Stepping out of the Johnson and Wales’ vans, our students arrived excited for Fusion. They anticipated an enjoyable weekend at the Cape with peers, forging new friendships across New England and being freshly encouraged that they are not alone in their faith. They entered the hotel and conference center with high expectations for Word-saturated teaching and fun times. Amid games in the lobby, mealtimes and World Series watching, students had their fill of living out relationships and learning how to invest in them.
We regularly hear opposing voices regarding singleness and marriage. Culture tends to dismiss marriage—usually to promote carefree living characterized by cohabitation, non-commitment and selfishness. Conversely, the Church tends to promote marriage over singleness to the point where anyone is inferior if he or she is not married by the end of college.
I was speaking to a large group of middle schoolers. Knowing that few of them came from what my generation would consider the “traditional” family, I was trying to get them to discuss what it was like when their parents got divorced and how they could move beyond the pain of that experience. Clearly, I was not connecting well to the group. One young man, Kyle*, was sitting on the front row. He spoke up, saying, “Terry, my parents are not divorced. They were never married. I’ve only met my father once when I was little, and I don’t really remember him.”
This past year I had the opportunity to be a part of the Quest program. Quest is a leadership development program for high school juniors that provides opportunities to grow in faith, leadership skills, service and team building in order to better equip us as godly leaders in our churches and communities. The culmination of this advantageous program is an overseas mission trip. Students were sent to four different locations: South Africa, Hawaii, Scotland and the Dominican Republic. I was chosen along with eleven other students to go to the Dominican Republic. When I was told who would be on my team I have to say I was slightly confused. Everyone on my team seemingly had extremely different personalities and interests, and I was under the impression that none of us had anything in common.
She stopped by our table on UDay at the University of New Hampshire. She was curious about our sign that described the use of reason and philosophy to explore the Christian worldview. She shared that she grew up in church and had been very active in youth group. However, since she came to UNH she had grown cold to Christianity and doubted that it was any different from any other religion. Her story is not unique. According to Lifeway, 70% of Christian students walk away from church during their collegiate years. While a minority of them return, they often return jaded from their experience and with a shallow faith.