Reasons Why Young Adults Leave The Church

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“Why do young adults leave the Church?” This question has been the subject of countless sermons, books, and (ahem) online articles. The concern of Churches and Christian parents is certainly justified. Life can be hard on teenagers, but the Church is a place where they can learn about God’s grace and draw strength from Christian fellowship. So why are so many of them choosing to leave?

Is it because of drugs? The Culture Wars? Same-sex marriage? Actually, according to Ed Stetzer on Christianity Today, their motivation is surprisingly plain. In a recent article, Stetzer lists six reasons why young adults leave the Church, beginning with the following three,

“We also asked young adults why they dropped out of church. Of those who dropped out, about 97 percent stated it was because of life changes or situations. That’s a pretty substantial number. Among their more specific reasons:

They simply wanted a break from church (27 percent).
They had moved to college (25 percent).
Their work made it impossible or difficult to attend (23 percent).”

Stetzer continues by saying,

“The reason that many church-attending young adults stopped going to church upon graduating from high school? Their faith just wasn’t personally meaningful to them. They did not have a first-hand faith. The church had not become a valued and valuable expression in their life—one that impacts how they live and how they relate and how they grow. Church was perhaps something their parents wanted them to do. They may have grown up in church, and perhaps they faced pressure from parents and even peers to be involved in church. But it wasn’t a first-hand faith.”

It’s surprising, but more often than not it’s the mundane things in life that can end up destroying our faith. Like the steady, subtle current of an ocean, small things can gently pull a person away from God. It’s not only teenagers who have to be vigilant either, any Christian can become a victim to small distractions. Chris Russell noted in a recent Crosswalk article that Christians can drift spiritually because of a busy schedule, misplaced affections, even abundance. He writes,

“We Americans are so fat with our own prosperity that we often make wealth our god and not the true King of heaven. This has also been a recurring theme throughout the entire Bible. People struggle, God blesses them, they become prosperous, and then they depart from God. Ironic, isn’t it?”

Having a strong faith is not just about attending Church or reading your Bible, it’s about making that faith your own. Faith is like a tree, it must be cultivated and grown by the individual, and no one else can do it. If Churches truly want to reach young adults, we must first teach them their importance of maintaining a personal faith.

What about you, what are your thoughts?

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What Young People Need To Know About Humility

It is a conceit of the young to believe that because something has occurred to them, it is a novel idea, one unknown to previous, plodding generations. This tendency cuts across the board and includes young Christians.

And then they read the classical philosophers… the Church Fathers… the Protestant Reformers… the Enlightenment thinkers… Alexis de Tocqueville and Edmund Burke and The Federalist Papers and Blackstone… Carl F.H. Henry and Herbert Schlossberg and Thomas Oden and Christopher Lasch and Abraham Kuyper and Os Guinness… and biblical exegeses and commentators and historians and scientists whose exacting and exhaustive study open up new vistas of knowledge… and have conversations with serious people who, having reached the age of 40, are a bit more tempered in their approach to life and learning… and real maturity begins.

These comments are more than a bit autobiographical. As a young man (an increasingly distant state of being), my intellectual self-confidence spilled joyously into intellectual pomposity. My mind was a grand world, comprehensive and integrated and satisfied, capable of taking on all comers and informing them of their rightness, wrongness, or simple stupidity.
I am no longer young. Although there are aspects of my youth I miss (supple knees, for example), one I consider with some grief and embarrassment is the intellectual pride I wore as a badge of honor. It was, in reality, a bludgeon of ignorance and injury.

