DAVIS—The experience of the summer youth weeks at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center involves much more than playing volleyball and going on Icee dates. It also includes time for students to engage in deeper Bible study, learn more about missions and have opportunities to worship among 5,000 of their peers.
Falls Creek’s camp program staff is aware of the spiritual needs of young people and tries to offer appealing venues that encourage students to grow in their Christian faith. One such venue began this summer that exceeded expectations.
On Wednesday nights, campers were invited to attend an Apologetics Forum. Guest speakers were invited to address the need for knowing Scripture and being able to defend their Christian faith. Andy Harrison, Falls Creek program director, noticed many young people today are lacking the skills and resources needed to know what the Bible says and why they believe it to be the Word of God.
“They don’t particularly have the Bible knowledge that they need, and they get intimidated in today’s culture, which is changing very rapidly,” said Harrison, who served as the moderator of the weekly forum. “When they hear someone say, ‘There’s no rational reasoning behind being a believer,’ they quickly toss their faith aside.”
Josh Wagner, pastor of Norman, Berry Road, was a regular speaker who presented answers to the hard questions of the faith many Christians struggle to answer. Harrison said Wagner was very good at answering these hard questions, and commended him for his ability to connect with students during the forum.
“I didn’t want a specialist to come in and be antagonistic and argumentative. I really wanted somebody to present it in a conversational way,” said Harrison.
Every forum began with Harrison prompting Wagner to respond to two of the most often asked questions: How can the Bible be trusted and reliable? And if God is so good and powerful, how come there is so much evil in the world?
“Those questions are not easy to answer in 10 minutes,” Harrison said.
After the two questions were addressed, students were able ask other questions. The questions involved topics relating to evolution, the relationship between free will and election, God’s relationship with man and other biblical and spiritual issues. The forum was scheduled for an hour, but students were allowed to remain after the meeting to ask questions. He went another hour before the students had to go back to their cabins.
The number of people attending the forum reached 500 or more for some of the weeks. Both Harrison and Wagner were impressed with how many came to the event, but they both knew this demonstrated how important apologetics is for Christians today.
“This is a subject that is desperately needed among high school students,” said Wagner. “People are hungry for answers. They are hearing the questions, and they are not finding the answers. So they are looking for some kind of forum which will give them a direction and say, ‘There are answers in the Bible, and here’s how you get started in finding them.’ There’s a huge need for teaching on apologetics.”
Harrison received much feedback from church leaders. Many told him the apologetics forum needed to be an ongoing breakout session. He and Wagner plan to discuss how to improve the forum for future camps.
“We will meet and talk about what will be a really good format,” Harrison said. “It’s obvious kids are interested.”
Wagner was impressed with how many students are showing interest and are studying deeper spiritual topics while in high school.
“I said to a few of the students, ‘When you get to college, your faith will be assaulted on every level almost all the time,’” said Wagner. “One of the most joyful things about being a pastor is showing them how the Bible is sufficient for all of life, including our apologetic encounters, our very difficult questions. The Bible forms the basis of all of our apologetic witness. To be able to show people in the Scriptures, if you search and dig and mine and you ‘search for wisdom as it was hidden treasure,’ as it says in Prov. 2, you will find it. The answers are there.”
Students do more at Falls Creek than play volleyball and drink Icees. They learn how to grow in their faith and how to share it with others.