Category Archives: 20s & 30s

Review of Called to Stay by Caleb Breakey

Called2Stay-BreakeyThere are a lot of books out there on why 20s & 30s are leaving the church and leaving Christianity. Many of them are descriptive of the problem. Of the books that have a prescriptive focus, most are about what the church needs to do to reach this group. “Called to Stay” is different than most because it is prescriptive but toward the young adults. Breakey is an ex-sports writer turned Christian author. This book is Caleb Breakey’s encouragement of Millenials to continue attending traditional church and make a difference.

He calls this approach “infiltration.” Infiltration” seems like Breakey’s way of getting young people interested in his approach. It sounds clandestine and subversive and adventurous. I guess in some ways it is, as change often produces conflict but what Breakey is really describing and prescribing is a lot more tame than infiltration (he isn’t writing this to outsiders…these are disgruntled insiders who are thinking about leaving). The book is actually a guide on how to take their faith seriously among people you disagree with in order to be a catalyst for change. He does an excellent job on describing for young people just how to do that. The problem is, usually trying to instigate real, deep and meaningful change is a slow, hard and near impossible road unless you have fantastic, grace filled, open, loving and patient church leadership. See Frank Viola’s thoughts on How to/Not to Leave a Church. I would encourage any young person who reads “Called to Stay” to also read Frank’s thoughts as well.

The best thing that could be done with this book is to toss all the manifesto language and exchange it for more language about just being like Christ. It is all in there, it just needs repackaged. The reason it needs repackaged is that this infiltration language can easily lead to an attitude of elitism that can be deadly to the very purposes this book is trying to convey. It can easily lead people to an “us vs. them” mentality that makes reconciliation more difficult to accomplish. This elitist air came across most to me in the evaluation he proposes a young adults uses on their congregation (found on pages 118-123) where you are supposed to use a Likert scale to evaluate your church’s love for Jesus with a breakdown at the end of what various point totals mean for the church and what you are probably going to need to do. The problem is, how you could actually rank a church in many of the areas he includes would be difficult to do objectively, especially if you are already frustrated. The book could have done without that section as it gives young people even more reasons to be critical and could definitely hurt the mending process rather than help it.

All in all, good principles and good practices are described. I just think the approach gets cluttered up and confusing based on the terms he uses that could easily be misconstrued by someone who is already disgruntled with the church to become that much more elitist, bitter and frustrated. To be fair to Breakey, he does warn against much of that and if you really did follow everything he says in the book you would likely avoid doing that. Breakey really seems to have a great heart and a tremendous love for Jesus and for taking faith very seriously and he really challenged young adults to personally embrace faith and life transformation in a deeply personal way prior to being any sort of catalyst for change in the church. I really respect that and that is one of the best qualities of this book.

So what does Beakley encourage young people to do? He encourages them to be sold out for Jesus. Things won’t change unless your faith is real and Jesus really is your Lord. He encourages open communication with others. He promotes Christian unity and mission that is initiated through loving and respectful conversation. He is particularly interested in one’s own personal development and being more concerned with our own transformation than with changing others. However, this book is about changing church culture one person at a time. Again, the things he is teaching are really just good principles of how Christians should treat each other in areas of disagreement and frustration.

Church Life Cycles and the Failure to Pass the Baton to Our Young Adults

Churches don’t appear out of nowhere. Someone has to start them. Starting a church requires vision, courage, and energy. It requires people who are willing to take risks for the kingdom of God. There are a lot of churches that were started 40-60 years ago that have reached a stage that makes keeping young adultsContinue Reading

Harding Lectureship 2013

Anyone out there going to the Harding Lectures that start on Sunday? The theme is the Sermon on the Mount. I haven’t been back to Harding in about 10 years so I am excited to see all the changes that have taken place. I am going to be teaching a few classes on 20s &Continue Reading

Knowledge is potential, not power

Knowledge does not guarantee the ability or willingness to do something about it. Too often in the church we describe problems, analyze problems but then do little to solve them. The 20s leaving the church is a classic example of this. People describe and explain why and then it’s like everything is ok now thatContinue Reading

Hot Topic of the Week – Why are Young Adults Leaving the Church?

This topic has been brought up for every generation of young adults since after the Vietnam War. It has received a lot of attention over the last several years especially and has been something I have spent a good deal of time writing about, speaking about and actually ministering to people from this “missing generation”.Continue Reading

Karate Kid, Discipleship, and Why Some Are Leaving Christianity

Mr. Miyagi knew discipleship. He knew what it took to train someone to be able to do the things he did. Miyagi trained Daniel this way, not because cars needed to be washed but because these were the moves Daniel had to repeat enough times that it became natural to him (think muscle memory). WhenContinue Reading

We’re All In This Together – A Sermon on Breaking Down Barriers in the Church

This year we are focused at getting the church to be more inter-generational. This past Sunday I preached on taking down the divisions that so often divide us in the church. The one I picked on the most was the generational barrier and how to have balance with that. A few of you ask thatContinue Reading

The One Thing the Conversation About Young Adults Leaving the Church Brings Out…

is the bias (or read that expertise and passion) of the person who is making their case: The educator says we need more solid biblical teaching The evangelist says we need to be doing more outreach and teaching them to be evangelistic. Their parents will say they are just in rebellion. The pastor will sayContinue Reading

1 Corinthians 13 Young Adult Remix

If you want to reach 20 Somethings, here is the key – Love them and let them know it. You may not have all the “right” programs (as if there is a giant cookie cutter you can press into your congregation and make it work). Your worship may not be flashy. Your members may beContinue Reading

Marc5solas Take on Why 20 Somethings are Leaving the Church

After my post on why young people are leaving the church, several of you sent me the same link to what I think is one of the best written pieces (and most commented on 300+) in the current discussion on why young adults are leaving was written last week was written over at marc5solas. YouContinue Reading


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