“I just try not to think about it,” the student replied to my question about how she and other Christian students deal with the challenge of integrating faith with science. Her eyes dropped to the floor, her shoulders slumped in anxiety and defeat. Around me a few others nodded.
This pervasive mindset among the Christian science students I chatted with left me sad and incredulous. Not surprisingly, these same students were having difficulty discussing their faith with lab mates. Doubt, uncertainty, and confusion had paralyzed their ability to share the gospel.
It was from this experience that I became passionate about developing an opportunity to equip and embolden Christian students just like them. In the summer of 2013, when I was an RTB visiting scholar, I initiated the development of a program that became The Lab. This is a three-day mentoring program designed to give students the tools they need to engage in evangelism while they pursue a degree in a STEM field. Participants in The Lab learn to anticipate the questions and ideas they will encounter during their education and develop a relational (as opposed to reactionary) mindset rooted in confidence that Christ is the Truth. The Lab doesn’t provide answers to every question; rather, the program builds a foundation and coaches students in how to seek answers for themselves. The Lab also offers parallel sessions for parents.
In partnership with Krista Bontrager and Jeff Zweerink, we launched the first Lab with 20 students and several parents in July 2015. The experience and feedback were extremely positive. One student even said The Lab renewed his wavering faith. That one interaction would have been enough for me, but we saw many encouraging responses. Immediately, the students were using their new apologetics skills to engage people in gracious discussions about Christianity. We are looking forward to meeting and training a new crop of students (ages 16–22) this summer at The Lab 2016 (July 14–16).