We’re way off beam…

Thanks to DoPCandY for flagging up this excellent article from Jason Clark. I’m really challenged by these reflections… How do we re-imagine church and ministry for young people without losing our distinctive? What’s the point of having a distinctive when young people can’t get past your packaging? So many questions for me from this… Really don’t know where to start…

20121114-124854.jpgGood summary of David Kinnaman in You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church … and Rethinking Faith. Apparently Six in 10 young people in the US will leave the church permanently or for an extended period starting at age 15 (according to new research by the Barna Group).

That caught my eye, after having read data and commentary on the even bleaker state of religion and faith in the UK from the British Social Attitudes Survey. With most young people in the UK having no church contact at all, 94% of them will never find their way into any faith, let alone Christianity.
My church community is stuffed with young children at an intense ratio of 1 child for every 2 adults in the church. We’ve been focusing again recently on the challenges they face as they enter the 13-15 year tweenage years. Seems these surveys confirm what we already new anecdotally.

Isolationism. One-fourth of 18- to 29-year-olds say church demonizes everything outside church, including the music, movies, culture, and technology that define their generation.

Shallowness. One-third call church boring, about one-fourth say faith is irrelevant and Bible teaching is unclear. One-fifth say God is absent from their church experience.

Anti-science. Up to one-third say the church is out of step on scientific developments and debate.

Sex. The church is perceived as simplistic and judgmental. For a fifth or more, a “just say no” philosophy is insufficient in a techno-porno world. Young Christian singles are as sexually active as their non-churched friends, and many say they feel judged.

Exclusivity. Three in 10 young people feel the church is too exclusive in this pluralistic and multi-cultural age. And the same number feel forced to choose between their faith and their friends.

Doubters. The church is not a safe place to express doubts say over one-third of young people, and one-fourth have serious doubts they’d like to discuss.

—Adapted from a list by David Kinnaman in You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church … and Rethinking Faith

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3 thoughts on “We’re way off beam…”

  1. This article reflects accurately the views and opinions of many of the young people I come across both in and out of church. We really do have to re-imagine our ministry and perhaps it starts by getting out of the church and into places where young people can see that we are living out our ministry as Jesus intended us to do

  2. Pete, The statistics are bleak and I understand your frustration
    I have a vague Idea about what you mean by ‘distinctive’ and ‘packaging’ but can you explain? Also what does ‘re-imagine’ involve?’

  3. I guess my fear is that sometimes we get so caught up with our doctrine that we lose sight of the story of Jesus Christ. These statistics seem to suggest that when young people look at the Christian faith they don’t see what I see, a relationship with Jesus, but instead a human institution out of touch with culture (not sure that the vote at synod will have done much for this view…).

    We have a phenomenal balancing act to do, keeping a firm hold on what we believe, whilst trying to engage with the world in which we live.

    Sometimes the biggest barrier to Christ is the church…

    For me re-imagining church and ministry means examining what we do and discerning what is mission and what is ‘doing what we do because it’s what we’ve always done’.

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