calcium from milk actually caused your bones to become weaker, and not stronger like you were told growing up. You saw a report that contradicted the facts you had believed. Would you discard all the beliefs you were raised to believe, or adapt them to this newly discovered truth?

Here’s what studies show: beliefs are rarely undone.

When your deepest beliefs are contradicted by evidence, your beliefs don’t adapt to the truth, they get stronger in your pre-existing belief.

In other words, you retreat into your previous belief even though the factual evidence says otherwise. This is commonly referred to as the “backfire effect.”

The backfire effect is the #1 reason why youth ministry is so important! If we get it wrong the first time, it may never be undone.

Here’s why ministry to students is SO important: a bad theology of God in a young person can take a lifetime (or longer!) to undo. A wrong and unhealthy view of God enters into every part of our being.  For the record, this is why I think more local churches and denominations should rethink the amount of resources they put into their youth ministry. The best thinkers, teachers and leaders should be investing in our students. Unfortunately, many churches give their students the leftovers. Way too often students get the worst rooms in their church building to meet in, the lowest budget, and the least qualified leaders serving. If we desire to see our churches filled with strong multi-generational leadership, THIS MUST CHANGE!

Various studies are saying that students in America are leaving the Church and the Christian faith in alarming amounts. We can debate varying statistics all day long.  But the question we need to ask ourselves as influencers of students is “Are we losing students because of how we present God and His Gospel?”

Two years ago our staff at Never The Same watched a talk given by Skye Jethani that helped define our stance about the importance of good theology in working with students. Whether you are a parent or youth worker, take heed: GOOD THEOLOGY MATTERS! Let me encourage you to watch this 24 minute video before you engage in this blog series. This may be the most important blog series we’ve written. Our staff team has come together and will be examining the points in this talk and why they matter to you. Stick with us over the next few weeks as we dive into the MOST IMPORTANT thing you are currently doing to influence students. The question you must ask yourself, “How am I presenting God and His Gospel to the students that I influence?”

For the last 7 years since Never The Same was founded, we’ve been on a campaign to help ministries understand what and how they teach students about God matters more than anything else they do. Many on the outside of youth ministry see the fun, games, parties and trips and don’t comprehend the critical nature of why we absolutely must reach the minds of students so that they can know God’s love for them.

In my work with tens of thousands of students for the last 25 years, this has been their #1 source of dysfunction…absent fathers. (there’s not even a close second)  I tweeted an article recently that was the most insightful piece I can remember on being a father to daughters. The overwhelming evidence shows that the presence of a father matters. When this relationship between a child and their dad is broken, everything else is affected. Even more so with God our Father. Teaching our young people about the perfection of a Heavenly Father who loves them unconditionally is the MOST IMPORTANT thing we can pass along to them.

Please join us in the blog series and evaluate your message about God to your students.

Jeff Eckart, CEO
Never The Same


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