21 May, 2024

Raising the Strongest Generation


by | 1 May, 2024 | 0 comments

The Youth Worldview Ministry of Connection Pointe Christian Church

By Zach Breitenbach and Trey Shigley 

Among Americans who consistently attended church in their teen years, nearly two out of three will stop attending between the ages of 18 and 29, according to Barna Group research. Among the reasons: Young people are often not encouraged to ask tough questions, admit when they have doubts, and discover what it means to integrate their faith into every part of their world. Having space to think critically and consider how their faith informs all aspects of their lives is vital as teens go through a crucial time of struggling to make sense of their identity and their place in life, Barna reported separately (in “Generation Z—The Culture, Beliefs, and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation”).  

Spiritual growth is simply not on the radar of many teens today, as they are less likely to say faith is core to their identity, Barna shared in that latter report. While career success is a big priority for the vast majority of Gen Zers (those born 1997 to 2012), only 16 percent seek to be spiritually mature. Additionally, negative views of church are far more widespread among this generation. As examples, 53 percent of churchgoing teens think the church rejects science, 42 percent view church members as hypocritical, and 32 percent say the church isn’t a safe place to express doubts.  

Launching a Worldview Ministry 

As worldview ministers with Connection Pointe Christian Church (Brownsburg, Indiana), it is our passion and calling to reverse these alarming trends. It is also a key component in the vision of our lead pastor, John S. Dickerson. Connection Pointe (CP) is a growing church with multiple locations and more than 8,000 members attending in person and online. Since coming to CP in November 2017, Dickerson’s vision has been to “raise the strongest generation.” A significant part of carrying out this vision was his goal of launching a “Worldview Ministry” (see sidebar) when he came on board.   

CP has invested heavily in helping young people know and love God, integrate God’s Word into their daily lives, find their identity in Christ, and experience deep and meaningful friendships in church. Our prayer is that this generation will outdo us in transforming the world for Jesus. 

Clearly, the orientation of one’s heart and mind concerning the big questions of life will shape the way one lives and the choices one makes. If a teen has a robust Christian worldview (i.e., believes the truths revealed in Scripture about these big questions, loves God, and is committed to living out these truths), then remaining close to God as a young adult is exceedingly likely. So, at CP, we strive to help students form a Christian worldview. We want to strengthen the faith of young people by helping them to see every facet of life (including the core of their own identity) according to the Bible.  

Jesus says the greatest command is to love God with our heart, soul, strength, and mind. The second greatest is to love others as ourselves (Mark 12:28-30). This sums up what it means to have a Christian worldview. Gaining knowledge and believing the right things as we love God with our mind is critical, but it isn’t enough. We must love God with our entire being, including: our soul (our will, desires, and inner “self”); our heart (feelings, emotions, and attitudes); and all the strength of our physical body (what we say and do). 

In the summer of 2022, Dickerson’s vision of launching an entire multifaceted ministry devoted to this aim of developing a comprehensive Christian worldview in the next generation became a reality when CP hired us (Zach and Trey) as Youth Worldview co-directors. 

We believe God has providentially placed us together in this ministry. Both of us have experience working with young people; Zach’s experience and teaching abilities skew more toward academia (on up to seminary), while Trey’s have been more focused on the church setting.  

Key Aspects 

We are continually developing and refining our strategy, but here are several major components of CP’s Worldview Ministry.  

We are developing curriculum to address key worldview topics for youth in grades 6 through 12. (In the future, we intend to expand it to younger kids as well as adults.) We are targeting their heads and their hearts, while seeking to increase their desire to live out their faith actively. These lessons start with foundational topics for the younger grades and build upon each other as they go.  

For example, sixth-graders learn about the concept of a worldview, the biblical worldview story, how we can know there is objective truth, and the core beliefs of Christianity. In the older grades, students learn more about Christian doctrine, spiritual disciplines, thinking biblically about important moral issues in our culture, why one should want to be a Christian, evidence that Christianity is true, the beliefs of major religions and worldviews, and much more.  

The curriculum is taught in the spring, summer, and fall, and it offers highlights of a Christian school education, grounding students in Christian beliefs, evidence that Christianity is true, and how to live out their faith. 