It is good for young people to have strong views, to foster a muscular curiosity, to have opinions of sufficient iron as to sharpen those of their peers. And there’s nothing like the invigoration of intellectual discovery, to grasp something difficult and understand it for the first time, to internalize a great truth or work through a knotty philosophical or theological problem. These things make one feel alive and construct the very lens through which one views life itself.
Yet in our time, the advent of the internet has enabled myriad bright young people, including bright young Christians, to opine with both dogmatism and profligacy. Had the Internet been around when I was in my 20s, no doubt I would have been one of the blogosphere’s chief users – and offenders.
All Christians can rejoice in the many young believers who are writing so thoughtfully and with such art and frequency. Many young men and women I know are using the web to advance critically important arguments in fresh and clever ways.
Christian faith is blessed by young men and women like these. Older Christians should rejoice that the Lord is raising them up and be sufficiently humble to learn from them. Holding younger Christians in contempt simply because they are young is expressly forbidden by the Word of God (I Timothy 4:12). Such contempt is as much a form of pride as any other kind. Like the corpse of dead Lazarus, it stinks.
My caution is only that in an era when so much is at stake in our culture, and when so many young Christians have been cruelly wounded by the brokenness of their families and the excesses of past sin, younger believers not forget that although their voices are new, the truths they proclaim and issues with which they wrestle are not.
Humility and servanthood are terms I dislike, because I’m so bad at applying them to my own life. Yet one’s utility to the Prince of Life is only as extensive as one’s humility and servant attitude. This does not mean that we cannot be confident in proclaiming the truth; rather, it means we bear always in mind that the truth is His, not ours, and that the ministries we occupy are for Jesus’s sake, not our own.
Charles Spurgeon wrote of his own pride that “it is a miserable, wretched affair.” This echoes in the very heart of my own heart. It should for all Christ-followers. Young, middle-aged, or old, let’s remember that intellectual pride is rank in the nostrils of God, and keep remembering that until the day we see our Redeemer, One Who though existing in the very form of God humbled Himself to the point of dying on an instrument of debasement and cruelty, a wooden cross.
If we want to be worthy servants of the King, whether we are emerging or retiring, let’s begin at, and keep returning to, these eternal truths.

Are We Over- Protecting Our Children?

This post was first posted on Breakpoint.

Maybe you’ve heard that phrase “killing them with kindness”? According to some, that may be what our culture is doing to today’s college students, at least psychologically.

Peter Gray, a research professor at Boston College, sees what he calls “declining student resilience.” At one major university, “emergency calls to counseling had more than doubled over the past five years. Students are increasingly seeking help for, and apparently having emotional crises over, problems of everyday life.”

Gray said that one student felt traumatized because her roommate had called her a nasty name. Two others sought counseling because they’d seen a mouse in their off-campus apartment. They called the police, who, he says, “kindly arrived and set a mousetrap for them.” The Atlantic calls this kind of thing “the coddling of the American mind.”

Many of these emotionally stunted students can’t handle a bad grade, and their professors live in fear of negative student reviews or lawsuits. Or as one director of counseling said, “There has been … a decrease in the ability of many young people to manage the everyday bumps in the road of life.”

What’s going on? Dan Jones, the past president of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, points at parents, saying, “[Students] haven’t developed skills in how to soothe themselves, because their parents have solved all their problems and removed the obstacles. They don’t seem to have as much grit as previous generations.”

In other words, there’s been way too much helicopter parenting!

Cameron Cole, a youth pastor in Alabama, knows that overly protecting our kids isn’t biblical. Pain, after all, is part of spiritual growth. “On Jesus’s way to redeeming the world he encountered betrayal, injustice, torture, violence, condemnation, imprisonment, and alienation,” Cole writes. “How deluded I am when I think an alternate path exists for my child’s ‘hoped for’ service to God’s kingdom. He will not wear the crown … unless he bears a cross.”

Too many kids take the easy path, which is the only path they’ve ever known. They’re afraid to fail so they avoid risk at all costs. But our faith teaches us risky obedience to God, knowing He’s in control.

I’m reminded of this point every time I speak with my friend Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of imprisoned pastor Saeed. Jesus said, “I’m with you always.” And let’s not forget, “Nothing shall be impossible.” So let’s share this bracing perspective with our sons and daughters, and live by it.

And let’s not forget that college students in former generations followed this God of the impossible. In 1886, Dwight L. Moody presided over a meeting of 251 college students in Massachusetts. They came from all over the country, and eventually an interest grew in foreign missions. As ChristianHistory.net reports, one of the students, Robert Wilder, organized a meeting for all of those interested in missions, and 21 young people showed up. He later wrote, “Seldom have I seen an audience under the sway of God’s Spirit as it was that night. The delegates withdrew to their rooms or went out under the great trees to wait on God for guidance.”

When the conference was over, 100 students had committed themselves to become overseas missionaries. It was the start of a movement that saw tens of thousands of people carry the gospel around the globe. Is such a passion still conceivable for us?

Yes! But the key is what I learned in my years of teaching teens and college students: Remove the bubble wrap. And like Moody, encourage them toward a God-sized vision for their lives. Help them see their giftedness and how it relates to the needs in their world, so that they can pursue their role in God’s restoration of all things under the lordship of Christ.
And as their leaders, parents, and mentors we need to give them permission to try . . . and room to fail.

