How Christians Can Win Back My Generation

In a recent post entitled Why My Generation is Leaving Christianity, I attempted to outline a number of reasons why so many of my peers are walking away from the faith. The benefit to writing this seemed quite obvious to me and has been confirmed by the feedback the post received from both believers and non-believers alike. I am not a compensated minister, I am not a tenured theologian (though I have two degrees in religious studies), and being in my mid-twenties I am extremely in touch with youth culture from the inside. Having almost walked away from Christianity completely while in high school, I can testify to the dilemmas that many of my peers are having and why they’re having them. This was a chance for me to shed introspection. Instead of an older generation talking about why the younger generation is struggling with their faith and how to solve it, I thought it wise, being a part of that generation, to speak on our behalf. I am slowly exiting that generation, but for the next few years I can still lay claim to it and I hope to utilize my remaining time here well.

If I may sum up the point of the article it’s this: The Church, by and large, has become irrelevant for our daily lives.

This was not always the case. The early Church, for example, saw Christianity as being exceptionally important on a daily basis. Take Paul’s letters for example. They provide us with an early Church hope that Christ would return, he would enact the full Kingdom of God, bring about divine justice, and set up his rule on earth. He would, in essence, bring the Church out of physical exile in the same way that He brought them out of spiritual exile. In the midst of heavy persecution from both the religious and pagan leaders, their cry to God was direct and unambigious: Maranatha (1 Cor 16.22), “Lord Come!” The second to last verse of the Bible makes a similar statement of plea: “Come, Lord Jesus, come” (Rev 22.20). This hope and expectation guided their daily lives. It guided their ethics. It guided their evangelism. It guided their relationships. While it would be wrong to say that Paul believed that the end of the world was going to happen within his lifetime, it is certainly true that he desperately hoped for it. How many of us live our lives with this same hope and expectation? My guess is that most of us simply don’t.

Like the early Church, the Majority World Church (non-Western Church) has this same desire and hope. There is something about persecution which reminds us that God’s full Kingdom is not yet present and which helps to propel those same things which were important in the early church: ethics, evangelism, and relationships. Here’s the simple fact of the matter. The early Church and the Majority World Church recognize the importance of these areas and this is one of the primary reasons why, as Philip Jenkins has noted, the Majority World Church will ultimately replace the Western Church. They may not have the same water-tight orthodox system of theology we often have (and neither did the early Church), but I think there is little doubt that these Christians serve God in ways which we have long forgotten. As Tim Tennent writes in his excellent book Theology in the Context of World Christianity (14),

In more recent years evangelicals have been less engaged in issues such as poverty, environmentalism, ethnic reconcilation, AIDS, prison reform, and the ethics of war. Majority World Christians often live in worlds characterized by such widespread corruption, poverty, disease, and oppression that these issues cannot be conveniently ignored as they often are in our large, seeker-driven, and entertainment-oriented middle-class churches.

Last week I watched my pastor preach in khaki shorts, sandals, and a plaid shirt. His beard was a little less than trimmed and his hair looked like somebody’s mother might want to put the colic down with a wet thumb. Some would be a good bit off put by this display. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “Church is where you wear your best!” as if somehow God would otherwise be disappointed. Now, I am not at all opposed to anybody dressing up nice for Church. I don’t choose to wear gym shorts and a cut off t-shirt. But isn’t it a little ironic when we tell the World to “Come as you are” and then insist that they change exterior appearances which are otherwise non-issues (I am not suggesting shirtless services!)? While many may find such a pastor preaching in shorts to be unthinkable let me tell you that I have seen more homeless and more poverty ridden people attend this church and seek God there than in any other church I’ve ever been in. Indeed, this past week I watched as a man who was obviously in a povershed situation come in with a bandanna, an old sleeveless shirt, and dirty jeans take the front row seat. I saw my pastor embrace this man with a welcoming hug which I knew was absolutely genuine. And I didn’t see anybody in this church bat an eye about who entered in. College students, seminary student, professors, children, retired elders, and the forgotten and neglected members of a small town worshipped God hand in hand. This church stands in stark contrast with a church I attended a few years ago where it was mandatory suit and tie, no music during worship, and no talking whatsoever once you entered the congregation room. Indeed, the sermon of that one was about how God expects us to hit our kids with a belt or a wooden beam when they disobey. My suspicion is that if a povershed or homeless person walked into that church they would quickly have been asked to leave. This brings me to a simple question: which of these two churches would you guess the early apostles would have been a part of? Which one do you think Jesus would have been a part of (I suspect, being a povershed man, he would have been asked to leave the same Church claiming to worship him!)

