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Archive for October, 2011

In my last post we looked at the first three reasons that young Christians leave the church. Let’s take a look at the last three.

Reason #4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.

With unfettered access to digital pornography and immersed in a culture that values hyper-sexuality over wholeness, teen and twenty-something Christians are struggling with how to live meaningful lives in terms of sex and sexuality. One of the significant tensions for many young believers is how to live up to the church’s expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture, especially as the age of first marriage is now commonly delayed to the late twenties. Research indicates that most young Christians are as sexually active as their non-Christian peers, even though they are more conservative in their attitudes about sexuality. One-sixth of young Christians (17%) said they “have made mistakes and feel judged in church because of them.” The issue of sexuality is particularly salient among 18- to 29-year-old Catholics, among whom two out of five (40%) said the church’s “teachings on sexuality and birth control are out of date.”

Ok…this may sound similar to my last post…but, the reasoning is similar. Why is it that young adults feel the teaching is out of date? I believe it’s because they’ve been bombarded by a plethora of existentialism (if it feels good do it) all their lives. They can have all the video games they want, unlimited text messaging, the newest North Face jacket and the latest iPhone, so why should they be told they can’t enjoy all the sex they want. Wait? Are you kidding?

Think about…when a lady delays marriage until 26 years of age (the average) and men until 28 (again, the average), then who are we fooling to think that they will remain chaste. It’s not going to happen. A study done by Generations With Vision says, over 90% of incoming college freshmen have already had intercourse.

This statement in the study really got me: “One of the significant tensions for many young believers is how to live up to the church’s expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture…” Really…the “church’s expectations?” Is that what they are? I thought they were Scriptural expectations. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 comes to mind.

3For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

We need to wake up and smell the coffee. The reason these young adults feel inhibited is that they are bombarded with “Jersey Shore,” “Pregnant and 16,” “Glee” and not to mention their favorite movies like “Twilight” and “Hangover.” The sexual promiscuity in these movies and shows are absolutely off the chart in sensual immorality. Until we return to holiness in our teaching and in our expectations, you can forget seeing young adults grow to be able to have the self-discipline to seek the Lord for the one man (or one woman) for life.

Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.

Younger Americans have been shaped by a culture that esteems open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance. Today’s youth and young adults also are the most eclectic generation in American history in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, technological tools and sources of authority. Most young adults want to find areas of common ground with each other, sometimes even if that means glossing over real differences. Three out of ten young Christians (29%) said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and an identical proportion felt they are “forced to choose between my faith and my friends.”  One-fifth of young adults with a Christian background said “church is like a country club, only for insiders” (22%).

Boy, I can feel my pulse quickening as I type on this one. Are we supposed to teach our children that they can “choose” between their faith and their friends? Seriously? Folks, Jesus said, “I’m the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me.” That’s it! Totally exclusive. 100% exclusive! Jesus is the only way! He’s THE way. He proved it by His resurrection. What else is there to discuss?

Do you see that unknowingly our young adults value “open-mindedness” over principle? Do you see how tolerance and acceptance are to be esteemed over Scripture? So, can I ask, “What will we use as our guide, our benchmark, our yard-stick to measure our lives?” Will it be the unchanging Word of Truth (the Holy Scriptures) or will it be the “truth of the day: tolerance, acceptance and open-mindedness?”

Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
Young adults with Christian experience say the church is not a place that allows them to express doubts. They do not feel safe admitting that sometimes Christianity does not make sense. In addition, many feel that the church’s response to doubt is trivial. Some of the perceptions in this regard include not being able “to ask my most pressing life questions in church” (36%) and having “significant intellectual doubts about my faith” (23%). In a related theme of how churches struggle to help young adults who feel marginalized, about one out of every six young adults with a Christian background said their faith “does not help with depression or other emotional problems” they experience (18%).

