FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Nearly 140 high school students learned to preserve and defend their faith on college campuses during a one-day conference called “Contend For the Faith: Preparing for College like a Christian,” hosted by the College at Southwestern, Sept. 29.
During the conference, high school students attended Southwestern’s morning chapel service, where college dean Steven Smith urged them to use money that does not belong to them in order to lead others to Christ and to eternal life.
Smith drew this lesson from the parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16:1-13, which tells of a servant fired for misusing his master’s goods. Before his master forced him from his position, the servant made friends by calling “every one of his master’s debtors” and decreasing their debt.
This servant “was fired at the end of the day,” Smith said, “but there were people standing in line to hire him because he had made all these friends with money that wasn’t his.”
“Jesus turns around and says, ‘That is the definition of a Christian,’” Smith added. “You’re getting fired from this life. Five years, 10 years, 30-40 years from now, you’ll be done. It will be the end. … You won’t have anything left, but between now and the point that you’re dead, God has given you some of his money.”
Smith challenged students to take God’s money—His gifts, resources and Word—and use it “to get as many people into the kingdom as possible.”
During the first session of the conference, Thomas White, vice president for student services and communications, warned students not to waste their lives by abandoning God during college for the pursuit of success, money and pleasure.
“Here is my fear for you guys,” White said. “It is that you’re going to go to school and that you’re going to get a college degree. … You need to be educated. But if you get a college degree, but lose your faith while you’re in college, you will waste your life.”
According to statistics, 70 percent of those who have attended church throughout their childhood drop out of church during college. For this reason, White challenged high school students to maintain a firm faith and a daily relationship with Christ through Bible study, prayer, involvement in campus ministries and ultimately in the local church.
During the next session of the conference, David Bertch, professor of humanities, gave students tools for Christian thinking. According to Bertch, Christ Jesus is Lord over every area of a Christian’s life, including his mind.
 “We’ve got to recover Christian thinking in our culture,” Bertch said. “It is on your shoulders … to recover Christian thinking, which implies living Christianly.”
In the last session of the day, Charles Carpenter, associate professor of English, told students that “right thinking leads to right living.” He also told them that, as they make plans for college, they should not limit what God can do with their lives. He may have plans for them that they never expected.
“You are here for a purpose,” Carpenter said, “He has placed you on the earth for your gifting to flourish, and we don’t want to put His gifting in a small box and say, ‘You only can do that with my life.’”
Jake Walton, a senior at Weatherford Christian School, said “The conference has really given me encouragement that I can keep my faith during college.” Seeing other students at the conference also gave him hope that he is not alone in his desire to contend for the faith during college.