Our lead pastor asked me to share about 3 minutes from the book You Lost Me this last Sunday. This is a book that is jammed full of so much information and insight. It was really hard to pair anything down to 3 minutes. But here is what I was able to come up with. It’s a bit of a repeat and not new news to this blog, but I figured a refresher would be good to share with the group. Here you go!
In his book, “You Lost Me”, David Kinnaman discusses why young Christians are leaving the church and rethinking faith. With loads of research and statistics from the Barna Group, Kinnaman paints the picture of a very real problem we are seeing in those ages 18-29. While teenagers are the most active demographic in the American church, twentysomethings are the most inactive demographic.
There are three kinds of dropouts discusses in the book. The first would be nomads. They have walked away from church engagement but still consider themselves Christians. The next group would be prodigals. These leave the church and also their faith. They would define themselves as “no longer Christians”. The last group is called exiles. While they are still invested in their Christian faith they feel stuck between culture and the church.
The bottom line reason why these twentysomethings are leaving the church is a disciple-making issue. You could call it a faith development problem. They are not adequately prepared to follow Christ in such a rapidly changing culture.
We’ve discussed here at Bethel the concept of orange and how when the church and the family come together, it can be a powerful influence on a child’s lifetime relationship with the Lord. It’s going to take a team effort to see the next generation hold on to their faith in a challenging, real world.
In a section about prodigals – those who have walk away from the church and their Christian faith – I found it interesting that their biggest regret is usually how it hurts their parents. These prodigals aren’t trying to be rebellious or hurt their families. The biggest cause of pain is their knowing that it grieves their parents to see them walk away. This speaks volumes to me about how deeply kids are influenced by their parents and how they really do value their parent’s approval.
Another strong feeling prodigals have is that they have broken out of constraints. They have felt boxed in and stuck. They have felt unable to be themselves within the Christian faith and the church. This shows me that there is a deep heart issues going on here. If our kids are just “doing” the church thing, if they are just living up to expectations, then there is no personal ownership in their walk with the Lord. Without that personal relationship with the Lord to keep them connected, they’ll walk away once the decision becomes their own. As we lead children and teens, we have to be careful not just to focus so much on behavior and making sure they do certain things or act a certain way. It’s a heart level issue. It has to be real for them in order for it last a lifetime.
While we can’t make kids have a relationship with the Lord, we can be there for them as examples and role models. So much of faith is caught, not taught. We need to be safe people that they can ask honest and real questions to. Life is complex and messy. If we are trying to make cookie-cutter Christians then we’re going to lose them as they struggle with how Christ fits into their real world lives. Discipleship is both the responsibility of the family and the church. Together, we can live honest, real faith before the next generation. We can walk alongside of them and help them see the heart of the matter is more important than following a rule or expectation. Of course, each child must decide for themselves so this mentoring and guiding process must be surrounded in prayer. This is a key part of making sure the next generation is actively involved in the church and being the Church once the decision is ultimately theirs.