Much of my focus is on what the church can do to reclaim a generation that is leaving the church, faith, or Christ at a breakneck pace. I focus on the church end because that is the only thing I can personally do to help. I do believe the church has the responsibility on taking the first move toward them in order to reach them rather than just sit and hope some day they “get it” and come back with none of our own issues being addressed or resolved. So that is why my focus tends to be there.
However, the burden is not solely on the church when it comes to reaching young adults. They have a burden as well. When Christ’s call comes to someone it is a call to change. That is why it is called conversion because it is a drastic change, resurrection even. You can’t go from the world to faith in Christ and be unchanged. Being a Christian is not an easy thing, especially when you have been in the world and lived like the world for some time. Making the jump is a call to a tremendous amount of change and they need to be cut to the heart and repentant in order to make that leap. So we need to be patient with them while still calling them to a Christ-like life. That means there is a burden on them and not 100% on the church.
The reasons they leave are not just because the church has really goofed up and missed the boat and because young adults are so level headed and pure that they just can’t be a part so they abandon it. They have issues too. We have to be honest about that. Here are some reasons on their end:
- Sin – Some don’t want to come back because they know the life they are living is not compatible with the Christian faith. It will require change and they just don’t want to do that yet. We can’t change that.
- Guilt – Some know that coming back will require them to face the guilt that has weighed on them for years. They believe church will intensify that guilt rather than alleviate it.
- Change – Most people fear some types of change. Change is not fun or easy, especially when you are talking about changing the core of who you are. That is a big thing to ask of someone. They know that returning to church, faith, etc will require change and the tension is so great that many would rather stick with the new life they have formed rather than think about making such a drastic change.
- Faith – There are many in this generation who never were Christians to begin with and they must be reached. We can get so focused on all those who have left that we forget there are many who never had a chance to begin with. To be honest, this can be a tough group to reach, not because they aren’t open to the conversation but because they seem even more different and distant from us on the surface. At least those who grew up in church have a baseline knowledge we can tap into, even though there may be hard feelings, we still recognize ourselves more with them than we do the unchurched.
- Awkwardness – They wonder how they will be received and what people will say and ask. Some won’t come unless someone has already reconnected with them outside church so that they know someone there is already in their corner.
- Satan – It is important to remember that Satan stands in opposition to this whole process of reaching and reclaiming a lost generation. This is a fight and it won’t be easy. We have to recognize that.
- Tim Keller’s Defeater Beliefs – really important to be familiar with this. A must read.
- “Economic realities. Young people are graduating & not getting the start to their careers that they’d hoped for. http://www.esquire.com/features/young-people-in-the-recession-0412 (from Philip’s comment on the last post)”
- “Virtual connectivity. People have all sorts of digital connections with people. They’re simply not as lonely & in need of companionship in ways that the Church used to provide. (from Philip’s comment on the last post)”
- “Virtual escapism. Pornography, gaming, sports, fan fiction, you name it. Hobbies are deeper & way more complex than ever thanks to the internet. Sex is easier to access & cheaper than the way the Church prescribes. People would rather self-soothe into these forms of escapism rather than confront their own spiritual corruption in community. (from Philip’s comment on the last post)”