I’m going to give you a quote from a recent article on CNN and let you think about it for a moment. Once you’ve done that please continue reading and we’ll discuss what I think it means and why it is important.
“Christianity in the United States hasn’t done a good job of engaging serious Christian reflection with young people, in ways that would be relevant to their lives.” said L. Gregory Jones, a senior strategist for leadership education at Duke University in North Carolina.
If you would like to read the whole story (which I recommend) the article in question can be found here. http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/12/living/pew-religion-study/index.html
It’s an article about young people and millennials (the “millenial” generation is defined by most as people born between 1981 and 1997) in particular leaving the church. What’s interesting is that the article states that many of the millenials who now claim no faith or religious affiliation were raised in homes where the parents claimed to be Christian. The takeaway being that this generation has in large part rejected the faith of their fathers in favor of a much different world view.
While it is the atheists and those who outright reject belief in God who often get most of the attention in Christian circles the article goes on to state that many more millenials profess to be agnostic or unsure about their belief in God rather than atheistic. And even among those who profess to believe in God they are still leaving church pews empty because they do not find the traditional church service and church programs to be relevant or engaging. Another quote from the article is relevant here:
“If it is the case that millennials are less ‘atheists’ than they are ‘bored,’ then serious engagements with Christian social innovation, and with deep intellectual reflection (and these two things are connected), would offer promising signs of hope,” Jones said.
The truly amazing thing about all of this to me is that a vibrant, growing faith in Jesus Christ is the most relevant and engaging experience that a human being could ever hope to be a part of and somehow “the church” has made it seem boring, old fashioned, misguided and not at all relevant. And lest we cast all of the blame at the churches’ feet we have to remember that a good portion of the millennials that this article is addressing were raised in homes where the parents claimed to be Christians. Since education starts in the home and God’s Word tells us that if we “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) then what we really have is a failure to educate and train our kids both at church AND in the home.
I don’t think this is a new problem, either. I think this is a problem that is as old as humanity and Christianity. The devil is always going to come after family units and will always try to distract us in any way that he possibly can and he’s been doing that for thousands of years. The fact that we have more media coverage and more distractions nowadays is just causing the problem to get more attention and more coverage.
But make no mistake, we do have a problem. We, as Christ’s church and Christ’s body need to do a better job at communicating why the gospel is still so relevant and so powerful. We need to emphasize the relational aspect of our faith with a loving heavenly father who has forgiven our sins and longs for us to be with Him. And we need to be bold in proclaiming that not making a decision is the same as rejecting God and carries grave consequences for an eternity without hope.