July 23, 2009 // 02:03 pm // Comments Closed // Share This

Why Students Don’t ‘Get It’

If Christian Smith and Melinda Denton are correct, our key concern in regards to the next generation is that they "get" Christianity. Our primary focus should turn from whether Christian students like church, or whether they think of Jesus as their best friend, or even whether they know why they believe what they believe (though that has been a useful tag line for Summit Ministries for years). Primarily, if Smith and Denton are correct, our focus should be teaching them what Christianity is because, simply put, they don't get it. My experience working with students, most having strong histories in conservative evangelicalism (and representing almost evenly home, private Christian, and public schooling), suggests Smith and Denton are right. I often hear students describe their experience of Christianity in these terms: "I've been a Christian my whole life, but I don't really get it." Or, "I prayed the prayer when I was four, but I don't think it stuck." Or, "I committed my life to Christ when I was fifteen, but I am not sure it stuck." How is it that students who are so deeply engrossed in church culture and who have more access to the Bible, Christian literature, youth programs, and other resources than any generation that has lived since the founding of the church, can be so confused about what Christianity actually is and why it matters? How is it that they possess such a truncated, neutered view of the Kingdom? How is it that these students just don't "get it?"