This article puts forward “10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church.” I’ll highlight four of the reasons below, in case you don’t read the full article.
10. “The Church is ‘Relevant.’”
That’s right. Relevance can be a detractor. I’m not against relevance. Far from it. And I hate to set relevance up against transcendence, but I think I have to do just that. When we bring God down too often, too much . . . well, he becomes merely relevant in our minds and not transcendent and glorious and mysterious. There is a balance to be struck here. (For more thoughts on relevance and “keepin’ it real,” go here, and then there are three succeeding posts on the topic.)
Now, if you think your church’s efforts are all “conteporvant,” you can watch this video that’s been out for a while . . . and then I hope you have the good humor to say, “Touché!”
7. “You sent them out unarmed.”
It does seem that our younger Christian siblings are increasingly ignorant of the hinges, the underpinnings, the basic tenets of the faith. (N.B. “the faith” = the Christian faith, not particular denominational dogmas superimposed on scripture.) My ministry emphases are somewhat more Bible-based than Solas’s appear in the original article, but the point is similar: more and more, we know less and less about where we come from.
Marc5Solas is right in saying that community is available in many places. If it is community that we’re selling — no matter how good “ours” is — it’s not enough.
1. “They don’t need it.”
It is asserted that young people simply may not feel they need the Christian church.
“If church is simply a place to learn life-application principals [sic] to achieve a better life in community… you don’t need a crucified Jesus for that. . . .
“We’ve traded a historic, objective, faithful gospel based on God’s graciousness toward us for a modern, subjective, pragmatic gospel based upon achieving our goal by following life strategies.”
Preach on, “Marc5Solas”! If faith is not founded on historically attested, objectively derived facts, it won’t stand — not for those of us who are more left-brained (for lack of a better description), anyway. I can identify multiple, Christian “honors students” who have lost, or are losing, their faith while in college. These — and all of us, really — need something real and reasonable to hold onto, over and above mere tradition. Academic studies¹ in philosophy and theology and church history may keep intelligent young people tethered for a while, but they also may be pushed away, while engaged in these very pursuits. I suggest that there has not been enough solid, objective reality in their faith-instruction while growing up.
In a previous phase of life, I had many great opportunities to connect with high school students. Currently, I don’t. So, how can I do my part to avert the mass exodus of young adults? At least, I can do better with my own child. Toward that end, I commend statements of resolve from an old family friend, with whom I’ve recently reconnected — Erin Selby Reinstein. In the last part of this blogpost of hers, Erin and her husband state some parenting goals. Not all of them are directly related to the spiritual, but they’re all worth the attention of those who care about bringing up young people.
¹ Incidentally, in case any readers are deceived on this point: Calvinism doesn’t have a corner on scholarship in Christendom. There are lots of intelligent people out there — yes, some Arminians and neo-protestants like me — who have reasonable things to say about the Christian faith.