If you have Facebook there is a great chance that one of your friends posted a link to an article entitled, “10 Surprising Reasons Our Kids LEAVE Church.” If not you can and should read it here.
Did you catch the stat at the beginning of the article? 70 % of teens are leaving the church and only half are coming back after college. That’s awful! But it shouldn’t surprise us. We should let that stat motivate us to do something, but I don’t think that the 10 reasons listed are the real reasons teens are leaving the church.
I liked most of that article. I think the author has some good points that we need to think about and discuss as the church. BUT…
The list seems to be a bash against the contemporary church. The number 9 Reason listed is “They Never Attended Church To Begin With.”
“From a Noah’s Ark themed nursery, to jumbotron summer-campish kids church, to pizza parties and rock concerts, many evangelical youth have been coddled in a not-quite-church, but not-quite-world hothouse. They’ve never sat on a pew between a set of new parents with a fussy baby and a senior citizen on an oxygen tank.”
The contemporary church is not the problem. In fact it was an attempt to answer the problems from the the mass exodus of teens leaving the traditional church. Oh and by the way sitting in between new parents with a fussy baby and a senior citizen on an oxygen tank has been sited as the reason someone has stuck with the church a grand total of 0 times.
Critiquing the contemporary church by saying it’s the problem is like blaming McDonald’s for obesity, guns for crime, and Twerking for Miley Cyrus. The problem with all of those is people not items.
Are there issues with the contemporary church? YES. There were issues with the traditional church. In fact there were issues with Jesus teaching. In a day and age where we are obsessed with church growth the founder of our faith left us with a bad example of what to do with a large crowd. Jesus ticked off a large audience by essentially saying “eat me” and caused them to stop following Him.
“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” John 6:66
Look at what Jesus said about finding God.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
No matter what our method is, traditional, contemporary, or traditiorary (I think I just made up that word. It’s a mix between traditional and contemporary) the next generation will reject our methods. What works today will look cheesy and outdated to the next generation.
We can point our fingers and say that the model is the problem or we can do something about it. The problem is not the model. It’s people. People are selfish. People don’t need much convincing to leave the faith. People love to point the finger but are too lazy to be the solution to the problem.
It’s easy to look at other people’s attempts to reach people and crucify it. It’s a lot harder to actually do something about it.
At the end of the day I think that the list in this article misses the main reason people leave the church.
It’s because we are people. We are broken, selfish, distracted, pleasure seeking people.
Each generation will always rebel against the generation before it. And at the end of the day it all works and none of it works. Our best efforts will be used by God to reach many and many will leave no matter what we do.
Jesus was a great leader and yet eventually even out of Jesus’ disciples one of them betrayed Him, another denied He knew Him, and all abandoned Him. All but one came back but He still lost Judas. What if we crucified Jesus’ leadership by pointing to His methods that led to many people leaving? It would feel wrong and not get us anywhere.
We can’t expect different results than Jesus. People are going to leave. We shouldn’t be happy about it. We should do whatever we can to reach them and get them back, but we shouldn’t be shocked by it.
So what’s my point with all of this?
Let’s stop crucifying each generations attempt to reach people. Instead lets focus on discipling people. Church methods aren’t the enemy. Sin is. Selfishness is. Let’s do whatever we can to model loving Jesus. Let’s make Him be what church is all about. Let’s stop getting married to traditions and programs. Let’s be willing to abandon it all if it would win some back. Let’s learn from the past generations mistakes and embrace the changes the next generation wants to make. Let’s not be shocked when lots of people leave the church. And finally let’s not be okay with lots of people leaving the church.
What has helped you stay connected to the church?