You don’t have to look very hard to find an article speculating on why young people or Millennials or Christians in general are leaving the Church. The causes range from the name of the church to the type of music to almost anything and everything people can imagine. As I read the articles, I started noticing something.
The root of every theory started with “I” messages from those leaving. “I don’t get anything from that.” “I can’t worship a God who would expect that of me or others.” “I don’t like that.” “I don’t feel close to God when that happens.” “I don’t like the way they do that.” And on and on.
Watch as congregations, preachers and churches twist themselves into pretzels to make everyone happy so they will “stay in church”. While I would love everyone to choose to follow Jesus and obey God’s commands and follow His plans for their lives, I don’t think it is a biblical expectation. Now don’t get me wrong, there is some value in listening to what people have to say and examining if what they want is a cultural choice that can be changed if it is in the best interest of the Church. Unfortunately, often what gets tossed aside are God’s commands and principles.
Read through the New Testament as you would a “regular” book. Pay attention especially to Acts and the letters written to the various congregations and individuals. How often do you see them counseled or see examples of anyone catering to the tastes and whims of someone else? How often are there examples of calling Christians to serve others, live godly lives that separate their behavior from the world around them or calls to share their faith? By my count, there are zero instances of the former (I don’t think “becoming all things to all people” means this.) and tons of examples of the latter.
We need to take the time to impress upon our children and teens that the “I” in faith is about them, but not in the ways they think. It doesn’t give them license to demand entire congregations and churches cater to their every whim and demand. It does give them a lot of personal responsibilities though. In the next post, I will share some specific concepts about that “I” in faith, I think we should be sharing with our young people.