I have a deep suspicion that if we actually became involved in social issues more than we are, if we actually cared about evangelism as if God is finally answering that call to return today, and if we care about the quality of the relationships we develop with this world then the Church will, indeed, become extremely and exceptionally realistic and relevant for the outside world (including our youth!). Before anybody suggests otherwise, I am not saying that there are not people who take this seriously. There are a good number of Christians dedicated towards social issues which should be commended and recognized. You may be one of them. In fact, part of the problem is the degree to which these efforts are unknown to the outside world. It’s a blakently false statement, as some have implied, that Christians aren’t doing anything. There are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, which are. But I think it’s quite obvious that if we compare what Christians in the Majority World are doing with the the Western Church is doing, we can really make a call on who is actually living in ways which make outsiders wonder what this whole Christianity thing is really about. If we started to care about AIDS victims, if we started to care about sex trafficking, if we started to care about abortion, poverty, starvation, orphans, and a million other issues in the same way that we care about tax percentages or gas prices then, indeed, we might see more change in the way that the world sees us.

Now the question is, of course, one of practicality and pragmatism. My challenge to you is to take a social issue this year. For the next 6 months learn about it, read about it, set aside donations for it, and begin to work it with your heart and strength. Know the issue well. Listen to God and let him point you to where you need to go and what you need to do and I promise you he will. The other day I approached my wife with an issue which has been on my heart for the past six months. I suggested we, as a team, start to learn about and involve ourselves in the abolition of sex trafficking. Any hesitancy that I had towards this was removed when no less than five minutes later my wife opened up a piece of mail from an organization built to free those stuck in sex trafficking. The Jews didn’t have Hebrew word for coincidence. We don’t either.

 

14 thoughts on “How Christians Can Win Back My Generation

  1. “God’s view of sexuality must include at least the possibility for life, not the determined preclusion of it.”

    What are you talking about? You aren’t God. You don’t get tell people what God’s view of sexuality is. You’re just making stuff up.

    So I guess older people and sterile people should forever abstain from sex for no reason?

    You could also just accept your fellow men for who they are rather than condemning their natural sexuality. I don’t care that you aren’t as extreme as other Christians. It’s still the kind of talk that has led gay kids everywhere to suffer self-hatred, depression, and suicide. If you honestly want a “moderate Christianity” that actually appeals to modern people, give up your homophobia immediately and never look back.

    • Michael,

      I want to first issue an apology. Upon re-reading my post, I’m not convinced that it was even the time or place for that. In mentioning my ethics on the issue I was actually trying to find some common ground with Christians that would otherwise immediately dismiss me as a “ranting liberal” not worth listening to. But re-reading my post I’m not sure there was anything necessarily requiring me to say anything at all about homosexuality. If you wouldn’t mind, I would like to edit the post but I will leave the comments here as evidence that I originally brought the issue up. Your comment made me realize that if this is what stands out from the article than by mere mention of the issue I may, in fact, be losing the entire purpose which was not to talk about homosexuality but to talk about Christians getting more involved in social justice issues. I don’t want people to get hung up on a sexual ethic. I want them to be inspired to donate and get involved in things like AIDS and starvation.

