By WCS Headmaster Dr. Roger Erdvig
One of the aims that WCS has for our students and graduates is that they will be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. This is a core element of why we exist as a school. However, shaping the heart of a young disciple is becoming harder and harder. From the intense pressure to conform to the spirit of the age, to the pervasive impact of the digital universe, we are in an uphill battle.
Recent research suggests that the number of young adults in the U.S. who identify as followers of Christ is rapidly shrinking year after year. 64% of young adults who grew up in church have dropped out of (and sometimes back into) church. The number of teens who identify as atheists has doubled in the last year. And this impacts their core beliefs. Consider this—most teens in the US believe that not recycling is more evil than viewing pornography. Only 10% of young adults who consider themselves Christian actually have a robust, life-shaping faith in Christ.
Have I convinced you yet of the uphill battle that WCS, our families, and our churches are facing? (Read about these stats and more at https://www.barna.com/category/millennials-generations/)
But, there is good news. Researchers David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock have extensively studied today’s Christian landscape, and they have discovered ways that we can cultivate robust faith in our students and young adults. They’ve written about what they’ve learned in a new book, Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus in Digital Babylon.
I’ll just pick one concept from their book to share with you. As the authors probed the faith lives of exemplary Christian young adults, this is what they found: “They want to get their hands dirty. Churches, schools, and families that ask more of young men and women and give them meaningful opportunities to be engaged are indispensable to their spiritual growth.” You read that right. Young people today crave being involved in real work, in the real world, with real people, solving real problems.
WCS is responding by adjusting how we teach to include more opportunities for authentic service. But this is not just random “community service.” It will be service that is directly connected to what students are learning in the classroom. In fact, we envision a day when students understand that they are learning SO THAT they can serve. Learning in the U.S. has become a self-focused endeavor—students learn so that they can get a better grade, so that they can earn a higher GPA, so that they can get into a more competitive college, so that ultimately, they can get a better paying job. It’s all about “me.”
According to Faith for Exiles, this works against vibrant faith in Christ, and the remedy is simple: challenge students to serve others with what they’re learning. Give them a big mission to accomplish. Call them out and equip them as influencers who can actually do something to impact the culture. The good news is that young people want to be involved in something worthwhile and we simply need to raise our expectations and provide opportunities for them to be creators instead of merely being consumers.
In the months ahead, we will continue to share vision about the direction God is leading WCS. Yes, we exist in a dark, anti-Christian culture. But God is still calling us and our children to thrive with authentic faith as we partner with Him to bring His good news to every sphere of the culture.
Cultivating godly influencers
Wilmington Christian School provides a distinctively Christian, innovative education that effectively develops Godly influencers who are well prepared for life after high school and who impact the culture for Christ.