Reason to Believe

“Zack, I need to tell you something,” one of the girls from my youth group whispered nervously to me.  I was in my typical Sunday-morning-hurry-up-mode and was just about to enter the sanctuary to help lead that morning’s worship.  But she seemed so very agitated that I knew I needed to stop and listen.  She continued solemnly.  “I have decided to renounce Christ.”  I tried not to let the shock to my heart spread to my face and give away my dismay.  It’s never an easy thing to hear from a student.  Plus, I was a “rookie” youth minister, having only been full-time for a year.  I stuttered and stumbled.  How should I respond?  I had five minutes until the service started!

“Okay…” I said, buying a moment to collect my thoughts.  “That’s a pretty big decision.  Before you do that can we meet?  I just want to hear how you came to that decision.”  Thankfully, she agreed.  For the next five weeks we met to discuss her wrestling with faith.  I discovered that she was having doubts about her doubts, but her boyfriend, who was an atheist, had had her tied up in knots, logically.  So we just started from the beginning.  I let her talk.  I let her ask questions.  I tried to offer her answers where there were answers.  I really didn’t know if we were making any progress.

The first scene repeated itself some weeks later.  There she was, just before I entered the sanctuary, but this time she handed me a note, smiled and walked away.  I didn’t know what it would say.  Was she fully renouncing Christ?  I opened it cautiously…nervously.  The ruled pages contained two words, centered on the page:  “I believe”.  That student is now in her mid twenties and her faith is still active and it is her own.

After that experience, I realized there was something that I wasn’t doing in my area of ministry.  I wasn’t addressing doubt.  Teenagers have questions and my teaching of “doctrine” (while all well and good) did not also make time for addressing their doubts.

The 12th Grade Apologetics Series here at the Church of The Apostles is designed as an attempt to ask some of those questions.  As seniors transition into college, new ideas will be encountered, faith will be tested.  The Apologetics Series begins the conversation that I feel is necessary for every student to, at some point, begin to have.  That conversation is between the student and the teacher, the student and their spiritual mentors, the student and his or her parents, but ultimately (and most importantly) between the student and Christ.  There are four weeks remaining for the apologetics class.  If you are a senior in high school and you would like to begin that conversation, make plans to join us on Sundays at 9:15 AM in the Den.  If you’d like more information (or you just have a question) you can contact me at or on facebook at

~Zack Carden, College & Transition Pastor

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