      But I don’t want to use the above as an excuse to edit and not explain my comment. I made it and it deserves some fleshing out. Now, I am not trying to say “this is what any conception of God must be.” It doesn’t. But the purpose was two fold: 1) To suggest that any arbitrary rejection of any sexuality is not good enough…If anyone is going to say “this is the way it should be” than they need to have some sort of overriding explanation for it; 2) At the same time, as much as I am a moderate Christian, I also can’t go the full route of picking and choosing parts that I like and don’t like. Some people do. I am not comfortable with that and have a hard time seeing any justification for that process. The question is what is scripture speaking about and where is it infallible? The words, perhaps no. I’m not in inerrantist. But a core tenet of Christianity has always been that scripture is infallible in what it means or touches and in relation to the OT, what it reaffirms in the NT. I have spent many many hours looking in anguish for why scripture teaches what it does about homosexuality and what has continued to impress itself on me is that from Genesis to Revelation there is an overriding concept of “life.”

      Let me qualify this by saying four things: 1) I am not homophobic in the least…friends of mine will testify to that…the whole “well I just don’t like that” mentality has never been mine and never will; 2) I passionately reject the ways that many Christians have spoken of homosexuals and homosexuality (for the record, society in general isn’t out of that loop either)…My guess is that the harsh and evil language used by many end up portraying any dissent (for whatever reasons) as a personal attack. It’s not. No rhetoric of any kind should put anybody in any situation to even think that they’re ‘diseased’ or ‘messed up’ 3) I would not suggest that abstaining from sex is the solution for older or sterile people…There is perhaps a difference between functional and ontological sexual identity. Besides, I have known several people who were told they were barren who were surprised to find themselves pregnant; 4) The two biggest questions that need to be asked are whether the Church should involve itself in legislating morality for non-Christians (I don’t think so) and whether any sexuality is genetically natural (I would argue that it’s more environmentally and sociologically based). On that last point, I think the entire way conservatives approach homosexuality needs to shift dramatically. I think it is extremely questionable whether Christians should be telling the states what non-religious people’s sexual ethics should be.

      Paul, for example, when touching the issue of homosexuality never makes a statement about how the Romans or the Greeks should conform to the Church’s ethics. He is concerned with in-house issues. Jesus affirms that YHWH’s created order was man and woman. But this is all he says. And like Paul he says nothing about the Romans or the Greeks. His concern seems to what his followers will hold to. But what many Christians fail to realize is the simple fact that homosexuality is often times elevated to some sort of “deal-breaker” status wherein we like to ignore those other sins like divorce, greed, pride, gluttony, drunkenness, etc. Why is it that we ignore habitual porn addiction in the pastorate and then turn around and make such a big deal out of homosexuality in secular society? That shouldn’t be the case.

      In the same vein, to elevate homosexuality beyond other issues is nothing that Jesus or Paul would do either. Jesus spent more time pronouncing an ethic against divorce (something we generally ignore) while the modern church spends too much time making an issue out of homosexuality (which Jesus, except by an implicit statement) ignored. This seems odd to me. I believe that if the Church started to deal with in-house issues first (what are the Church’s ethics?) and stopped trying to tell the non-Christian world how to behave than, perhaps, we would see great strides on both sides.

      But beyond that, and to the main point of this blog, Jesus spent the majority of his time pronouncing love, the Kingdom of God, and healing the hurting. These all went hand in hand. There are such things as scriptural ethics and I think they deserve legitimate–not closed minded–discussions. But I don’t see Jesus’ or Paul’s or any other apostle’s platform being anti-gay; I see it as healing the sick and serving the world. We simply have not done a good job of that as of late.

      If you would like, shoot me an e-mail. I’d be willing to talk about this further.

      • Quite frankly, I don’t care to discuss it further. You betray yourself by continually relating gay issues as “Christians legislating against non-Christians.” Clearly, you think this is related somehow.

        Gee, I wonder why people are leaving the church!

        • What I said, Michael, is that the Church has a right to abide by the standards set out in scripture for itself. If you disagree, then you are making the same mistake many fundamentalists make by insisting that the Church drive state issues.

          If scripture makes statements about homosexuality in the Church, then yes, it becomes something part of the Church’s definition and it has the right as it’s own authority to hold onto those ethics, despite the fact that you or others may disagree.

          But my point in my last post (btw, you have so far ignored the majority content in both the main post and almost everything in my comment response), was that it is a question to be had whether the Church should be involved in gay issues for non-Christians.

          Thus, I am speaking about two issues: homosexuality in the Church and homosexuality outside of the Church.