Source: Breakpoint

Kids These Days: Generation Z Most Conservative Since WWII

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Kids These Days: Generation Z

For at least a decade, Millennials have been stereotyped as lazy, entitled, and stuck on social media. In Nigeria, our President had already tagged us to be lazy youths with no ambition. While that may not be entirely fair, they are notoriously liberal, overwhelmingly supporting left-leaning candidates and favoring policies like nationalized healthcare and same-sex “marriage.”

But Millennials are also getting old—relatively speaking. The first are now reaching the ripe old age of thirty-five! And sometime between 1995 and 2000, the millennial generation ended, or at least stopped being born, and a new generation began.

Members of “Generation Z” are now beginning to graduate high school, and 2016 was the first time any of them were old enough to vote. At seventy million and counting, they’re also about to outnumber their predecessors.

So, what’s so intriguing about this new brood? Well, according to a growing body of research, they may be, by certain measures, the most conservative generation since World War II—more than Millennials, Generation Xers and even the Baby-Boomers.

Millennials were raised in a time of roaring prosperity, when video cassettes were a bigger influence than digital technology, and many came of age before the age of radical Islamic terror. Gen Z kids, by contrast, are “digital natives.” They’ve never known life without the Internet, and have grown up surrounded by instant access to the world’s harsh realities on their smart phones.

These young people are products of conflict and recession. They can only remember a news cycle “marred by economic stress, rising student debt… and war overseas.” As a result, they’ve taken on what one team of Goldman-Sachs analysts called a “more pragmatic” and conservative outlook on the world.

Of course, generalizations at this stage are very early and very subject to development.

And get this: According to one British study conducted by global consultancy firm, The Guild, almost sixty percent of Gen Z respondents in the U.K. described their views on “same-sex marriage, transgender rights and marijuana legalization” as “conservative” or “moderate,” compared with a whopping 83% of Millennials who called themselves “quite” or “very liberal” on these issues. The Gen Z participants were even ten times more likely than Millennials to dislike tattoos and body piercings!

These are good trends, but these students still need discipleship and catechesis. A tendency toward traditional values, by itself, means nothing unless those who believe in revealed Truth, the Gospel, the natural family, and political and religious liberty step forward and train the next generation to articulate and live out these truths.

What is clear from this emerging data about the young is that they don’t fit neatly into rhetoric about the “right side of history.” As Columbia University sociologist, Musa Al-Gharbi writes, trends like this are deeply troubling for those so recently crowing that the future belonged to one political party.

No one knows what the future holds, except the One Who holds the future! And the fact that so many were apparently wrong about the right side of history is just another reminder that He alone is God, Whom the Psalmist called “faithful throughout all generations.”

Adult Is Not A Verb: Helping Young People Spread Their Wings

News around the world.

It’s been called a lot of things: “Peter Pan Syndrome” or my favorite, “failure to launch,” but whatever the term, the phenomenon is undeniable. A record number of young people today are getting stuck in the transition between childhood and adulthood.

Despite attending college in record numbers, millennials seem to struggle to move on to the next phase of life. Just a decade ago, a healthy majority of young adults were able to successfully fledge. Now, those who’ve managed to leave the nest are a minority.

Of course, the recession and a sluggish job market are factors. Millennials do have tougher career prospects than their parents did. But the economy isn’t the only explanation, and the language young people use to talk about adulthood makes that obvious.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse announced that Twitter had turned the noun “adult” into a verb. “#Adulting” is what kids post on social media to congratulate themselves for the rather ordinary feats of paying the bills, finishing the laundry, or just getting to work on time.

“I adulted!” goes the saying, as if fulfilling daily responsibilities is somehow above and beyond the call of duty. “Adulting” has become so universally recognized that the American Dialect Society nominated it for the most creative word of 2015.

But the Senator’s most important suggestion? Older generations must start investing in the lives of young adults. Summarizing relevant research in 2013, The Boston Globe reported a staggering statistic: Only a quarter of Americans 60 and older had discussed anything important with anyone under 36 in the previous six months! Exclude relatives and that figure dropped to a mortifying 6 percent. How alien this would have sounded to the Apostle Paul, who in Titus 2 urges older men and older women to teach the younger.

Only by connecting and investing in their lives can we reasonably expect our kids, our grandkids, and their peers to understand that “adult” is not something you do. It’s someone you are.