Originally Published in Flourishing: Volume 1, Issue 1
You want to know what the answer is to having 25 percent of young adults in America being at risk? It is life-on-life relationships.
Isn’t this what the church should really be all about? Isn’t this what Trinity Christian School is all about? True teaching intertwined with caring relationships are, I believe, the reason why young adults, who might otherwise walk away from their faith, are staying in church. They’re getting a really solid biblical worldview that relates to real-world problems, and from people who know and love them.
When you tie truth and relationship together, really cool things begin to happen.
In fact, studies show that young people with an adult mentor are significantly more likely to develop and maintain a Christian worldview beyond college, to apply their faith to life decisions, to live with God-given purpose, and to avoid destructive behaviors. When you tie truth and relationship together, really cool things begin to happen.
I know a lot of people look at the rising generation and despair. They despair that life will be any good for them. They despair that they will be able to solve the big problems we have. Yet when I look at the students who are graduating from Trinity—and like-minded schools around the United States of America—there are reasons to be hopeful.
One reason to be hopeful is the nature of revival. Revivals such as the Second Great Awakening and the Jesus Movement were preceded by apostasy and reduced church attendance in a culture very similar to what we are experiencing in the United States of America right now. Could it be that we are on the brink of another great revival?
Another reason to be hopeful is the power of mentoring. The Barna group says that young adults with adult friends and mentors in church are two and a half to three times more likely to stay in as those who did not have them.
A third reason to be hopeful is biblical worldview training. Young adults who have a biblical worldview that answers society’s challenges are significantly more likely to live out their Christian faith and stay involved in church.
But does this all really matter? There aren’t really that many graduates from Trinity Christian School. There aren’t really that many graduates from Classical Christian schools around the United States of America.
I think this is asking the wrong question. The right question is, what is the quality of the graduate you’re producing? Here’s an example from one of the first colleges in the United States, Nassau Hall. Nassau Hall still stands today, as the centerpiece of Princeton University. When the Scotsman John Witherspoon was president of Nassau Hall, over 28 years, he trained 478 young men. Some years he had as few as seven students. By contrast, Trinity Christian School has 295 students right now, just this year. You want to talk about a tiny Christian school! But Witherspoon taught them a biblical worldview. He taught these young men to think biblically in every area of life and then to step forward and become leaders for the society in which they lived.
Here’s my calculation of what happened to Witherspoon’s graduates: 114 of them became ministers, 49 became United States Representatives, 28 became United States Senators, 26 became State Judges, 17 became members of their State Constitutional Conventions, five became delegates to the Constitutional Convention, three became United States Supreme Court Justices, three became Attorneys General, two became Foreign Ministers, Aaron Burr, Jr. became Vice President and James Madison became President. And James Madison is the father of the United States Constitution.
You see when you take a biblical worldview and you tie it together with Godly relationships, things begin to change.
And it wasn’t just with John Witherspoon; Martin Luther sparked the Reformation by having a small seminary in the town of Wittenberg. His graduates went out under serious persecution. They lived on average a year and a half after graduation. But they knew they were literally giving their lives to spread the gospel and they changed the world.
In Germany in World War II, Dietrich Bonhoeffer formed the secret Finkenwalde seminary after Adolf Hitler banned his official one. Yet as Bonhoeffer applied his faith through this school and his many other works, he maintained a Christianity during one of the darkest times in history.
In the 1970s, when Time Magazine was declaring that God was dead, a pastor from Philadelphia named Francis Schaeffer, went to Switzerland and formed a place called “L’Abri,” meaning “The Shelter.” A significant percentage of the Christian leaders we have in the United States of America today were trained in biblical worldview by Francis Shaeffer at that place.
Somehow, significant leadership training in a specific place, at a specific needful time in history, can change the world.
We at Summit Ministries believe that our antique hotel in Manitou Springs, Colorado is something like this. When our students come through these programs they learn how to stand for truth and fight against evil and injustice. Somehow, significant leadership training in a specific place, at a specific needful time in history, can change the world.
Likewise, Trinity Christian School is such a place. Such schools as Trinity, rightly marking their place in this continuum, utterly deserve our most generous support. What God is doing in Trinity, I believe, is preparing a nerve center for developing future leaders, not only for the city of Prescott, not only for the State of Arizona, but for our country and to the uttermost parts of the earth.
But it all starts here, with you and me. At Summit Ministries, we represent this to ourselves by a lit cross, a neon cross. Somebody, thirty years ago, put that on top of the building—I love it. In fact, it lights up every night. People all over the town of Manitou Springs, Colorado can see it.
It’s actually become an important cultural phenomenon in a way. A few years ago a windstorm blew the cross down. Somebody came to our office door and said “You need to get that cross back up there.” Our staff member, knowing this person was a Buddhist, asked, “Why do you care?” The person said this, and I quote: “Dude, the whole vibe of our town is off, if your cross is not on.” As a teacher, I thought, “That’ll preach!”
As you know, the cross is the centerpiece of what’s happening at Trinity Christian School. When they raise the cross, when they teach children to love Jesus, when they teach children to share the good news of the gospel, and to do that in every aspect of the culture as well as in personal relationships—they’re doing for Prescott, Arizona what Summit’s cross does for our town: “Dude the whole vibe of your town is off, if the cross at Trinity Christian is not on.”
We have the opportunity to step forward and say, “Yes! What you are doing here is not just changing the lives of these children, it’s changing the United States of America.”