“Can anyone actually prove that Jesus died and came back to life?”
“If your God is so good, then why is my life so hard?”
If you’re a Christian, you’ve probably been faced with questions such as these at least once in your life. We live in an age that demands hard facts and evidence before something can be labelled as The Truth. In its simplest form, faith means trusting that something is, even though you cannot necessarily prove it… so it’s no surprise that there seems to be less and less space for Christianity in the 21st century.
When we decide to follow Jesus, it’s inevitably going to make some waves. Making an intentional choice to live counter-culturally can be an extremely daunting prospect no matter our stage of life. For young Christians, however, the worldly consequences of putting God first can seem especially earth-shattering. In some situations, targeted jokes and copping flack for going to youth group instead of a Friday night party make up the worst of it. In other situations, choosing God can see kids faced with isolation, ridicule (from both friends and family) and the constant, nagging thought of, “Is this really worth it?”
In Australia, it’s estimated that over 50,000 teenagers and young adults walk away from their faith every year. To put this into perspective: that’s approximately 500,000 empty pews. In 2020, Edith Cowen University carried out a study that aimed to figure out why so many young Christians ‘give up’ on God after graduating from high school. One reason given time and time again was that a lot of people ‘found that things they never questioned when they were younger began to make less sense’. If we don’t take the time to question, challenge and personally explore our faith, how can our religion ever become relational? And what hope do we have of defending and explaining our beliefs to others if we don’t really understand them ourselves?
To be clear: apologetics doesn’t mean apologising for being a Christian. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. The word apologetics originates from the Greek word apologia, which translates to ‘an answer given in reply’. Christian apologetics is the intellectual defense of Christianity’s core truth and validity, and without this, it can be extremely difficult to live as a Christian in a non-Christian world. If our goal is to uphold and share our counter-cultural faith, we need to fully understand what we believe, and be able to explain why we believe it.
Apologetics is incredibly important when it comes to living the Christian life, and it’s something that young Christians need the opportunity to engage with before they step out into the ‘real world’, not afterwards. And while introducing a bunch of teenagers to methods of intellectual theological defense might seem like a massive task, a solid understanding how to hold God’s Word in one hand and current culture in the other can be the difference between a faith that ends with high school and one that continues to grow.
Onward Youth is a one-night apologetics conference for high schoolers and people who work in youth ministry. This year, we’ll be tackling a massive question: Doesn’t Christianity crush diversity?
Christianity is often seen as being judgemental and biased, welcoming some types of people and excluding others. As Christians, we’re inevitably going to cross paths with people whose lives look very different from our own or might not line up with how the Bible instructs us to live. How can we best relate to these people? How can we respond when their values or opinions oppose our faith? And how can young Christians feel prepared for these situations before they actually occur?
Onward22 will be happening on Friday, June 24th at The Concourse in Chatswood, NSW. Our 2022 speakers Dave Jensen and Amy Orr-Ewing are ready to share both their Biblical knowledge and life-learned advice, and our brand-new 2022 DEEP DIVE sessions are here to help you fully explore what it means to believe in Jesus, and how to carry this belief out into the world.
For more information, visit us at https://www.onwardevent.com
 Young, J. (2015). Haemorrhaging faith: why young people are leaving the church.
 Mullen, T. (2020). Young people and the Baptist church: Staying and leaving. https://ro.ecu.edu.au/ theses/2304