a great thought about the heart and my job among students

My job is in a high school. I try to teach seniors about God. I have been saying for a good deal of time that quite often, the reason so many young people “leave” the faith (Christian… uh.. evangelical-?ish??) in college is because it was not a real faith of their own to them to start with. This book I’m reading speaks to the point of this topic:

“I would suggest that in most cases he has not forsaken his faith. In reality, his faith was the faith of his parents; he simply lived within its limits while he was still at home. When he went away to school and those restraints were removed, his true heart was revealed. He had not internalized the faith. He had not entrusted himself to Christ in a life-transforming way. He did the “Christian” things he was required to do at home, but his actions did not flow from a heart of worship. In the college culture, he had nothing to anchor him, and the true thoughts and motives of his heart led him away from God. College was not the cause of his problem. It was simply the place where his true heart was revealed. The real problem was that faith never took root in his heart.” (Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, p.64)

I have not heard this stated quite as succinctly as this. This is what I have observed and suspected for a long time but not read put quite this way. Herein is the answer to seek to reach hearts with the Gospel. Nothing new here, just affirmation of what we knew to be true. I just wish I could generate some conversation about this. Maybe I can get something started through Facebook with some twenty-somethings. I would love to hear the agreements and disagreements from people who are close to this topic and have been there recently.


Filed under culture

14 responses to “a great thought about the heart and my job among students

  1. Liz D.

    It’s a pretty tangled topic, as we both know students who are deeply faithful from a young age and students who are merely mimicking “the faith of their parents” only to jettison it at the first opportunity or first sign of pressure. Fred Edie (Director of Duke Youth Academy) and others are suggesting that one way to address this problem is to move away from the adventure-centered or experience-centered youth education (which are too individual and relativistic) and toward a practice of the faith of the church – – bath (baptism), table (communion), book (Bible) and time (the ordering of our days and keeping the Sabbath). I think he’s on to something. Yes, we need to get students talking about what they believe and why, but we also need to get them LIVING as their lives will show us (and them) what they believe and give them food for the thought. It’s thus a cycle of living and pondering and discussing and modifying and being modified by the sanctifying work of the Spirit. The church needs to talk about the sacraments (or explain why have so little importance in a specific congregation), we need to give students opportunities to live and to reflect (mission trips, days of service, etc.), and plenty of reading and learning as well. I might just be pushing you out of the hallway and into some rooms.

  2. revtom

    I like the sound of this. As V says and Lewis before him (you did bring up the ‘hallway’). We cannot live in the hallway. I remember our discussing this and I want to hear more of it. Hmmmm… in chapel perhaps??????? Peace to You.

  3. Becca

    I am constantly teeter tottering with this subject. I had a unique experience post high-school, post private Christian school, post sheltered life. My unique experience began with attending to a private Catholic University…and not being Catholic.

    First things first, only about 20% of the students were practicing Catholics (my own estimate). Secondly, Campus Ministry was attractive to Catholic students but in my opinion it wasn’t so much to non Catholics. I did make an effort to be involved and try it out for my first year, but I just never felt entirely comfortable. It was the only religious organization that involved students to grow deeper in their faith. Unlike other public Universities we did not have RUF, Houses for each demonination, etc. It was “Campus Ministry” or you’re on your own.

    I found a church with a dear friend that was not Catholic and we were able to share that expereince together throughout our four years. But being in college and not having a car, relying on someone else making it to church every week was not as easy as it seems.

    With that said, I too, like many college students strayed FAR off the path. Church was something I went to when it was convienent, I only had one close friend that I knew was a Christian. I had no one to hold me accountable nor to encourage me to pursue my faith. It wasn’t until after college that I was able to really connect back into my relationship with God. I started regularly attending church and am now in a small group which has given me a group of girls to hold me accountable.

    Although what Tripp says is very true and probably hits the nail on the head with many students, I believe it is also because of the lack of resources and lack of Christian leadership within the school, but most of all TEMPTATION. I had “interalized faith”. It was the temptations and lifestyles that college throws at you that makes it difficult. And without the people that hold you accountable it is easy to slip into the lifestyle of a typical college student.

    This is all my own opinion and from my own expereince. I had a lot of Catholic friends that would not have made it without Campus Ministry and thrived through the fellowship they provided. It just was not for me.

  4. Joanna

    Where do I start. It was only 8 years ago that I left the “nest” of home, private education, and church to gander out on my own. The whole time I was “wordly” for lack of better words I knew that I was doing wrong. I chose to ignore it. I think that I had my faith but it was more to please those around me. I mean I had a reputation to fufill but I didn’t realize the weakness of it until I was on my own. I travelled down the wrong paths, and made a lot of mistakes. When put into situations like missions trips, service, or among other believers I always wanted to do better. I dunno.. So finnaly I made it my heart, my own, my personal faith in God. It is different than my parents. Its different than my friends. I know where I stand in Christ.

    I look at my students, in Hungary, and i wonder, what is their faith. We are beginning to talk about these things. why do they cling so strongly to the athieism or the I dont care, I don’t believe in anything? I don’t have the answers but I know that many of them have no clue about Faith and I KNOW they put on that they want nothing to do with religion…

    some thoughts for now.

  5. revtom

    so far Liz is certainly right about this being a “tangled topic.” Thanks ladies for your input and honsety. I am seeking the ideas of others to join the chorus of your voices.

