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Losing The Evangelical Youth

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Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. -- Colossians 2: 8 (NLT)


Once they realize they have been captured they seek to break free. You see they already get the high sounding nonsense from the world in which they live. They already get the empty philosophies from the world and they do not need to get up on a Sunday morning to get it either. You see the problem is that when you teach emotionalism, eventually they simply find better feelings. They recognize the lack of authenticity within the church and simply seek it elsewhere. Sure the church may organize help at the local soup kitchen but so does the local agnostic club. The world is not short on socially responsible people. We need to be imparting more than a "help our fellow man" theology. There needs to be what separates us from the world. It is difficult these days because the church as a whole does not discuss sin and repentance anymore -- so why would the youth?


As the article pointed out, eventually the reality of life for kids catches up to the sugar coated gospel. They eventually realize that if this is their "best life now" then they are heading for some serious trouble in this lifetime. They realize that not every day is a Friday and the purposes for which they have been driven too are no different than what the can get from the world. They recognize that simply drawing circles in the sand and demanding what they want is not a viable life strategy. Yet if they raise their hands for help they get prayed over by someone else with no more power than they have. Suddenly that joint they are being offered at school looks better every day. At least it will numb the pain. Never mind that it is a lie from Satan -- he is barely mentioned in seeker friendly churches. He is just that guy in the red suit instead of a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.


The second biggest reason however was the real eye opener. We have given our youth nothing but the law from the day they first started in Royal Rangers and Missionettes. A life filled with the do's and don't of Christianity devoid of the Christ. Salvation itself merely becomes another thing they are supposed to "do." You are supposed to get "saved." And how do we sell that to them? The same way we sell it to adults. A three-minute repeat after me sinners prayer where their salvation is recorded for statistical purposes, they are handed a Bible, and told good luck -- you are a new creation. But they know better. They know they are not. I watched Joel Osteen last week and for a half hour he never mentioned the name of Jesus and then at the end of the sermon he asks the people watching on television if they want to give their lives to Jesus -- just repeat after me. He says two lines and welcome to the family of God! If it sounds ridiculous that is because it is but we do the same thing every Sunday in our churches and it trickles down into our youth groups. But what does the Bible teach us about the law:


The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses' face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn't we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! -- 2Corinthians 3: 7-11 (NLT)


And thus we condemn our own youth under the law we feed them year after year. We do so by avoiding the one thing that can free them from the curse of the law -- the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to use the exact words of the author as he closed up his article because I couldn't have written it better:


"Our kids are smart. They picked up on the message we unwittingly taught. If church is simply a place to learn life-application principals to achieve a better life in community" you don't need a crucified Jesus for that. Why would they get up early on a Sunday and watch a cheap knockoff of the entertainment venue they went to the night before? The middle-aged pastor trying desperately to be "relevant" to them would be a comical cliche' if the effect weren't so devastating. As we jettisoned the gospel, our students are never hit with the full impact of the law, their sin before God, and their desperate need for the atoning work of Christ. Now THAT is relevant, THAT is authentic, and THAT is something the world cannot offer. We've traded a historic, objective, faithful gospel based on God's graciousness toward us for a modern, subjective, pragmatic gospel based upon achieving our goal by following life strategies. Rather than being faithful to the foolish simplicity of the gospel of the cross we've set our goal on being "successful" in growing crowds with this gospel of glory. This new gospel saves no one. Our kids can check all of these boxes with any manner of self-help, life-coach, or simply self-designed spiritualism" and they can do it more pragmatically successfully, and in more relevant community. They leave because given the choice, with the very message we've taught them, it's the smarter choice."


Perhaps the saddest statement has not been made yet. The conditions of what is being taught to the youth are exactly the same that is being taught to the adults. Maybe without the rock music and pizza parties. I have however seen Super Bowl parties to try and get men to show up for church, so the gimmickry is pretty much the same. But the seeker friendly, community purposed, bloodless Gospel based upon chasing emotionalism in lieu of a genuine move of the Spirit of God is what is going on in about 70% of mainstream evangelical churches today. Horrifically inappropriate worship, a blending secularism to the point where the church is not just relevant to the world -- it is the world, and no real discussion of sin and repentance is the typical experience. Mega church pastors justifying the use of heretical books, Easter egg hunts, and hipsterisms as a means to "reach the lost" is commonplace. But what are they being reached with? Certainly not Jesus Christ and His Gospel. So here is the frightening take away for me. How is it that 70% of our youth are smart enough to get up and walk out on this nonsense but the adults all stay? Jump in the river and soak in that for awhile.


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