Today in church we had a visiting speaker from denominational head quarters who gave a presentation on the attitudes of young adults towards church in general and especially the church of their childhood. it is not surprising to anyone who is paying attention that a good percentage of young people are not continuing with church activities. According to the information presented this morning only about 48 % of (evangelical) children who come up through the church remain active in church upon reaching young adulthood. So what do we do about it?
Below are the opinions of someone of reasonable intelligence and moderate mental stability who grew up in the evangelical community and cares very much for Christ and his church and the evangelical community especially. A few of the ideas at least should be worth considering.
Have Faith. Remember that Christianity is God’s religion. We just work here. If God wants things to decline for a little while or forever that is his business. Remember, without faith it is impossible to please God.
Christian Unity. This is the big sin of Evangelicals. The Catholics filled Christianity with paganism and the protestants compromised with liberalism but it was us evangelicals more than anyone else who blew the unity file. Out of a love for Jesus and because of our desire to serve and glorify him let us strive to be unified. Sometimes churches want to know the secret to church growth. it was Jesus who said that if we are unified the world will know that the Father sent Jesus. John 17:22-23 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Youth leaders: Our church wants a youth pastor but at the moment we can not afford one. I’m ambivalent about youth pastors. What is the message within the message of having a youth pastor. One message is that youth are important and we love them. I’m good with that but the message is also that youth are the center of the world. Youth are already self-centered maybe we should not be catering to that. If we demand that youth pastors also be youthful we are also implying that it is okay to hire people based on their age which is not Christian at all. We are also saying that the truths of Christianity are not Universal but that kids need to hear truths a certain way. This skates to close to syncretism for my blood. We are often saying that church should be about fun and games so when the fun stops the kids stop coming. None of these is a deal breaker. I wish our church could have a youth minister also. We can’t afford our own so we should share one. Maybe we could afford a half or a third of a youth minister. Sharing a minister would also be an unspoken lesson in Christian unity and love etc.
Have more children: If half of all Children raised in the Church leave the church then have twice as many children. In our church there are a number of young people who are unmarried and therefore not reproducing. It was pointed out to me that these days it is hard for kids to get married because they don’t have jobs that they can live on. I work with a Moslem fellow who like many of us who work there is only on a part-time contract. He’s not making enough to start a family but he is – because he still lives at home. Why can’t Christians do that? I know it takes a lot of patience to live with your in-laws but we have the Holy Spirit.
More Jesus: This is just my own experience and I am willing to admit that it may be my fault. Since reading about Jesus and the words of Jesus I really began to like the guy and I have become convinced that Jesus really nailed it. If Jesus really was just a philosopher then he was the a super duper explicative explicative brilliant genius because he really got it. That is my opinion anyway.
Less Bible: I really hate to say this, that is why it’s the last point. I am fully aware of the thin ice upon which I tread. When we tell youth that the Bible was inspired by God and that inspired means verbally dictated we make a target that is very easy for the enemy to hit. We have taken 2 Timothy 3:16 ” All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” and turned it into ‘The Bible as we have it today was dictated by God just like he dictated the law to Moses and now we must obey it the way the Jews obeyed the Torah’, I don’t believe this exegesis. I believe it just the way Paul said it to Timothy. I also believe that the scriptures that are in our cannon are much more valuable than the ones that the church fathers saw fit to leave out but even those scriptures have good stuff in them. Notice that Paul did not mention that all scriptures are a good place to look for doctrine. That is because some of what people then considered scripture had some clearly wacked ideas. Paul was able to write what he did because despite the importance that Paul himself placed on proper theology the most important part of Christianity is still “teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”.
To explain a little better, because of context I believe that all four points are about sin. I suppose there are some who would read it as ‘teaching (about doctrine), for reproof (of bad doctrine), for correction (of bad doctrine again) and by the way as a side point training in righteousness also. I don’t read it that way.
If you have read this far thank you very much for the compliment. If you disagree with something that is fine. Tomorrow I’ll disagree with some of it too. Let’s agree to be friends though so that by our unity the world will know that The Father sent the Son.