Wheatstone Academy meets students in the middle of the biggest transition of their life—youth to adulthood—and introduces them to Christianity as they have never experienced it before through quality events and conferences.
What is the Academy?
Our premier ministry offering, these week-long events take participants on an intense spiritual, emotional, creative, intellectual, and relational journey. Most alumni report that they've never worked so hard nor had so much fun in their lives. They leave with a sense of God's greatness, a captivation with his world's wonder, and a desire to become people who make a difference in their families, communities, and world.
Where conferences are vast, the Academy's events are deep. With topics ranging from how to appreciate modern art to the principles of good discussion to team building, these are opportunities for participants to dive into particular facets of our staff and faculty's expertises, to focus in on one area of growth, or to explore a single thing well. Usually shorter than our conferences, events nevertheless feature the same high quality of design, materials, and staff.
Wheatstone was founded in response to two big problems: the increasingly large number of young adults who are leaving church in college, and the declining influence of Christianity in American culture. The Academy uses fine-tuned events to confront these trends.
Preparing students for new challenges to their faith. It saddens us to see so many bright students trying to find their fulfillment outside the community of believers. We want to see a new generation of young Christians committed to nurturing the church instead of merely criticizing it. We want to help them feel at home.
But how? How do we help them stay? A recent study on why young adults leave church described their perception of Christianity with terms like these: overprotective, shallow, antagonistic, simplistic, judgmental, exclusive, and unfriendly. Any truly effective response to students' departure, therefore, must counter these perceptions. Wheatstone Academy is designed to do just that.
Raising up cultural influencers. The seeds of political and social change are often sown a decade or more before they bear fruit. Christians who see themselves surrounded by antagonism can look back to seemingly simpler times and find the roots of their problems. Likewise, Christians who want to see meaningful social reform must look decades into the future. That's why it's so important for our community to invest in the students who will become tomorrow's cultural influencers, and to prepare them to be truly effective.
The problems we face are complex, yet Christians frequently respond to them in simple ways, getting carried away with quick fixes and short-term solutions. Wheatstone's events and conferences offer a response on every level: body, mind, and spirit; heart, soul, mind, and strength.
How, not what. Memorized answers to tough questions don't serve students for very long when their faith gets challenged in new contexts. Rather than giving students a checklist of supposedly invincible beliefs, the Academy teaches students how to ask good questions, and it gives them a lasting impression of Christianity's resilience. Instead of becoming intellectually stubborn, Academy alumni are set on a path to pursue Christ, the Truth, well.
Expanded Christianity. Christianity is always bigger than we think it is, but students are constantly leaving the church because it seems "childish." The Academy helps students taste their inability to exhaust the depths of the knowledge of God or the heights of a life lived for him. Alumni leave the Academy seeking to pursue the abundant life Christ gives.
Attractive adulthood. Our culture tends to portray youth as vastly preferable to adulthood, and most of us have bought into it. We value consumeristic exploration, heightened awareness of physical pleasure, and a lack of responsibility. Yet this is in direct opposition to the way of Christ, whose gospel helps us "grow up." The Academy helps students desire maturity by showing it for what it is: richer, deeper, and truer than anything they've previously experienced.
Here at Wheatstone, we recognize that relationships are the true basis of lasting learning, so we're careful to assemble the most excellent teams we can for every one of our conferences and events. Talented and compassionate, our staff is at the heart of our success.
Mentors. These young, compassionate, intelligent Christians lead small groups of students through conference and event experiences. Most mentors have had over 400 hours of experience in socratic discussions. They're American Christianity's rising leaders, teachers, artists, and thinkers.
Scholars. The Academy gives participants personal access to some of the greatest Christian thinkers working today. Past conferences have featured John Mark Reynolds, JP Moreland, Frank Pastori, Sean McDowell, Craig Hazen, and more. Students don't just hear them in massive lecture halls, they get to ask questions and get close.
Artisans. We don't just tell students to become creators of culture, we introduce them to people who are doing it, people who have shown themselves capable of passing their skills along. Our artisans help students' understanding of embodied Christianity come alive.
Administrators. The quality keeps on going beneath the surface. The people who make the Academy run are the sort of people who could easily be mentors or artisans themselves. It makes a difference; students are shocked to uncover meaning even in details like snacks or schedules.