          • Yes, and what you don’t seem to understand is that anything less than full tolerance of homosexuality is increasingly going to be a dealbreaker for more and more people. Because society is going to progress with or without you.

            If that is irreconciliable with your beliefs then I don’t see how you can complain about people leaving the church. If you aren’t going to adapt then you will perish, and with probably enough speed that your own children will vehemently disagree with you. I hope this occurs, and I say that with plenty of vitriol.

          • Unless Christians turn their back on Scriptural teachings and completely accept Michael’s worldview without question, Christianity will end. But if they do give up their errant ways and succumb to your threats, it will finally succeed as a world religion. Did I get that right Michael?

            Michael, Christianity has gone through about 2000 years of severe abuse, predictions of demise, annihilation of populations, those who would derail it through misdirection, an abolition under threat of the spear. Thanks for your concern, but I think it will survive a modern day political and even a social movement to accept homosexuality as a viable lifestyle.

            Societies have “progressed” ( to use your terminology) and found their way again (to use mine) time and time again. The prophets of demise are too numerous to bother with and are long forgotten recycled dust while the Scriptures remain. No disrespect intended despite your self-stated hate and attempt at a curse. I’ll take my chances and stick with Scripture proven over time and against tyrants instead of the prophecies and threats of Michael of the Internet.

  2. So I am confused. This is a complete dealbreaker with you? Homosexuality being a viable lifestyle is irreconciliable with the Christian religion, and forces you to throw out your scripture? I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting that kind of response at all from you, but it certainly was enlightening.

    Anyway, have fun with that. Good talk.

    • I’d just like to point out what a wonderful example this is of why people are leaving Chrustianity. I can’t imagine a better illustration. You practically outlined exactly how scripture takes precedence over reality.

      • Well, Michael, if Christianity does not correspond to reality than I am in favor of people leaving it. I am not suggesting by any means that Christianity is just a feel good religion which we should adopt, even though it’s false. If it’s true, than it’s claims about reality need to be highly consider, and more likely accepted if, in fact, there is an authority to scripture. One of those claims simply is that homosexuality is against God’s natural order. It makes no statement about psychology, social influence, familial influence, biology, etc. Those were foreign concepts. But it does emphasize the point about behavior for God’s people. Most people don’t have a clue why, and I think that it’s genuinely true that many people simply have homophobic tendencies about it. I don’t. My position is held trying to make sense of the tension between what my scripture’s state concerning sex and how we see things in everyday life. My understanding of orientation and sexual redemption of any kind work hand in hand. But in no way am I out in the streets making names and faces and gay people. I am against any shallow understanding of homosexuality. I am against and mistreatment or abuse, whether physical or legislative. You simply cannot take all of us and lump us in one camp. I have gay friends that I would absolutely call Christian. It’s not a “dealbreaker” over whether one’s a Christian or not. Any pastor that’s going to throw a homosexual out of his church will also have me leaving his church.

        But I think Dahny is right. As we know from sociology, religions have to by and large adapt to their surrounding cultures. We’ve seen, for example, three shifts of evangelicalism in the US in the past 100 years and we’re somewhere in the fourth one. Why? Because traditionalism doesn’t resonate with a postmodern culture. We adapt and we let go of things that we don’t find necessary. Starke and Finke argue, correctly, that religion’s influence and expansion must be seen in economic terms of cost/product. I am certain that within the next 60 years we’ll see Christians approach homosexuality and consider the cost of certain doctrines too high for the product. This will either force people to abandon it completely or reform it. Likely, we’ll see a good bit of both (as we see now), but probably an emphasis on the latter. The UM Church just held a major conference on this and debated it ferociously. While homosexuality is still relegated as outside of God’s natural order of sex, it was evident that Majority World (Africa, Asia, etc) Christians had a greater deal of biblical fidelity to this issue. So any adaptation that will be done will have to convince the Majority World of this point first.

        You may disagree and that is your right. But for the record, when you say stuff like ‘ If you aren’t going to adapt then you will perish, and with probably enough speed that your own children will vehemently disagree with you. I hope this occurs, and I say that with plenty of vitriol’ it simply does not help make your case. You’re only exchanging hate for hate.

