This was a question posed by one of the best thinkers in the blogosphere, Paul Martin. You should check out his blog at beingministry.com. I was invited to share my option along with some really amazing thinkers in youth ministry. It is a great conversation and I am honored to participate. On Tuesday Joel Mayward and Adam Mclane shard their thoughts. Today myself and Jeremy Zach give our thoughts. And tomorrow Mark Oestreicher and Mark Riddle wrap it up. Join the conversation. (Don't tell Paul that I am not really in the same league as these guys. It will be our secret) Here is how I answered: "In our ministry, we want our students to graduate from our student ministry to see Christianity as a viable option for them in adulthood and for the church to be viable community for them as adults. Our assumption is that there will be wandering and exploring after their time in student ministry and at some point they will reflect on their time with us, the church and our hope is that their memory of this time is that they will always have a place among our community. Think of what might have gone through the prodigal's son mind at his lowest point. He knew the father's house was always an option for him to return.
As young adults, students need a bigger faith picture than God doesn't want you to have sex or drink and that evolution is wrong. Once they go to college and realize evolution is plausible and, in fact, the orthodoxy of higher education combined with the reality that having sex and drinking isn't the end of the world, our students realize that their simple faith of childhood now as some gigantic holes. Their flannel graph version of Christianity doesn't fit in this amoral context and the church along with their faith gets discarded as something nice from their childhood, like Poekemon.
We must be passing on a genuine and real, experiential encounter with the creator of the world and the one in whom it is redeemed. This can only happen in a community that has at is foundation grace and love for the students in their unique developmental season of life. As they make dumb decisions, how we "disciple" them can make or break their ever considering re-entry as a true possibility."