I am reminded of my faith journey in high school as compared to college. I grew up in a rather conservative evangelical church. Those who thought differently than my church (Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans...) were not considered real Christians and the ideas of non-believers were to be avoided (or ridiculed). But I attended public schools where I had to defend my "faith" (or what I thought was my faith) on a constant basis. That involved standing up for creationism and absolute truth and standing against abortion and homosexuality - the essential core doctrines of my faith at the time. But given that I always found myself in the position of defending those beliefs, I never had the chance to examine or question why I believed them. Then I went away to a Christian college where a lot of those basic beliefs were assumed. I felt the freedom to question and explore different expressions of Christianity within the safety of that context. I ended up abandoning some of my earlier assumptions and coming to a deeper commitment of faith in the process. But I needed the safety of that environment to be able to do that.
Now I don't pretend to assume that most Christian schools afford people that opportunity (not that all people found it at my college either), but it seems like we are in desperate need of such "safe places." Places where we are free to question and push ideas without being made to feel guilty or defend our most basic assumptions. If we can't get past the questions of "is there a God" or "is truth relative" then how can we ever truly grow? Those are needed questions at times, but sometimes the answers must just be taken on faith in order for us to move the conversation (and our emotional/mental/spiritual heath) along. But where are those safe places? It seems to me that the church should in a sense serve that function, but most people view the church as unsafe and unhealthy. How can this change or where else can we go?