        Alas, if you would like to continue this conversation I will suggest again that we carry this over into e-mail. So far none of the comments have dealt with purpose of this post.

        • Fine fine, how do I email you, by using the “Contact Us” thingy?

          And why did you just say “You’re only exchanging hate for hate”?? Aren’t you totally admitting hate on your part? The hell?

          • Yep. Contact form.

            No, I think I’ve tried hard to show that it’s not hate. But I recognize that you perceive it as such, so I was trying to work from your perspective. Looking forward to discussing this further.

  3. I think you have many valid points, particularly in your previous article. So accept that I agree with you in many respects, but wish to point out some questionable assumptions. You are fairly perceptive, but perhaps lack a broader view, and your writing suggests that like the rest of us, you are limited by our own experience and perspective.

    You are proud of your church and probably should be. It’s your church and the people there worship in a way that you approve of and that means something to you. As an adult in charge of where you go to church, I would expect nothing less. Yet I get the feeling that you are a bit myopic and critical of church leaders who don’t do things the way you think they should be done, and potentially put yourself in the unenviable position of becoming the very authority you are critical of.

    I’m happy that your minister feels comfortable in his own skin and hugged a homeless man. It shows empathy, love, respect, and sincerity. But did that homeless man attempt to change anything about the church service, how it functions, or derail the services in any way? Probably not. Things went on just the way they always do.

    I have no doubt that Jesus wearing his robe and sandals might raise a few eyebrows but would be okay visiting your church so long as he just sat there quietly. But what if he started asking the minister questions during the sermon or started correcting him as he spoke, as he was prone to do? What if he insisted on washing everyone’s feet or decided that your music wasn’t as inspiring or worshipful as the music he grew up with? Would you or your church accept that and just go with what he wanted, try to accommodate him, or ask him to tone it down or leave quietly? I’m not trying to pick a fight here, but wondering what you really think would happen.

    These are extreme examples, but it was to make a point that some of what you talk about in the variances between churches has to do with the selected worship style of those who go there. It is a uniquely Christian proposition that churches and even individual congregations vary the ways in which they worship, thus allowing that those who feel comfortable worshiping like that to have that choice. Such variances are not tolerated in other worship centers in other religions.

    Do Muslim teens in Iran tend to leave the Muslim faith because they’d rather wear jeans or kakis than traditional Muslim garb or because everyone performs the same chant they did 600 years ago? Of course not. So why assume that Christian youth would leave a church for such shallow things? I understand that worship style is often stated that reason, and perhaps even a point of sincere annoyance, gripes and discussion. But is it really the big bad demon in the room or just the one that is easiest to identify and the one that itches every Sunday morning? Is it the safest one to discuss rather than people getting into real problems? Sometimes things are said so often that they become the perception of the truth.

    I suggest the answer is much deeper than this. I’m not dismissing your concerns and thoughts, and these are things that need to be addressed. For most people who leave their faith, the dress pants vs jeans question isn’t the reason to kick a meaningful faith to the curb. Making changes may solve an annoyance, but does it really make the difference if something much more important and substantive is lost in the process?

    My point is this. It’s easy to criticize the dressed up traditional old guy and his worship because he’s easy pickings. Yet each has his reasons for their own style, whether that be clothing, hair, ways they connect with friends, or the way they worship. You have your style where you feel comfortable worshiping, and you have your reasons for showing up to church as you do. The man who puts on his suit and feels in his heart that he is honoring God more by laying out his best is right in his heart, and may therefore actually be sinning in his heart by showing up in flip-flops and shorts. Which of you is right about your own heart?

    In defense of “the old guy” church, let’s not forget that ceremony was and always has been very important in the church and that the God of Israel demanded the best. Feet were cleansed before walking into the temple, and perfumes applied. In the eyes of the man who puts on his suit and tie, for him, that may be part of an unrealized ceremonial preparation of the mind and body for worship. Let’s not be so quick to judge the hearts of others in the worship process, how they choose to keep their worship orderly, and in the context of those who gather there because they choose to worship similarly.

