Youth Of A Nation

My brother-in-law James has been reading the book The Present Future by Reggie McNeal. One quote he posted on his blog really stood out to me.        

“Church activity is a poor substitute for genuine spiritual vitality.”        

He is commenting on the statistic that “90 percent of kids active in high school youth groups do not attend church by the time they are sophomores in college. One-third of these will never return. They are not leaving because they have lost faith. They contend that the church no longer contributes to their spiritual development. In fact, they say, quite the opposite is true.”

I couldn’t agree more with Reggie on this. It is because we (the modern church) have reduced our concept of salvation down to mere forgiveness of sins. This sort of shallow thinking leads to shallow theology which is a shallow understanding of who God is and how we relate to him. As a product of his kind of thinking our young people grow up with a weak and shallow view of what it means to be a Christian, a “little Christ”. It’s no wonder we have such trouble retaining these young minds when they go off to college. To them their faith is little more than a free ticket to heaven and sitting through a boring sermon on Sunday morning. Their college professors are brilliant thinkers that are opening their minds up to a whole new world of ideas and possibilities. Now, because it is rooted in such shallow, sandy soil, their faith is rocked by every new idea that comes along. Eventually it is easier to just abandon it all together than continually fight to defend it. We tend to blame institutions of higher learning, especially the secular and liberal ones, for “corrupting” the minds of our youth but I think we are missing the point in a huge way. We are shifting the blame to anyone but ourselves.         

To the apostles and early Christians salvation was SO much more than a ticket to heaven and church on Sundays. It was the life that Christ modeled for us and demanded that we follow. Of course we are saved by grace when we believe, that is the foundation of our faith, but Jesus clearly says “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). It’s not that he won’t let you be his disciple if you don’t, you just can’t. You can’t not do the things he commands and expect to be His disciple, the two are mutually exclusive. It’s like trying to paint a wall black using orange paint… it just won’t work.

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4 Comments »

  1. Christopher Said:

    Christians, in order to appreciate Christianity better, should study other faiths.

    What do they know of Christianity who only Christianity know?

  2. Vince Said:

    On the youth tip…youth ministry definitely needs to be redefined in America. We have been building second churches with our youth groups and alienating the youth from the rest of the church body.

  3. micahanderica Said:

    i appreciate your thoughts, but wonder where the “90% of students” statistic comes from. seems really high. Vince is right, we need to make sure that students are a part of the church as a whole. really all ages, young to old need to be apart of the Church. Continue the conversation!

  4. James Said:

    yeah it seems high because it is. its pretty sad, go on most any college campus nowadays and you can observe it, even Christian colleges.
    that statistic comes from Dawson McAlister, who is a national youth ministry specialist and radio talk show host.


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