Other significant initiatives include: 

  • Conversations with youth and parents. We love to coach parents and students in a one-on-one or group environment on topics that are important to them so that both are strengthened in their biblical worldview. 
  • “Lunch and Learns” for youth, parents, grandparents, and adults of the congregation. These after-church events involve eating lunch while listening to an interactive worldview lesson that facilitates conversations between youth and adults about important worldview topics. 
  • An annual “College and Career Fair” prepares students and their parents to make choices about their future through a spiritual lens. Representatives from a variety of Christian schools and Christian campus groups are present to interact with students at the fair. We also host a dinner presentation for parents of high school students. 
  • We are developing a student leadership program for high school students who want to go deeper in their walk with the Lord and become better equipped to share their faith. 
  • We are developing outreach trips for youth and young adults that include street ministry, serving in local communities, and opportunities to serve internationally. 
  • We’re developing a website that will offer training resources for parents, youth, and other churches and organizations. It will include PowerPoint lessons, teaching notes, student notes, podcasts, and lesson audio. 

Equipping Churches 

Ultimately, CP’s vision for its Worldview Ministry is to equip churches near and far as we reverse the trend that sees two-thirds of young people walking away from the faith. Our dream is that God will use it to light a fire within the next generation. As our culture becomes increasingly secular, we want to equip the church at large to thrive and be a life-giving and faith-grounding place for generations to come. 

Not only do we intend to refine and give away our curriculum and materials to other churches, we want to partner with churches to help them construct their own Worldview Ministry. Our prayer is that this ministry will flourish and blaze the trail for other churches. 

But what if your church is not able to hire a full-time worldview ministry director? There is still much you can do to equip the next generation. Here are a few recommendations: 

  • First, invest in training your youth pastor and others on your church staff in worldview and apologetics. While we would be glad to provide lesson material useful for teaching to youth and parents, having a well-equipped and specially trained youth leader or staff member on hand to answer tough questions would be extremely helpful. So, invest in having a youth pastor or staff member take courses in these areas, or at least do some significant study on your own. 
  • Second, aim to go beyond basic Bible lessons. Help your students grasp the fundamentals of the Christian faith and compare them to beliefs commonly held in other worldviews. Give them reasons to trust the validity of the Christian faith, help them understand why Christianity is true, why we should love God and want Christianity to be true, and how we should live out our Christian faith in a challenging culture. 
  • Third, foster an environment where youth are encouraged to express doubts and ask honest questions. Give them opportunities to submit questions anonymously and in person. Provide honest answers. It’s OK to research answers before answering the students’ questions; this shows that you take their questions seriously and don’t pretend to know everything. 
  • Fourth, look for ways to equip parents to disciple and train their kids. Train parents and prepare them to discuss important topics with their kids. 
  • Finally, don’t merely target the heads (mind/intellect) of your youth; target the hearts and feet as well. Help them to see why they should love Jesus and make him their greatest priority. Create opportunities for them to serve others and live out their faith in practical ways. 

These are just a few suggestions. May God bless you and your congregation in raising the strongest generation. We’re all in this together! 

_ _ _


What Is a Worldview? 

A worldview is basically one’s view of the world . . . of reality. It’s how one answers the big questions of life, and it guides how one lives. It can be described as a story that one assumes to be true and to which one’s heart and mind are committed—a story that makes sense of how life works (kind of like the way a box top to a jigsaw puzzle helps one to make sense of all the pieces). One’s worldview may not be entirely true or consistent, and it may not be carefully (or even consciously) thought out in every respect. But it includes key assumptions about the big-picture story of life and how one should relate to the world. Some examples: 

  • Origin: Where did the universe and humans come from? Was everything created by God? Has the physical universe existed forever without any creator or purpose? Is everything part of the oneness of all things (as in Buddhism or Hinduism)? 
  • Conflict and resolution: What’s wrong with the world, and how can it be fixed? Is sin against a holy God the problem, and is Jesus our only hope? Is religion the problem, and is technology humanity’s savior? Is death the ultimate—and unconquerable—foe? 
  • Morality: How should we live? Is there really a moral law rooted in God that we all will be held accountable for following? Does each person have his or her own morality? Is our sense that there’s an objective morality merely an illusion that we evolved to help us survive? 
  • Conclusion: How do we end up? Is history going somewhere meaningful? Will we just stop existing when we die? Will we be reincarnated? Is there a heaven and hell? 

_ _ _

Zach Breitenbach and Trey Shigley serve as co-directors of the Youth Worldview ministry at Connection Pointe Christian Church in Brownsburg, Indiana. 

Breitenbach holds a PhD in theology and Christian apologetics and has teaching experience at the high school, undergraduate, and seminary levels. His materials on worldview, Christian apologetics, ethics, world religions, and theology have been used in Christian high schools, camps, churches, and the apologetics ministry, Room For Doubt. 

Shigley is an experienced youth minister and a gifted communicator with a passion for discipling teens and their parents and raising a generation that is on fire for the Lord. He serves as a bridge merging the Worldview Ministry with the existing middle school and high school ministries at Connection Pointe. 


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Features

Follow Us