  6. Laci and Keri Németh

    no idea… over here we do not have the privilege of hearing about GOD in our schools…
    So I envy all of you for that…


  7. Anonymous

    I feel that it is pretty accurate. I grew up in a Christian home with all of the “cute Christian rules” and the moment I was taken away from that atmosphere I had to decifer on my own what my faith was. Was it something my parents had created for me? Was Christianity null and void without them telling me how to live it? How to “do it.” Even at this very moment, each day, I’m having to step out of my parents’ faith and into my own. Finding my validity in Christ, and not my family. 🙂 Hope this helped!

    -Kelsea E.

  8. revtom

    Thanks Kelsea! I appreciate your thoughts. von Lazo, this is a big deal for the church in America, not just the schools. I’m hoping more twenty-somethings will weigh in…

  9. Arden

    I’m not a 20-something but I work with 20 somethings from various cultures…all that people have shared here is true, so sadly true. I believe the tangled-ness involves the reality of the spiritual battle, which we, for the most part in western culture, “talk” well enough about and quote Ephesians well, but the experience of the reality of the fact that satan hates every single one of us and wants to steal, kill and destroy and will use any means and pull out all stops to get his way is a very, very real reality that, for some reason, some of us are either afraid to address because we will sound too radical or charismatic or we simply don’t “get it.” I don’t pretend to “get it”, but that is a huge factor in this tangled web that I believe we need to return to the Scriptures and SEE with fresh eyes, primarily in the Gospels, the REALITY of what Jesus was dealing with when He was here and ask ourselves do we really believe that when we are born again in Him that, as HE said, “we will do even greater things than He did”? In another, even more radically departing vein from my typical background and upbringing, have we really dealt with our own sin of judging, specifically, judging our parents? God commanded us to honor our parents, but in my own journey, I realize I’ve not only not honored them but have judged them and as Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount, in the same measure we judge, we will be judged. What we reap what we sow. So, if I’ve judged, I’ve planted seeds that will grow back into my own heart. This is a heavy, deep topic that cannot be dealt with sufficiently in a blog comment space, but some food for thought. Finally, go listen to Creflo Dollar’s series on “Growing Up”….he answers a LOT of these comments and questions.

  10. revtom

    thanks Arden for this, it is good to turn the diamond and look from another perspective… I really appreciate what you said about judging… it is such an important thing for us all to pray about… thank you for, like others herein, your honesty.

  11. Anonymous

    chiming in late…as usual. my two cents would be that we so often make our “faith” about what we do. i think most kids at TCS (or at a school like TCS) would put Christianity in the “it’s about how you act” category. (I know that we teach against it, but it’s a huge part of our culture at large…) I think, Tom, that you teach about Praxis. And I think that’s key. “Faith w/o works is dead.” True. But only only works that proceed out of a true heart-change really matter. And they’re not of us. They’re the fruit (alone) of our Father’s re-shaping us.
    That’s part of what service projects, and short-term missions, offer. A chance to get outside of “what you have always believed is true” and to bounce new ideas around, (hopefully) without abandoning any foundation for the reality of truth.
    I think that what often happens when Good Christian Kids go off the the Pagan World of Academia is that they don’t have any structures for their ideas and questions to bounce back from. At least not structures that offer Truth and Meaning. AND there’s the huge temptation to just let it all slide. It’s not worth the effort to THINK seriously about it. (I know that lots of TCS kids DO think seriously–but our culture presses us to just accept the status quo, or to buffer ourselves in a bubble, or to “self-medicate” so that the questions just go away…)

    Don’t know if this advances that conversation, but it’s a bit of stream-of-consciousness response. Peace beyond comprehension be yours, my friend.

    Mark S

    ps. What’s Liz DeG got to say? Would love her perspective on it.

  12. J.R.

    I agree with you, revtom. Glad you are posting thoughts on this. Yes, tangled, but necessary questions to be asking. Thanks for asking them.

    I read this morning from an author who stated clearly, “meaning motivates people, period.” This made me wonder what meaning is provided in life, experiences, education, conversations, relationships.

    In this conversation, what meaning is given to the heart in education, more specifically in Christian high school education?

    As I look back on my experience one of the factors that would have been helpful for me would be to have been given explicit PERMISSION to ask questions outside the realm of what was ‘expected’ or required. To borrow a term from the military, is there permission to speak freely about faith issues?

    And are there assignments given that are beyond ‘academic’ assignments? Is it all book stuff or are there experiences outside of the classroom that can contribute to the heart process? What are the heart exercises and experiences that can come alongside the classroom experience?

    If trust exists enough to respect one another in the realm of permission to wrestle with these faith issues ‘out loud’ I believe this will help to access some of the heart issues.

  13. revtom

    Thanks Mark and JR. Mark, Liz was the first to weigh in… I appreciate your taking time to weigh in. Mark, I think you are right on with the heart, that is the theme to what Tripp is saying… I guess as I am considering all this conversation, I am beginning to wonder about the place of accountabilty and relationship in helping the heart drive us to keep following Jesus when we feel like we are the only one.

  14. Virginia

    I think a lot of highschoolers (especially in Christian schools) say they believe because they’ve been brought up and surrounded by the faith. When they get to college, suddenly they’re on their own with a bunch of people who aren’t Christians. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to stand up for what you believe in. And some people aren’t sure in the first place.

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