The shortest route between two points is a straight line, or so my High School math teacher eloquently instructed us.
I always loved math. It seemed to me that the numbers fixed themselves in just such a fashion as to be a puzzle that begs to be solved.
For me, it started in the Fourth Grade when my teacher would host weekly math competitions. We’d go row-by-row and seat-by-seat. Student #1 would stand behind student #2 as a math problem was read aloud. The first person to shout the correct answer would win. The winner would move on and the loser would take the seat.
That particular year, I had the pleasure of being in the class with the popular boy in my grade. At some point, it was my turn to stand behind him. I remember feeling a fair amount of tension in the room. Everyone was rooting for him, or so I recall. The math problem was read, our minds started to spin….
…And I spit out the right answer before he did….
So, unlike the dread which coiled its way around the hearts of most math students, my heart savored opportunities to solve the problems and arrive at correct answers — especially when it meant beating the boys.
Connecting the Dots Between Faith and Real Life.
As a mom of grown children, I understand that the most monumental task we can undertake as parents is to provide our children the skills necessary to make wise decisions as independent adults, particularly in regard to issues of faith.
That itself is a complicated problem, but especially so in a confused world which wrestles incessantly with the notions of faith…and truth.
As a Christian, I am challenged to extend the Truth to those outside the faith, as well as to those inside my family.
Recent research demonstrates that those two groups are merging into one:
- Those reporting no religious affiliation at all — otherwise known as the Nones — are the single fastest growing ‘religious’ group in America, and have been so for awhile.
- A sobering 2016 PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute) study indicates that among the religiously unaffiliated:
- Young adults are nearly 4 times more likely to be religiously unaffiliated than just a generation ago (39% in 2016 vs. 10% in 1986).
- Most non-religious Americans were previously religious.
- 62% of those who left their childhood religion did so prior to turning 18 years old.
- Those who consider themselves irreligious are overwhelmingly (93%) not interested in finding a religion to join.
- Barna Research shows that Generation Z (the generational cohort following the Millennials) is more secular than any other generation before it, reporting two self-identified atheists within its age bracket, as compared to each self-reported atheist in the adult population.
- The Fixed Point Foundation led a study in which they solicited the stories of those who chose to leave religion. Although the Christian community already knew that the college years threatened the faith of young adults, this study found (among other things) that the seedlings of doubt sprouted anywhere from 9th-12th grades. (Parents and Youth Group Leaders – we have less time to influence them than we think.)
These studies make it clear that secularism, or irreligion, is growing the fastest of all ‘religious’ groups, and is doing so among the youngest.
Making the Connection & Making Disciples
I consider myself lucky to have a longstanding faith. I know, by my own experience and through the Scriptures, that my faith in Christ has an unparalleled healing effect on my heart and my mind. I wouldn’t be the same person without it.
Therefore, these studies trouble me, but they also prompt a particular question:
If the shortest route between two points is a straight line, what is the ‘straight line’ that might connect ‘faith’ with ‘real life’, for this large and growing body of (mostly young) non-believers?
And the answer, I believe, is….
We women, that is.
Women are the best answer to this question — that is, we are the straight line between the two points of ‘faith’ and ‘real life’ for the Next Generation – for at least 3 reasons:
1.) Women are an arm’s length from the Next Generation – If you are a mom (or you plan to be someday) you have as direct a connection to the Next Generation as a person can have.
However, even if you’re not a mom, you’re likely a grandmother, a sister, an aunt, a classroom teacher, or a youth worker whose influence can have an eternal impact – IF – you will open your eyes to the opportunities around you and begin now to prepare for them.
Jude 1:3 expresses the urgency with which we need to be addressing the religiously disaffiliated. I’ve created a video on that verse identifying 3 (potentially 4) specific things you can begin doing right now to speak the truth to those who might otherwise walk away. (To watch the video, click the video player below)
2.) Women Are Relationally Motivated – If you’ve been in church for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard more than one person say that evangelism is best approached after a relationship has been successfully established. Cultivating relationship, so they say, is the best way to ‘earn the right to be heard.’
I don’t happen to be a big fan of that statement. It seems to me that truth always has the right to speak and be heard. Not to mention, we see the Apostle Paul making a beeline to the synagogues almost immediately upon his arrival in new places, in order to “reason with them from the Scriptures” that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 17:2-3). He doesn’t necessarily take them all to brunch first.
However, I will happily and enthusiastically concede that a relationship in good standing creates a very compelling ground from which the motivation to tackle evangelistic conversations can more reliably grow…and it just might make it more effective as well.
