When I was in college and grad school, people would often ask what I wanted to do with my Bible degree. At the time, I would tell them, “Youth pastor.” They would normally then ask, “Interesting. So why do you think we’re losing the next generation?” It’s a common question—one that I’ve given a fair amount of thought to. It’s a personal question—I have names and faces of people who grew up in the same Christian environment I did who have taken very different paths. And it’s a critical question: Why are we losing the future of Christianity?
In all my time pondering this question, I have come up with what, in my mind, are two primary reasons we are losing the next generation. There are no doubt other factors, and I might be overstating my case, but I want to take a minute and share with you why I think I see why my friends leaving Christianity.
Eight years ago, I tried to watch Game of Thrones: Season 1. A few episodes in, I put the DVDs back in the case and returned them. I had seen enough. Besides being disturbed by the nihilistic violence and rape, I felt the story of Westeros wasn’t going anywhere meaningful, and I was right. Over the years I have followed the show in the news and observed people’s reaction to it. It’s hard to ignore a piece of culture that has sparked so many interesting conversations between believers and non-believers alike. As our culture collectively obsesses over the airing of the final season, it’s apparent to me the story still hasn’t gone anywhere and has nowhere satisfying to go. Unless the show’s creators pull a rabbit out of a hat, I sense that millions of GoT viewers will be left with an empty feeling in the pits of their stomachs after the final episode airs. They will find themselves yearning for a deeper meaning that will never come.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” It reminds me that Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, understands my struggle. As I am tempted, I can look to the throne of grace where my great High Priest sympathizes with my weakness. What a baffling and glorious truth that God in flesh can look at my struggle and can honestly say, “I know what you’re going through.”
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