I’m glad we can end with this one. Certainly we need to allow anyone (young or old) to speak about their doubts. John the Baptist doubted and Jesus said, “No greater man has ever been born of woman.” It’s ok to question, to probe, to dig, to reach, to research our doubts. The Word of God can handle it. Push it! Drop the bucket deep into the well of Truth. It’s all good! Go for it! Drink it in. The Word of God is a deep and fathomless well indeed!

Do you know what we need to do? Keep our young people talking. When we stop talking and we turn away and don’t listen…that’s when we lose them.

What kind of relationship do you have with your child? Are you talking? Really talking? Are you listening…really listening? Build that relationship! Take the time. They won’t leave if they know we care and they won’t walk away long-term if they are truly saved. They will persevere to the end.

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Barna Research has done it again. They’ve completed a new study. This time its on the woes of our young adults leaving church. Their recent study is “Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church.” It can be found here.

This study is new and compliments the study they did years ago that revealed 92% of Christian teens had abandoned their faith by their 20th birthday. Yet, this one is more disturbing. Why? Take a look…

“Overall, the research uncovered six significant themes why nearly three out of every five young Christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15.”

Did you catch that? The age of disappearance has been dropped to 15. Amazing and disturbing!

What are the six reasons? Here they are…

Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective.
Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
Reason #4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
Ok…when I read those I was kind of dismayed. Why? Well let me give you a little bit more of the details. What is listed below comes straight from the study…

Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective.
A few of the defining characteristics of today’s teens and young adults are their unprecedented access to ideas and worldviews as well as their prodigious consumption of popular culture. They say, “Churches ignore the problems of the real world” (22%) and “my church is too concerned that movies, music, and video games are harmful” (18%).

Ok…(this is me again giving some commentary)…I agree that many churches are stuck back in 1970 and because of that teens feel that the church is irrelevant. The church is the only place in town that continue to do things like it did 50 years ago and think all is well. Do you listen to organ music in your car on the radio, CD or XM radio? Just asking?

Truth is…many churches in America have plateaued or are dying. Why? Because they give no answers to the young adults for why they should trust in the principles of Christ and Scripture.

Now regarding the issue of: “my church is too concerned that movies, music, and video games are harmful” is simply this. We MUST be concerned about these things. Do you see? The culture has already indoctrinated these young adults and that’s why they are mad or frustrated. It seems to me that many young adults in their teens and 20’s want Jesus as a “flu shoot” to keep them out of Hell, but they don’t want Jesus to influence what they watch. Let me give you a case in point. Here is an actual Facebook page from a typical teen of today. I’m protecting the identity of this person and have removed personal information. Take a look:

Philosophy

Religious Views

Political Views

Sports

Favorite Teams
  • Atlanta Braves

Arts and Entertainment

Music
  • Lil Wayne
  • Michael Jackson
  • Britney Spears

Books
  • The Notebook
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • The Guardian
  • Twilight

Movies
  • The Hangover
  • Disney
  • Saw

Television
  • Glee
  • Cake Boss
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager

Can you see the compartmentalized nature of this teen? They’ve got “Disney” beside of “Hangover II” for Pete’s sake. What happened to Ephesians 5:3 “Let there not be a hint of sexual immorality…among the saints.” Unreal! It’s like young adults in are saying…”I’ll be what I want to be and watch what I want to watch and everybody else just needs to deal with it.” Now I’m not trying to paint with a broad brush over all teens. Please understand me. I’m simply saying there is a disconnect taking place. And this shows up in this study.

Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
A second reason that young people depart church as young adults is that something is lacking in their experience of church. One-third said “church is boring” (31%). One-quarter of these young adults said that “faith is not relevant to my career or interests” (24%) or that “the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough” (23%). Sadly, one-fifth of these young adults who attended a church as a teenager said that “God seems missing from my experience of church” (20%).

Doesn’t this seem like an “it’s all about me” kind of attitude? To me it rings that way. Where is the service and sacrfice and the commitment to Christ? Is church simply a buffet for us. Come in and be served? Aren’t we supposed to be serving Christ?

Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that “Christianity is anti-science” (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have “been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.”

These young adults have been told that science trumps the Bible since they were in about the 3rd grade. No wonder these young adults fill this way. They are being fed a steady diet (by and large) in school of secular humanism and science and there is no balance in their lives in the church. Most churches teach ZERO apologetics and this is why most young adults feel disconnected and have no answers for their questions. Want answers? Go to Answers in Genesis. This site is fabulous!

Well that’s enough for now. We’ll break down reasons 4, 5 and 6 in the next post…so stayed tune. In the meantime…teach, teach, teach. Begin young. Buy my book! 🙂 It gives specific details on how to teach and train using Scripture from the time our children are infants.

So here’s the key:

14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14-15

We better start young, young, young!

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Victory

I love to win! Do you? Well…that answer may vary some. I would imagine that most men would say, “Yes, if they are keeping score, I want to win!” Many ladies might say, “It really doesn’t matter to me.” Well, I’ll say it again. I like to win!

Recently on vacation I was out riding waves with my girls and two of my nieces. We were having a blast. I was having a hard time catching a good wave and riding it to shore and it was frustrating me to no end. Why? Because I love to win! I love to conquer! I love to get it done…to get it accomplished! Well, I finally caught a good one! Woohoo!

What a ride! You say, “That’s silly!” It probably is…but, deep down in the soul of a man there is usually that desire to conquer, accomplish and win.

You will see this play out on adult league softball teams, bowling leagues, basketball leagues, flag-football leagues, etc. You will also see it at work…with the proverbial “corporate ladder.”

It’s easy to always want to look for that next promotion isn’t it?

Well, there is something else that I was reminded of this past weekend that I want to win in my lifetime. What’s that? The heart of my wife and my children.

I took my family to see the film “Courageous” along with about 200 other folks at our church on Sunday afternoon. The movie was absolutely wonderful! I mean that wholeheartedly! I give it two thumbs up while I’m standing up! 🙂

Courageous Poster

I would highly encourage you to work it in your schedule to go see it! It’s a life-changing movie.

Now I say all of that to say this. Men…if we win at everything else in life on the ball field, in the woods, on the golf course, in the boardroom, classroom or cubicle, but we miss winning the hearts of our family…well, then we’ve missed it!

At the end of the day…or at the end of our lives, I should say…it won’t matter how big your paycheck or office was. It won’t matter if you won the most games in adult-league history. It won’t matter how big the buck, fish, golf swing or boat was. When people are standing around your coffin, it will only matter what you did for those that are…well…standing around your coffin.

I helped conduct a funeral yesterday afternoon. I had the graveside portion of the ceremony. It was a surreal time for me, because the gentleman who had passed away was a dear friend of my grandfather. I used to go with grandfather by his house as a boy and listen to he and grandpa talk. As I watched the pallbearers bring the casket to the grave, I thought back about this 96-year-old man’s life. He was truly a very, very successful business man and active community man. He was a Deacon in his church and was sincerely one of the nicest and kindest men I’ll ever know.

But, what struck me was this: none of that matters. What matters are the people sitting in those chairs across from his casket. That’s what matters. And the wonderful truth is…he had won their hearts. He was a godly father and a godly husband (his wife had preceded him in death). He got it right! He had won!

Men…if you are reading this…ask yourself this question? At what am I winning? Be honest.

At what am I winning?

Now make sure it’s worth the price you’re paying. I know I am constantly evaluating this in my own heart.

One last thing. Check the scoreboard…

How do we do that? Simple. Ask your wife: “Honey, have I won your heart?” Now ask a second question: “Am I still winning your heart?” Got it.

Now go to your children…

Ask the same questions: “Have I won your heart, son?”

“Am I still winning your heart, darling?”

Whether you realize it or not…they’re keeping score. Not on scoreboard, but in their hearts.

Victory! How sweet it is…

Ok…huddle up…

We’ve got the play…ok…here we go…

“Wife and kids on one”

Ready?

On to VICTORY!

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