    I almost didn’t write on this, considering that you do have many other valid points, but since you spend about a third of your article on this subject and it is the focus of a lot of criticism in the church, I thought it worth talking about. Then I realized that this really is a huge topic. In many ways, it is an argument that is tearing at the fabric of the church without addressing any substantive issues. Such things are surface issues in people’s lives, and these can often take over the conversation. But does it really make any difference to anyone whether the church tradition is to be quiet while entering the sanctuary instead of conversational or to worshipful music?

    To be equal in criticism of the church, this is a point they leave untended. They tend to focus on building attendance roles and filling chairs, not on the best way of getting those people on their knees to do what worship is meant to do. Many churches do not change style as time and their congregations demand and they lose their members.

    Churches need to understand and encourage people to go wherever and however they are called to worship, even if it isn’t to their church. It’s a unique privilege that particularly western Christians have. Other religions of the world are pretty homogenous and whether you go into a temple in the US or Bangkok, you will likely see just about the same thing.

    We have that opportunity of diversity in worship experience, so a big question for me is, why don’t we tap into it? How strong would the western Christian church be if we acknowledged and encouraged the diversity, broadened our acceptance within an acceptable order of magnitude, and realized that the way we become closer to God’s heart is through the opportunity to worship a personal way that develops that personal relationship with God, whatever that form may be? How many young adults would be better served if their church said, “We understand you have different needs and we want to work with you and accommodate those needs, and if we still can’t manage, we want you to and will assist you in finding that which brings you close to God.” And how many frustrations would be solved if Christians would avail themselves of the alternative available worship alternatives rather than nitpick and tear apart their current church in order to change it.

    But I don’t lay this burden solely at the feet of the church either. Parents have a duty to see that their children are in a place of worship that they can grow and will feed them and engage them on all levels. I’m not suggesting that children should choose which church the family goes to. But parents should not sacrifice their children because they have friends at church or because of a misunderstood promise that kids will not depart from their faith.

    Parents also need to educate themselves. Parents who direct their kids to clergy who are no better at forming an argument than they are about the rightness of Christian worldview are all but asking their kids to walk away from faith.

    There are also many other reasons why people leave churches, but specifically with regard to younger people, you leave many things on the table, not the least of which is that each person must come to Christ on their own, separate and distinct from parental, church, and school upbringings. Few people just adopt their parents’ belief straight out of the box. And if they do, I find they are fairly lukewarm and wet-noodle Christians.

    I appreciate the process you went through to get to where you are at. You talk about stogy teachers and a few interesting incidents of Calvinistic stupidity. However, I would also suspect that you had many people in your life that served as an example (flawed, albeit) and largely lived what they said, even if you disagreed with it or questioned it. Whether they be parents, teachers, youth group leaders, or someone else who simply cared and you could respect (whether you agreed or disagreed with them), I’ll lay odds that they were far more important in your outcome than the ones that you remember who chastised you for your “non-belief”. And even if you continued to disagree with these people who you loved and respected, you also knew that they loved you anyway. So while you did have people who negatively influenced you, you undoubtedly had many people that you could look to. Yet like every other person, you had to make up your own mind.

    When I speak of hypocrisy, I don’t speak of that which humans are virtually incapable of avoiding because of sin and ignorance. I speak of that which we are virtually proud of without realizing that our kids take the deeper lesson learned.

    Parents who display their temper or let foul words come out of their mouth but think their kids won’t notice, naively think they are so careful with their words that their children will never hear them, or somehow reserve that right for themselves over their 4 yr old son, do so at the risk of their child’s respect, adherence, and they virtually ask for their child’s condemnation as a hypocrite. Ask any Sunday school teacher, and you’ll find they know a whole lot more about their families of the church than the families think or would like them to know. And you hear the words and thoughts that they hear expressed at home.

    I would tell parents, it’s not about the idea that you can arguably justify your language or verbal reactions to your own satisfaction. It’s what goes into the child’s brain, and it is worth considering the potential cost to them for you to defend your mouth or to redefine what’s right and wrong and risk sounding like you are qualifying your behavior. Fully expect the child/teen/young adult to do rewrite their own rules, just like mommy and daddy do, but not to just limit it to their mouth. Ask any youth group leader and you’ll find that they know far more about the families than even the Sunday school teacher.

