Sobering information from the Gallup Poll today, marking the first time in nearly a century that less than half of Americans formally belong to a church. This news should come as no surprise to most professing Christians as this warning has been coming for quite some time. The book You Lost Me by David Kinnaman came out in 2016. I wonder how many pastors read it. We are not reaching the younger generations with the truth they need to hear. What is standing in the way?
What is it that the younger generations say to us grown Christians more than anything? They say we don’t listen. We don’t hear. We aren’t paying attention. Maybe we aren’t. Perhaps a little humility is what the church needs to turn this ship around. What are we doing that is causing us to turn a deaf ear?
The American Church Is Not Responding To The Real Issues
What are our young people dealing with today that makes them question Christianity or any faith at all? Perhaps the answer to that question is not as complicated as we want to pretend it is. If we seek to know what to teach them about Christianity that will make a difference, we have to listen to the issues to know what scripture to apply to the problem. We can assume the issues that plague them, or we can ask. Asking your youth group what they want to be taught about may be pretty eye-opening. Give it a try.
What are our younger people being taught at school today? First of all, unless these kids are at a Christian school or university, they aren’t being taught anything Biblically based at all. Too much pressure is put on younger people to excel in school and do all they can to get into the best college possible. Why are we surprised then when they value what they learn in school over what we teach in church and at home? We have been pointing to education as the most important thing in life for most of their lives. If we want them to value their Christianity over all else, we have to make it more important than a career choice.
American Christians Need To Get Over Being Challenged
All too often, when a younger person challenges or questions faith, they are met with fierce indignation. The position most American Christians take in this scenario is one of offense, anger, sarcasm, and criticism. None of those are helpful.
When people raise objections in a conversation, they are not usually looking to find fault. They are trying to gain more information to understand why you have the position you do. While some who challenge faith may sound critical, the correct response as a Christian shouldn’t be to respond in kind. If we want to help people understand Jesus better, we have to check our egos at the door. We are not there to win an argument. We are there to provide an opportunity for an unbeliever to hear the truth.
When we accepted Christ, we did not join a debate team. We were sent to proclaim the good news of the gospel. Our message to unbelievers should be one of excitement, not anger.
“Currently, 31% of Millennials have no religious affiliation, which is up from 22% a decade ago,” Gallup reported. “Similarly, 33% of the portion of Generation Z that has reached adulthood have no religious preference.”
Build A Bridge Instead Of Digging A Moat
Amazing things happen when we decide to let people into our lives. The lost of the world varies as much as fish in the sea, yet God says to fish for them. He tells us to go and tell them they are loved. Some of those people are about as lovable as a cranky porcupine, but that shouldn’t stop us from loving them. God loved us at all our most unlovable points in life. He was the bridge to Himself. He did not turn us away, even when we wanted to reject Him.
It is a natural reaction to try to dig a moat around the church and protect the younger people from being further influenced by the outside world. What would be more beneficial for the church is to throw the doors wide open and invite people to be part of the conversation.