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Caught in a Crossfire of Confusion

Tuesday, April 16, 2024 @ 08:37 AM Caught in a Crossfire of Confusion Dr. Alex McFarland Christian Apologist, Radio Host MORE

The gospel never changes, but battles over the content of the message do.

But in approaching the subject of evangelizing and discipling students amid an ever-intensifying battle of worldviews, this must be said from the outset: Children and teens are more spiritually attuned and aware than adults may assume, and they absolutely do care about truth.

Over the course of 25-plus years, our organization, Alex McFarland Ministries, has been privileged to survey hundreds
of thousands of teens on spiritual, moral, and social issues. The contexts have included conferences, camps, church events, open forums at campuses, live radio and podcast interactions, and online questionnaires.

As with many adults who profess Christ, what a teen believes (or assumes) about key issues can be “all over the map.” Responses about God and His attributes, Jesus, the Bible, prayer, sin, salvation, creation/human origin, sex, gender, economics, government, marriage and family, childbearing, eternity, morals, truth, church involvement, citizenship, the Great Commission, other religions, and Christian views about life’s purpose and priorities may be vague to wildly unbiblical. This is true even among youth who claim to be born again.

But I am absolutely convinced that youth want to know what is true and real about God. Therein lies great opportunity for churches, ministries, and committed Christians everywhere. But let’s remember what is often called “the first rule of communication:” Know your audience.

It has been said, “The burden of communication lies on the speaker.” 

Teens today (even those raised in a Christian environment) are rapidly abandoning values unquestioned by previous generations. Though about 51% of youth ages 13-19 identify as Christian, at best about 8% affirm beliefs and behaviors consistent with traditional, biblical faith – according to Align Life Ministries.   

How can kids give their lives to the Lord Jesus when they may not even believe that God exists? A youth may have a very twisted view of the Heavenly Father due to painful experiences with an earthly father. Factoring apologetics and worldview content into our presentations of the gospel is now a necessity. Before we look at some practical ways to do this, let’s consider the audience God has entrusted to His church in this era. 

A time of cultural deviancy

Pew Research Center reports teens indicating they have no religious faith has grown from 24% to 32% since COVID-19. Sixty-one percent of teens now say, “It is not necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values.” Only 38% affirm that it is necessary to believe in God to be moral.

According to Fuller Youth Institute, a 2022 survey cited 58% of U.S. teens stating, “I don’t like to be told answers about faith and religion; I’d rather discover my own answers.” Pew Research Center reported that even teens coming from a Christian background – some 45% – say that “many religions may be true.” 

Nowhere has the drift toward deviancy been more vividly seen than in the mainstreaming of homosexuality and transgenderism. Probe for Answers ( explains that homosexual attraction and/or true gender confusion occurs in only 2% of the population, yet teens are taught in public schools that “homosexuality is normal and healthy.”

Relentless promotion of deviant sexualities has taken place alongside decades of rampant divorce and the glamorization of promiscuity in media and entertainment. Wave after wave of American teens indicating less support for biblical perspectives is sad but not surprising.

A lack of biblical foundation

Youth are growing up amidst a crisis of truth, a crisis of identity, and an absence of context. (There is, especially, a lack of context and appreciation for what America is and why our nation should be appreciated and preserved.)

There is ambivalence (or distrust) toward history and an absence of moral and spiritual grounding known to previous generations. Teens frequently feel anxious, resentful, and alienated. Impersonal government (rather than family, church, or neighbors) is expected to ensure solutions, security, and fairness for all. 

Adolescence is emotionally and psychologically volatile for most everyone. That is why a biblical worldview is so important: It provides a stable sense of self and life context. Without God’s foundational truths on which to stand, many teens today live with inner turmoil. They are fearful of not being a part of a group, yet resentful of being “lumped in” with a group.

This generation, like our nation, urgently needs the gospel. Again, herein lies opportunity.

Even if most Christian teens wouldn’t use the terms worldview or apologetics, they seek the results that effective teaching of truth provide. In my experience, teens want to know the reasons why we believe what we believe.

It’s funny – I’ve never had a teen say to me, “My generation cares more about relationships than about truth.” Never! (Although this is the teaching I hear from adults who are decades removed from actual interaction with young people.)

Likewise, none of the approximately 1,250 teens who attend our annual summer worldview camps ever say, “Feelings are what convinces me of a point; evidence doesn’t matter at all.” 

Finally, for those who assume that good teaching in youth ministry “mustn’t get too deep for the kids,” let me say that we have never had students say, “Alex, please stop! Don’t you know that people our age aren’t smart enough to understand Christianity?”

We should not underestimate the fact that kids are thinking about dozens of theological issues, and from elementary age up, they are definitely capable of grasping even the most profound of biblical truths. Trust me … they are.


Editor’s note: Alex McFarland ( is heard daily on American Family Radio ( as co-host of Exploring the Word. Alex and his staff are veteran ministers to youth and college students, hosting camps throughout America each summer, inspiring upcoming generations to love God and country.

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