It has been several years ago now, but I was once speaking with a children’s director at a church in Maryland about kids ministry. While talking, this man pointed to a picture on the wall in a classroom that really bothered him. It was a picture of Noah’s Ark, similar to this one…
Our day is a day of controversy. Our society is plagued with gender dysphoria, the loss of basic human rights, and the total misperception of personal identity. Many of these issues, along with countless others, would have been outrageous to suggest a few decades ago, and while the church largely stands united on many of these fronts, there is one issue that seems to stand out when one considers how many churches today draw up lines of disagreement, especially over the last few months. That issue deals with the role of women in ministry and consequently draws into question the historic mistreatment of women both within and without the church.
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.
A troubling reality that the church faces today is the alarming number of young adults who forsake the faith, despite their Christian upbringing. If you were raised in church or attended a Christian school, I’m sure you can think of some examples (I know I can). We could spend a lot of time considering all the contributing factors for this troubling trend, but I want to focus on one factor specifically: the way we describe the world to our youth.
Christians have idols that we love to hate, at least superficially, like materialism or pride. For some reason these are the idols that are the ones that typically get the “amens” and “that’ll preach” comments when the pastor serves up a message about them. But for some reason, there are certain idols that we just love to love. Were the pastor to preach on an inordinate love of conservative politics, or the American dream, or the nuclear family I’d venture a guess that we wouldn’t hear as many “amens” during that sermon. Yet, even the good and well-intentioned things that we do as Christ-followers can become idols if we allow them become so prominent that Christ loses His preeminence in our lives.
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