Young people are leaving the organised Church at an alarming rate. Well, it’s alarming to those who want to keep them ‘in’, anyway.
Here’s what my friend Phil Drysdale has to say on the issue:
The issue isn’t that Christian leaders don’t know why young people are leaving the church. No, young people are telling us very clearly why.
It’s that these types of answers require too much of a change for the average leader to be able to deal with.
My three big takeaways from this are:
1) Many young people today aren’t looking for certainty half as much as they are looking for a place to explore their doubts safely.
2) Many young people don’t see getting people out of the world and into the church as a primary goal. They care about loving the world and want to see Christians go out into it and make it a better place, without an agenda.
3) Many young people aren’t scared of the world or facts, they are happy to reinterpret their faith and its texts in light of newly discovered truth. A church that is unable to do so will lose them quickly.
I fully agree with all this. I have some comments too, as you might imagine.
You see, this sort of thing always attracts the inevitable responses from hardline, rigid and unbending* leaders who hold the ‘word of god’ ** above everything else, insisting that it’s not the ‘word’ that needs to change, but the ‘world’.
‘Oh well, it’s not us that say it, but it’s the Bible’.
‘This is what god says, not us. We can’t change what god says just because we don’t like it’
‘Don’t blame me, it’s the Bible wot sez it. I can’t change what the Bible says. ‘
‘The Bible has a timeless message; it’s not our fault that the times are changing away from its message. It’s the world that is going the wrong way’.
‘I’m not going to sugarcoat what the Bible says just because that would make me/it more popular’
‘It’s not about making the Bible more acceptable; it’s about telling people the hard truth’
And so on ad nauseam.
Maybe they should do a little thinking as to just why people no longer think the Bible is relevant…it’s not the Bible that’s at fault; it’s the attitudes of the people who brandish it. Who wants to be like one of these dull, grey, boring, joyless people?*** Evangelical Christianity is the worst advert for God there is, particularly when combined with the (mainly Old Testament-based) doctrines they espouse. And let’s face it, many of them are nasty about it; they are judgemental and condemning and almost gleeful about the idea of seeing those with whom they don’t agree burning in ‘hell’. And that comes out in their lives and in their interpersonal attitudes. Again, who wants to be like that? Jesus maybe should have said, “They shall know you are My disciples in that you judge one another”. Not.
Of course, I appreciate that not all Christians are like that. But the ones that get the publicity are indeed like that, and they are a terrible advert for Jesus. Again, “You shall be My bad witnesses throughut Judea and Samaria and into the whole world”. Not.
Instead, God continues His work in the hearts and lives of ordinary people all around the world, while Evangelicalism continues to pray for a future ‘great awakening’ which is already happening all around them and they can’t see it. It’s like Moses not being allowed into the Promised Land. Served him right, though, he was a prat.
Sadly, I have no pity for these people. Their own insecurities, and their unbending attitudes in response to those insecurities, render them unable to merge effectively into the very society they are trying to influence. ‘Hard truth’ can never be called ‘Good News’. But I am grateful for what their prayer has brought to birth – the new revival of Grace that is quietly and unobtrusively sweeping the world.
Shame they can’t see it.
*Rigid and unbending; hence, the header picture of a rigid steel joist (RSJ) 😉
**Lower-case use of initial letters intentional.
***Obviously I know that not all Christians are like this. But my rant, as always, is against those who are like this 😀