A SAFE PLACE FOR UNSAFE QUESTIONS
All youth, but especially evangelical youth, need a safe place to ask unsafe questions. They need a place to explore life’s big questions, actively engage with reality, and make their faith their own. This is the mission of Gutenberg College, a small great books liberal arts college in Eugene, Oregon. It is for this reason that I’m honored to serve as the chairman of the Gutenberg National Advisory Board. Silence and coercion do not serve authentic faith. Casual disengagement is equally dishonest. One needs the opportunity to seek, explore, question, and discover. Jesus promised only seekers find. Gutenberg operates with the kind of confidence in truth and reality that it affirms with Dallas Willard that “If you can find something better than Jesus, he would be the first person to tell you to follow it.”
The evangelical church is at risk of losing its youth. One cannot expect to keep doing what we have been doing and expect different results. About 80% of young people currently attending their church youth groups will lose all connection to the church after two years in college. The fastest growing segment of the American religious demographic is the “religious nones” or those who are religiously unaffiliated with the institutional church. They now make up 40-50 percent of millennials and Gen-Z—or young people in their teens and twenties. Old assumptions that this group will return to the church of their youth once they are married and have children is a forlorn hope. Perhaps even more revealing is that of the young people who identify as “nones,” 78% grew up in the church—though not all from evangelical churches. This means that those who know the church the best, are among those who are most disillusioned with it. Clearly, what the church has been doing in reaching the next generation of youth is woefully lacking.
Fortunately for the coming generation, there is Gutenberg College where education is genuinely personal, spiritually honest, authentically real, and humbly confident. Few other colleges can make this same claim. I encourage you and your child to explore Gutenberg.