I recently heard two terrifying statistics for the Church of today. Only 8% of my generation (the children and teens) claim to be Christian, and only 8%. Within that, roughly 75% of that 8% are expected to walk away from their childhood faith when they hit college and beyond. That will leave 2% clinging to Jesus, if I did my math correctly.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that something is seriously wrong with that. If children and teens are the hope of the Church’s survival in this world, then why is it that only 2% are supposed to be left in the end?
In my humble opinion, there are two problems. Both of them are overlooked in a lot of churches. You can judge for yourselves, though, and I ask you to please correct me if I’m wrong.
Firstly, I’m told that at a lot of Christian Elementary Ed. Youth Leader meetings, there is this lie that the teenagers are lost, so you need to go after the kids.
Okay, so maybe I’m the only teenager to be upset by this. What am I, chopped liver? The last time I checked, there is no verse in the Bible that says “However, once a child turns thirteen their soul is sold to the devil and there is no hope for them.” In addition to that, I just read that there was no such thing as a teenager until the 20th century, when kids no longer had to grow up fast and become adults as soon as they were mature enough. You were a kid until you were an adult. It was that simple. THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS A TEENAGER IN BIBLE TIMES.
I also find another flaw in this reasoning that teens are lost. I was raised as a church kid. I’ve kind of always known the truth, but it wasn’t until I was a teen that I really started to live that truth out.
This leads me to point number 2. Why does that 75% walk away? I mean, from what I’ve seen, Jesus is AWESOME. He loves you. He gives you hope to go on when you have none. Being a little Christ (the rough translation of Christian) is great.
Let’s be honest. In a society where teen suicide is on the rise and being a Christian consists of being good and going to church once or twice a year, we need that hope and freedom. The Church seems to have lost its hope, its youth and vitality.
Here’s what I see happening- we tell the kids from the time that they can speak that they will go to heaven if they say the sinner’s prayer, and then they won’t have to suffer the sulfuric fires of hell. Basically, we present what should be a relationship that grows with us as fire insurance. We’ve taken the meaning out of it.
From there we spoon feed them mush. We never let them grow in their faith, so it just dies out. We act like going to church and crying at alter calls is what it’s all about. Um, I think not.
We were commanded in Matthew 28:19-20a to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Okay, so let me ask you this- where is the discipleship? Why are there so very few working on the meat of the Scriptures? Why aren’t our leaders leading and our teachers teaching, leaving people drowning in this thing we call life?
We, as the Church’s body, need to get out of the milk. We need to take action to help baby Christians deepen their faith. We need to get rid of the mistaken impression that once you say the magic prayer you can do whatever you want and still escape hell. We need discipleship.
I am so sick of the low expectations for teens. I know and I am thrilled that I’m not the only one trying to start something new and awesome in my generation. But I want other teens to stand up with me and fix these problems with me.
Don’t settle with what they’re spoon feeding you. Challenge it. Learn it. Grow up in your faith. Start on some food for the thought.
“Be strong and courageous” is what Joshua 1:9 says. This isn’t for the mediocre. The Church should be about loving, growing and teaching Jesus and his words.
We’ve put the emphasis on the wrong things for so long. Let’s put it in the right places now. Let’s be the change this church needs.