Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Young Adults and Todays Church

A lot can be said about why today's young people are leaving the church, why nearly 1 in 5 adults have no religious affiliation,* and why our churches are full of lifeless adults who like to attend services but rarely get involved in unplanned spontaneous Holy Spirit induced service. I have read the opinions, the books, and listened to the excuses over and over. But as I have told our church and my family time and time again, unless one has a living, vital, and always ready and obedient  relationship with Christ there will be no or very little Real Christian Life seen. God did not call us to be wall-flowers in the church building. He called us to love one another and to serve all who will allow it in the name of Christ. We are called to take the message of reconciliation to the world. We are called to fulfill the calling for which we were saved. We often think it was just heaven but that is only a byproduct, He called us to be enlisted in His army and to be His ambassadors of living, functional, genuine truth. What will it take to motivate the church to action? That said, please read the following post from a twenty-one year old going by Daniel, written about six months back, in response to an article concerning why youth are leaving the church.** It's my hope that what he has voiced will strike a chord in evangelicals today.

"[Below I use the term "church" as the institution that it has come to be. To clarify, I believe Christ's body is the complete opposite of today's institutional church. The first is alive and led by the Spirit, the second is dying and led by the flesh.] (sic)

I'm sorry, but I think the focus (of the article) is completely on the wrong subject. You know why people are leaving the "church"? Because it's dead as a doornail. It is the Sardis of Revelation chapter 3. You (Church leaders) want to make "vibrant churchmen and churchwomen", yet I don't think Jesus ever worried too much about that. He wanted disciples, brothers and sisters who knew Him intimately, who desired to follow and obey Him. We need to wake up! We're building our own little empires, forming nice little programs, teaching cutesy Sunday school classes, quoting the latest pop culture reference in order to be 'modern' and 'relevant'. Its sickening to be honest. I'm 21 years old and you know what we really want? We don't want your church institution, we want something real and living, something that is not superficial. We want something worth living and dying for. I found that is Jesus Christ He's the One who took hold of me and wouldn't let go. You know why my generation isn't staying in these "churches"? Because you've never actually introduced us to Christ. You've never shown that He is the center of all existence, because in your pursuit to be modern you have truly abandoned the gospel. Yes there is "becoming all things for all people", but do you think that meant compromising the gospel of Jesus Christ? I think not. There are two main reasons why people leave the church:

One - Because they don't love Jesus, therefore they have no reason to want to assemble with anyone else that does. They realize that the church is just a social club, after going to college they see that they can have the same things (pizza, movies, and games) without having to listen to a "youth pastor" trying to be their friend (I would laugh if it wasn't so pitiful, not to mention the fact that there is no Scriptural support for a youth pastor).

Two - They are truly saved and wish to live for Christ, and because of this they realize even more that the church is a social club. Since it will stunt their growth with it (sic) man-made traditions and controlling leadership (that reflect nothing of the "servant leaders" that Jesus describes in Matthew, Mark, and Luke) they leave. In their pursuit of Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, they cannot stay locked in a place that largely ignores the Scriptures in order to continue doing its "church" activities.

I have seen what the true body of Christ looks like, it's made up of simple people, hungry people, not great big buildings with charismatic leaders on an ego trip. It's made up of those who love Jesus, who have been accepted by Him, therefore they accept everyone whom He has accepted (Romans 15:7). They are found in every city, they are only known by the life of Christ that is in them.

My friends, the question is not, "What keeps people in the church system?" The question is, "What's wrong with the church system?" I believe it is corrupted in every way, because it is mostly fleshly and devoid of the Spirit, so solidified in its ways that it cannot allow any freedom of expression (since when can someone stand up and share a teaching, tongue, interpretation, revelation, or song [1 Cor. 14:26]?) Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and quite frankly there is little to no liberty in the "churches". Nonetheless, there is still the body of Christ, people are beginning to meet together, they are gathering by the Spirit, and their focus is solely on Christ Jesus our Lord and King.

We're trying to convert people to the church, the Holy Spirit is trying to convert them to Jesus. There's a world of difference between the two. Let's stop trying to keep people in the "church", (and) instead lead them to Jesus Christ, teach them to be led by the Holy Spirit, and let us together follow in His footsteps as we take up our crosses."

There you have it. A twenty-one year old who has a passionate relationship with Christ. All the programs in the world will not teach anyone how to withstand in the day of evil. Pick your "evil" because many are the afflictions of the righteous. A strong teaching, caring, and loving "in the Name of Jesus" church body will move move mountains by faith. "We can say we have a strong teaching staff." "We have a strong caring community." But are the things you teach the things that glorify God and point one toward the sanctified life in the Spirit? Do they urge people to seek God first in all things? Do you teach your congregations how to defend the faith? To always be ready in season and out to give a reason for the hope that is in you? Do the things you care for emulate the things Jesus would care for as revealed in Scripture? These are the things we need to evaluate if we ever want to be part of a church that does not have "Ichabod" written over the entryway.

May this post be food for thought.
God Bless

* "Nones" on the Rise Accessed Jan. 6th 2014 http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/
** 3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don't Leave the Church Accessed Jan. 6th 2013 http://www.churchleaders.com/youth/youth-leaders-articles/159175-3-common-traits-of-youth-who-don-t-leave-the-church.html?p=3