July 24, 2007

Leading a Worldview StudyThe Experiences of One College Student

Note: The following was written by a student who graduated from one of Summit's Student Worldview Conferences last year. Through sharing her own experiences, she encourages her fellow Summit graduates to overcome their doubts and fears and take the initiative for leading a worldview study on their campus.

As students, we have the potential to change our schools, state, and the world in a way that no other person can. I am currently a college junior, and from my experiences in the university and while studying abroad, I've realized that the college years are when we develop the beliefs that we will most likely adhere to for the rest of our lives.

However, developing a coherent set of beliefs can be a very confusing task because we are constantly bombarded with various worldviews and ideas, not only from the lecture hall, but also from the media, our peers, and society. It's as if each of our minds is like a backyard that we are trying to keep clean and grow healthy fruit trees in, but we can't, because foreign seeds are constantly being thrown in from the outside, and they grow into large weeds. Without careful maintenance, they might even cover the entire backyard.

This dilemma may not seem too serious — ideas are just ideas, right? I thought so too, but in college, I have seen so many of my peers renounce the beliefs or morals of their youth as a result of an initial idea, a seed, for something else that they think is true, but actually isn't. Their new thoughts and ideas take them captive, and they are either unable to accept the Gospel or become the light on the hill that Christians are commanded to be. Their fruit trees cannot grow because there are just too many weeds.

After I realized how important it was to learn more about God's comprehensive truth and share this knowledge with others, I led several worldview small groups and initiated a book club. I have been able to utilize the information I learned from these experiences at the most unexpected places — in my English class, Los Angeles, Hungary, England, and even Asia. I have grown to become a Christian who is confident in my beliefs and wiser because of it — I can identify worldviews and hidden assumptions more quickly and am better equipped to share God's truth with others.

I didn't think that anyone would actually want to come to a worldview discussion group. I first began a group during the summer after high school graduation, and it was only through the prodding of my mother that I made a list of the people I wanted to call and dialed their numbers with trepidation. To my surprise, every person I called wanted to come. For approximately twice a week for the next six weeks, we met in my living room, watched Summit lectures and had discussions about each of the major worldviews and several current issues, such as naturalistic evolution and abortion. Some of the participants were Christian, some were questioning, and one was an agnostic, but almost all of them came every single week. One person even drove from more than forty minutes away.

The group's success had nothing to do with my wealth of knowledge or amazing leadership skills. I had never led a group like that before, and while I did prepare for each lesson — I ended up reading all of Dr. Noebel's Understanding the Times — I was still learning much of the information along with them. I realized that this small group was successful because it provided a way for friends to get together in an informal setting and learn about topics that were very relevant for us.

I led another worldview group in my dorm room during my sophomore year of college. I bought seven egg-shaped chairs — they turned out to be a perfect fit, even though the store picture suggested that they were intended for toddlers. I was again surprised that so many people could come, and as a result, every Wednesday night, my small room was full of people sitting on the bed, egg chairs, and the floor. We watched the lectures from a 17" television screen. Although each meeting was intended to only last for an hour, we sometimes finished three hours later. As our discussions progressed, more and more people began to see how applicable worldviews were to what they were learning in the classroom and talking about with their friends. For many of us, this was our first opportunity to think about our worldviews and realize that because our God is the creator of the universe, his entire worldview was based on reality. And when we looked at the consequences of different worldviews, we began to see how the truth really could set us free. We were not only able to identify that, yes, we did indeed have weeds in our minds' backyards, but were also able to pull them out, roots and all, and plant fruit trees in their place.

One friend and participant told me at the end of the semester that learning about postmodernism influenced and changed her perception about reality. She was a person who loved God and faithfully read her Bible every day — I often saw her reading as I ran out the door to my 8am class — but after learning about worldviews, she realized that some of her ideas and assumptions were not biblically based and were harmful. She has now read several worldview books, including dense books such as J.P. Moreland's Love Your God with All Your Mind, and is planning to lead a group next semester, even though her Dance major keeps her very busy.

Other past participants of the groups have also realized how important worldview knowledge is and have begun leading groups of their own. One person led a group for an entire semester; I was very impressed, because it was only his second semester of college, and all I had to do was lend him the Summit DVDs and books. My brother has also led several groups. At first, he only focused on one topic. As he gained experience, he added more topics; last spring, he led a group for the entire semester. Currently, because he plans to lead another group in the fall, he is revising his worldview curriculum while studying abroad in Taiwan. He knows people whom I don't, and vice versa, and our topics are slightly different, because each of our groups have different interests. And that is why worldview small groups are so attractive and influential: it is an informal place where we, as students, can meet together to talk about issues that are important to us.

Another friend was someone who was from a Christian background, but gradually rejected Christianity in college. He is an avid learner and an intelligent person, and as a result, he encountered many different worldviews and ideas, some of which were not Christian ideas, but also seemed to make a lot of sense. He came to every worldview session and was very studious, always taking notes, asking questions, and incorporating what he learned. I remember one conversation during a book club meeting, when we were discussing a chapter on morality from C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. Lewis claimed that without God, there can be no moral absolutes, and my friend found that hard to believe. A few years ago, before I had become familiar with worldview assumptions, I would have agreed with him. He mentioned an alternative source of morality: doesn't morality arise from cultural standards that have been established over time? I asked him for a justification: does that mean that we have no basis for condemning anything that other societies practice? He then thought of an explanation — we can establish international laws that benefit the maximum number of people — and I asked him to justify that statement — why is it good to find benefits for the largest number of people? We continued on, until he realized that C.S. Lewis was probably right — absolute morality cannot exist without God.

I studied abroad for a semester — the book club continued to meet during that time — and when I returned, he told me that he had rededicated his life to Christ. I am sure that there were many factors that helped to restore his Christian faith, but I know that the worldview discussions and book club meetings helped to remove a few rocks from his mind's backyard and give the fruit trees more room for growth. He is now also extremely interested in worldviews and is working to start a group of his own and inspire others to do the same. And because several of us are going to be in different parts of the world this summer, he even created a blog for us to share and discuss what God is teaching us. Before leaving for an internship in Washington, D.C., he borrowed eight worldview-related books and the entire set of Summit DVDs from me.

So with this in mind, I would like to encourage you to make the most of all of the information you have learned at the Summit conference. I would especially encourage you to continue learning, and lead a book club or worldview group at your school, university, or at home. When leading the worldview groups, I mainly used resources and book recommendations from Summit. Since you have attended the Summit conference, you are now more knowledgeable than the majority of your peers. High school and college campuses are in need of leaders like you. So have you thought about your summer or semester plans yet? Perhaps you can call a few of your friends and neighbors, and take them along on a life-changing adventure!

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