Your kids need a dose of Reality – the Reality Student Apologetics Conference!
According to the Fuller Youth Institute, 70% of Christian high school students have serious doubts about Christianity. In fact, 3 out of 5 Christian students have checked out of their faith by the age of 15 . . .15!
Gone are the days when you just needed to prepare your kids to encounter atheism in college. Now, they are encountering anti-God sentiments in preschool television shows and elementary schools. And for full-blown atheistic arguments, yeah, they are getting those around 11 (while Sunday schools are still singing Father Abraham). So, unless you put your kid in a bubble, they are going to confront atheistic or heretical views at younger and younger ages.
What are parents and youth leaders to do?
Equip your kids with solid Biblical worldview and apologetics training.
Apologetics doesn’t have to be a separate entity. It can just be part of how you do life as a family or part of your regular youth group meetings.
But no matter how well you’re equipping your youth, it’s always beneficial to get outside support. Somehow, kids can hear you say something a hundred times, but it doesn’t stick until someone else says it too. This is where a student apologetics conference can come alongside what you’re already doing at home or with your youth, and the Reality Student Apologetics conference is one of the best.
This spring, my daughter and I traveled to Augusta, Georgia to attend Stand to Reason’s Reality Student Apologetic conference. After hearing about it for years, I was so excited to finally be able to make the trip.
Why should you take your students to the Reality Conference?
1. The content is STRAIGHT FIRE (for the over-30 crowd, that means really cool)
The conference started Friday evening with worship by the band Heritvge (and no, that’s not a typo), then had an upbeat talk show style format Tim Barnett (a.k.a. “Mr. B” of Red Pen Logic) and Alan Shlemon were the “hosts.” They joked around, shared funny videos, and then introduced each guest. The guests were people like Mary Jo Sharp (Why I Still Believe), J. Warner Wallace (Cold Case Christianity), and others. Each guest was interviewed briefly, then spoke for about 15 minutes.
One funny video that really made an impact was about how Sunday School doesn’t always cover the whole Bible story. Kids can handle more than we often give them credit for. While we shouldn’t necessarily tell every gory detail to three-year-old kids, as our kids age, they need to be in the whole Bible. Biblical literacy is crucial for Christians and has been in steep decline for decades.
When we leave out difficult details or don’t discuss the tough topics, we open the door to doubt and deconstruction.When we leave out difficult details or don’t discuss the tough topics, we open the door to doubt and deconstruction. Click To Tweet
The speakers kept it simple but didn’t dumb anything down for the kids. Presentations were on the reliability of the Resurrection and New Testament, how we can believe in a God we can’t see, and why Jesus is still relevant today—which is why the conference made such an impact. It tackled all the topics teens wrestle with most. And you know what? The kids were enthralled the entire time, because they could see why their beliefs mattered. An impressive feat as anyone in education knows!
2. The serious topics were not sugarcoated.
While the talk-show style kept things fun and upbeat, the topics were relevant to what kids are facing today: church hurt, hypocrisy, tragedy, atheism, skepticism, depression, and doubt.
At the “Ask the Apologist” table, Amy Hall masterfully helped students wrestle through challenging topics. In her session on church hurt, Mary Jo Sharp discussed how she learned Jesus is still good even when people reflect Him poorly. Even the illusionist Drew Worsham was able to weave his incredible talents into a discussion on suffering and the importance of having strong faith in God through difficult circumstances.
The speakers also tackled culturally volatile topics like tragedy, suicide, and abortion – all while equipping kids with the critical thinking skills needed to wisely process such important life topics.
Teens really appreciated the “pull no punches” approach because every one of us will someday walk a difficult road of trusting God in dark times. As each speaker shared intensely personal stories and dances with doubt, the students learned apologetics can help them land solidly in the arms of Jesus no matter what they face.
3. The fellowship will strengthen and encourage the kids in your life.
We cannot underestimate our teens’ need for physical human connection. Screens and social media have divided and disconnected them from each other in so many ways. They don’t even realize they are missing the rich relationships many of us remember from our youth.
And teens are peer driven in ways that even the best adult relationships can’t always fulfill. Spending a weekend surrounded by other kids who are worshipping God, seeking truth, and dedicated to finding answers is more than uplifting. It’s life-giving.
Kids swarmed the speakers and enthusiastically pounced on books they wanted to read. (Kids voluntarily reading books that weren’t assigned by a teacher? You know God is all over that!) I loved hearing their excited discussions about these vital topics. Clearly, they wanted to absorb it all.
Not only were students empowered in their own faiths, but they were emboldened to reach out to the hurting kids in their lives back home, sharing the reasons for the hope that is in them. (1 Peter 3:15)
They were almost as inspired by each other as they were by the testimonies of the various speakers. We didn’t meet a stranger all weekend. Everyone felt a tremendous sense of belonging and purpose.
My own daughter left with her faith radically strengthened. She spent the weekend surrounded by kids just like her who want to believe and know God is real. Fellowship really matters.
So did the speakers’ commitment to transparency about their own traumas and doubts. Kids crave authenticity. Following my husband’s tragic suicide, we’ve walked a difficult path of learning to trust in God in the midst of intense personal tragedy. It’s hard to believe in a good God with a broken heart.
But God orchestrated this conference powerfully to meet her exact needs. She came home encouraged through hearing from different people with different stories, facing different challenges, how they all found the same good God as the best answer for why the world is the way it is.
The Reality conference will have a different theme starting in September “Man or Maker: Who Says Who You Are?” Kids are struggling with identity more today than ever before. Our identity is wrapped around our entire worldview; I can’t think of a timelier topic.
We at Mama Bear Apologetics highly recommend the Reality Conference. Here’s a list if you’d like to find the closest location to you. Some already have early bird specials! I know my daughter and I are already looking forward to next year’s conference. Hopefully, we will see you there!
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