    Humans are particularly good at justifying their own behavior and the justifications have been used and reused for millennia. “Yours is a different generation, and we’re different.” “Times have changed, and everyone does it differently now.” “Nobody I know cares if I act this way.” For these parents, I don’t understand why they are surprised when they hear their child’s voice coming from the other room, blessing out something or someone, and without a doubt, at the most embarrassing and least opportune time. The only remaining question they should ask themselves is, has the pattern been set in their brain? Parents’ actions (including what they say) are far more important than whether they can defend it or not.

    Parents who display their greed or lust outside the bounds of Biblical propriety show their kids they don’t believe what they say they believe. Children see right and wrong as black and white, not shades of gray where exceptions, explanations, and logical processes rule the day. They just see right and wrong, and when they get to be teens, their speedometer goes straight to 100 mph hypocrite in nothing flat. The question is not whether a child will see the adults in their life as hypocrites. They will. The question is whether they will be seen as accidental hypocrites or intentional hypocrites.

    Preachers who come up with a feel good message of the day but ignore the realities of sin and redemption because it’s easier that way or they might step on toes, teach kids that Christianity isn’t serious and they can get the same “feeling” from Buddhism, and they are also at fault. This is a widely growing phenomena and I point the finger for this directly at an ever growing number of pastors whose primary concern in running a church is to not risk offending anyone’s feelings and make the numbers grow. See Joel Osteen for more information.

    So if even the leaders of churches can’t give youth something meaningful and the adults they know are hypocrites by and large, what does a young person have besides traditions they don’t like?

    The bottom line is that nobody really knows what goes on in someone else’s life or their influences. I don’t believe we even necessarily know it for ourselves. We assume Katie grew up in a great Christian home because that’s what they say and what it looks like from the outside. Katie might even think it’s representative of the Christian faith because she is limited to the scope of her perception. Is it possible that some kids might have blown off Christianity because they say they didn’t get to hear a guitar at church or get to wear their jeans? They might even believe it because it speaks to outside influences as the fault over the sinful nature of their own heart. Or is it that they couldn’t see anything meaningful beyond what they wore to church and if the music was their style?

    I don’t believe the problem is with style at all, though it never hurts to make accommodations. It’s about substance. Do kids get their questions answered, or are they put off because the adults don’t know and don’t care to find out? Are the adults in their life the people they should be and expressing this in ways that the kids can understand?

    I do believe you are right on with becoming involved. Churches have lost the meaning of becoming involved in their community. Young or old, churches need to be seen as relevant in the world. This means working on two fronts, service to those who go there and outreach into the community with no expectation that this will generate new congregation members. I’ll leave alone what I think about these church missions where everyone has to raise $3000 to spend a week in some poor village painting a mud hut, but you can probably guess.

    Everyone can do something, even if they must say no to something else in their life that is less meaningful. Churches and people in general tend to get lost in the normalcy of daily life, stay in their comfort zone, and follow the pattern. It’s not just churches or Christians living their daily lives in general. Planning is essential to efficiency, but it often means that we put things on auto-pilot, and then little gets done that doesn’t have to be done. Ask the parents of any child and you’ll hear how life has surprisingly taken over their lives. It takes effort, deliberate intent, and

    • Hey Dahny,

      Thanks for the thoughts! I was able to read through it but won’t be able to offer a response until this weekend…But you equally raise some good points worthy of consideration. Until this weekend!

      Randy

  4. Involvement with social issues will never replace individual character and virtue.

    It is all too easy to become involved in a social issue and denounce all others who do not agree with a particular political view point – either right or left.

    As for the suit and tie men who are mocked and ridiculed, that is another easy thing to do. Mocking those who dress traditionally is just another form of bigotry, and it is all so trivial. Besides, the trend now is to dress down to prove humility – which is absurd.

    The real issue is personal holiness and goodness. There is nothing as powerful. And that includes all the trends and political movements and new issues that convince people to despise those who disagree – either right OR left.

    Goodness is the most powerful force in the world.

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