When an organization like CMI talks about how their work directly relates to the youth issues of today, it’s likely that many will think it could just be a ministry ‘pushing its own barrow’. Even friends of CMI might think that it’s understandable that a ministry tries to highlight issues that justify its own relevance or existence.
That’s why we take especial notice when a totally unrelated Christian researcher discovers this issue for themselves—and even seems surprised by it, whether or not they have yet fully connected the dots as to why.
This is what happened when Ruth Lukabyo, Church History and Evangelism Lecturer at Sydney’s (Australia) Youthworks College, conducted a recent survey. These were 208 youngsters aged 11–14 from 11 different public (government) schools around Sydney, Australia.1 In that state of New South Wales, parents (as at the date of writing, anyway) may permit their children to opt in to a Christian religious education session. Permitted, though not funded, by the state, this is called ‘scripture class’ or just ‘scripture’. The parents of these so-called ‘scripture kids’ were likely (though not necessarily) Christians.
Lukabyo says that she would have therefore expected them to be “fairly well informed about the Christian faith”. The sorts of questions which Christian youth workers like her think are important for this sort of youngster, she says, are ones like, ‘Did Jesus rise from the dead?’, or ‘Why doesn’t God want us to have sex before marriage?’. But these types of questions turn out to be surprisingly absent from the list of what the young people themselves say most concerns them.
Instead, says Lukabyo, the survey shows that youth workers “should be dealing with the more foundational questions first”. They should not assume any of the basics. She says that these ‘church children’ (this could be your children and grandchildren) can’t even be assumed to believe that there is a God. Her survey found that the four top questions in their minds concerned such basic things as God’s existence and character. Of these, a full three out of four were questions that CMI deals with directly and continually, and are featured in our Creation Answers Book, i.e.:
- How can I know that God exists?
- How can I believe in a good God when there is so much suffering?
- Doesn’t evolution prove that God doesn’t exist?
She also refers to a book2 surveying the religious beliefs of Generation Y (born after 1980), which showed that less than 50% of that group even believed that there was any sort of God, and that the single biggest reason that this generation gave for loss of faith was “doing further study, especially science” (emphasis added).
The questions listed above from Lukabyo’s survey were chosen from a list provided. But her survey also gave the young people the chance to write down any other questions they had.
She provides a list of the most popular four of these as well—questions that she said came up repeatedly. Here, too, a full three out of four are right in CMI’s ball park. These are:
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