What have you gotten yourself into, Meadows?
Cccccchhhhhhhhh, went the air break on the bus as we finally slowed to a stop. As a figure thundered onto the bus, I began to realize what exactly I had gotten myself into.
The six-foot-three drill instructor before us looked more like a tall stack of bricks than a human. His slacks and shirt were pressed, completely free of wrinkles. On the shirt were two and a half rows of ribbons; on the sleeve, three strips with crossed rifles in the middle. The stern look on his chiselled face would have scared the fur off a grizzly bear. His cold, dark eyes bored into us, a bus full of young, scared high school graduates
“Eyes on me right now!” he bellowed. “AYE SIR.” demanding that we repeat.
“AYE SIR!” we shouted in unison as if our lives depended on it.
Then the Drill Instructor said,“When I tell you to get off my bus, you will, in a quick, orderly fashion, line up on my yellow footprints. Do you understand?”
“Get off my bus right now!”
I had never moved so fast in my life. Together we booked it to the worn and faded yellow footprints, which barely showed up on the concrete near the silver hatch outside. However, some recruits weren’t quick enough for the drill instructor.
“GET ON MY BUS RIGHT NOW!”
We all moved toward the bus but forgot one crucial step.
“WE DON’T WANT TO SAY AYE SIR, EH? GET ON MY YELLOW FOOTPRINTS RIGHT NOW!”
Back and forth we moved, from the bus to the yellow footprints to the bus and back again. We got the message: anything and everything the instructor said demanded a response. No wonder they don’t show this in the commercials, I thought to myself. If they did, no one would join.
In retrospect, boot camp was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in my life. I don’t regret any of it because without it I wouldn’t be able to write this book or be alive. See, here is the thing about boot camp, at the moment it is challenging but it gives every Marine, no matter what they go on to do in the Marine Corps the foundation to be an effective fighter. Even the guys who go and play in the Marine Corps band can hit any target from 500 yards. Basic training Is the essential building block for every Marine.
When I think about the current and past generations of young adults who’ve grown up in the church, I can’t help but think they’re operating without having the basic building blocks of defending the faith. Many times when asked, “Why do you believe what you believe?” the common answers I come across are, “Because I had an experience at bible camp,” “I grew up in a Christian home,” or “My parents raised me that way.” These answers often go unchallenged in church culture, but let me ask this question, If you asked a Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist, or someone of the myriad of world religions, “why do you believe what you believe” and they gave the previous answers, would you accept that? Most Christians would say no and therein lies the problem. How is it that we can accept such answers for ourselves but not from others? If our answers look like everyone else’s, don’t we need better answers?
Furthermore, the statistics bear out that the current generation is more prone to drop their faith more frequently now than at any other time in our countries history. Here is just a brief overview:
- The number of young adults who identify as an atheist has doubled.
- 36% of those born after 1996 have no religious affiliation.
- 1 in 10 Youth Ministers have classes related to science and religion.
- 20 years ago 18% of skeptics were under the age of 30. Today, that percentage is 34%.
The bullet points above may be numbers and facts but they are much more. They’re brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, grandkids. Those numbers translate into emotionally distraught parents and church families.
My fear is that so many students are in a war without realizing it. And in not realizing it, they don’t have the basic building block to defending their faith. It isn’t their fault, it is ours and we have to correct it. What we have been doing isn’t working, the days of answering tough questions with, “Just have faith” or “God works in mysterious ways” doesn’t work. Gen Z is the most skeptical generation we’ve ever had, therefore, if we’re going to convince them of the truth of the Gospel of Christ, we need to have real answers for genuine objections to the Christian faith. We need to supply them with the basic building block and training. If we don’t, we’re telling them to fight a war without the necessary training and weapons.
Think about it, what if someone signed up for the Marines, bypassed basic training and was dropped into battle during WWII, Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan? What would the survivability probability be? Low. A Marine who can’t defend himself can’t help his fellow Marines or anyone else. The same is true for Christian young adults. Now more than ever apologetics can no longer be an event on church calendars, but should be infused into the bloodstream of the church.