Apologist and mom, Natasha Crain, says something similar when writing for the apologetics website called Stand to Reason:
“Women are quickly convicted of the need for apologetics in multiple spheres of life because of the many relationships they care about.” (Read her post here)
Our natural concern for our children and friends can serve as the catalyst we need to be proficient in stepping up to the challenge that faces today’s church.
3.) Women are more naturally adept (usually) at handling difficult conversations with sensitivity – It isn’t my intent to impose gender stereotypes here, but generally speaking, women tend to gravitate toward softening the blows of life’s difficult moments with warmth and encouragement. We bring meals to sick friends. We bake cookies when the soccer team loses. We volunteer to be the taxi when another mom is recovering from a long illness or is away.
In order to fulfill our roles as proclaimers of the Gospel of Christ, some difficult conversations – about sin and repentance, for example – must be undertaken. Since the Bible calls us to defend these truths with “gentleness and respect,” we women seem to have something of an advantage here.
Apologist Hillary Morgan Ferrer agrees, saying, “A woman’s ability to sense distress and diffuse it during an apologetics conversation is a powerful weapon in a world going mad. Do not underestimate it.”
In summary, I believe that today’s church has a most pressing need, and that the women of the church possess and unrivaled perspective from which to meet that need with skill and aplomb.
If you are a woman, and you are at all concerned about passing your faith onto the Next Generation, or to friends and family members who are seduced into unbelief by the current secular mindset, then let me encourage you to take a big breath, and dive deep into discipleship, evangelism, and apologetics.
There has been a resurgence of Apologetics – the branch of theology which makes a reasoned defense of the truth of Christ and the Christian Worldview. At present, there are many female apologists actively working in the field who can equip you to speak truthfully and tenderly to those you’d like to reach. You might want to follow these ladies on their websites and their social media, for the good of the church and the glory of God:
Alisa Childers – hosts a blog and a podcast, and an upcoming book! Find her at https://www.alisachilders.com/
Natasha Crain – writes a regular blog, speaks nationally, and has written two books with a third coming out soon. Find her at http://christianmomthoughts.com/. Plus, Natasha co-founded a group called Grassroots Apologetics for Parents, which seeks to provide apologetics resources for parents inside local churches. https://www.grassrootsapologeticsforparents.com/
Hillary Morgan Ferrer – has both a blog and a podcast called Mama Bear Apologetics, and speaks regularly. The Mama Bear Apologetics book comes out this summer 2019. Find her at https://mamabearapologetics.com/. She also serves as co-founder of Women In Apologetics, a website designed to promote the work of female apologists. https://www.womeninapologetics.com/
Claudia Kalmikov – Claudia speaks and writes at https://straighttalkwithclaudiak.com/
Lisa Quintana – Lisa graduated from Biola at the same time I did. She speaks and has a blog called Think Divinely. Find her at https://thinkdivinely.com/
Mary Jo Sharp – Mary Jo is a veteran speaker, debater, author and blogger. You can find her at http://confidentchristianity.com/
Melissa Cain Travis – Melissa loves science, and her apologetics resources are geared toward that perspective. She’s currently a PhD student, who also writes her blog, speaks, and authors books. You can find her at https://hcchristian.wordpress.com/.
And myself – Lori Morrow, who is convinced that a relationship with Christ is the food and medicine our souls need. I write here at The Spoonfed Soul, but I also have a YouTube Channel , and an online course for developing your own personal quiet time (called The Coffee Chronicles) which you can find here: https://spoonfedsoul.mykajabi.com/the-coffee-chronicles
 Jack Jenkins, “’Nones’ Now as Big as Evangelicals, Catholics in the Us,” Religion News Service, March 21, 2019, https://religionnews.com/2019/03/21/nones-now-as-big-as-evangelicals-catholics-in-the-us/.
 Robert P. Jones, PHD et al., “Exodus: Why Americans Are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back,” Public Religion Research Institute, September 22, 2016, https://www.prri.org/research/prri-rns-poll-nones-atheist-leaving-religion/.
 David Kinnaman, “Atheism Doubles Among Generation Z,” Barna Group, January 24, 2018, https://www.barna.com/research/atheism-doubles-among-generation-z/.
 Larry Taunton, “Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity,” The Atlantic, June 6, 2013, https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/listening-to-young-atheists-lessons-for-a-stronger-christianity/276584/.
 Jude 1:3 – Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people.
 Acts 17:2-3 – As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said.
 1 Peter 3:15
 Hillary Morgan Ferrer, “Yes, Women Need Apologetics, but More Importantly, Apologetics Needs Women,” Cross Examined, January 5, 2018, https://crossexamined.org/yes-women-need-apologetics-importantly-apologetics-needs-women/.