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…
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.
Dear Christian Teen,
I’m sure you made some incredible memories at Christian Camp this summer. Good friends, good fun, and new experiences are all part of what camp so memorable! But there’s two things about summer camp that typically don’t last: camp romances and camp ‘decisions.’ Now that your starting up school again, chances are that girl/boy you met at camp has probably moved on, and that life-changing spiritual decision you made after the Thursday evening chapel service has moved along as well. Now you’re back in “normal life,” surrounded by your normal friends and your normal habits.
Dear Parents of Teenagers,
Thank you for all you do to invest in the life of your teenager(s). You probably feel like you are constantly juggling multiple hats. You are the taxi driver (ready to pick them up/drop them off at whatever they need to be at), coach (helping them perfect that jump shot or throw that strike), personal tutor (working with them to finally get that math concept down), guidance counselor (preparing them to have future success) and, sometimes, motivational speaker (just trying to get them to get up and do something). You are all these and so much more!
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