Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them. -- 1Timothy 4: 12-13 (NLT)
During my devotional time today I came across and exceptional article about this topic and I must say it was an eye opener. Studies reveal that 70% of churched youth will leave the church by their high school graduation. This isn't baseball where a 300 average is a positive achievement. We hear all the usual cries about the next generation and how the kids are the future but what does it say when 70% who have tried what we are selling say no thanks once they reach the age of critical thinking? I have heard the well intended excuses of the pull of the world, peer pressure, latch key kids -- anything to prevent us from having to look in the mirror. I have heard this used as the defense for home schooling. The reality however is that our kids are smart and eventually they can do the math for themselves about what they are being sold.
The first reason given by the author for why the youth leave the church is that it strives to be relevant to them. Not irrelevant beloved -- relevant. Taking a 2000 year old faith and dressing it up in skinny jeans and plaid is not the way to reach the youth of this world. Why? Because they already got that! I have written about this consistently. The seeker friendly and emergent church movements are heretical lies from the pits of hell that imply or outright state that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is somehow not relevant enough to reach the next generation. This is absolute NONSENSE. Do we realize how much pressure on kids every day? Drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, bullying, suicides, failing school systems, poor economic outlook, parental divorce rates. Why in the world are we trying to be relevant to that mess? Somewhere deep down they want another alternative. They desperately need a different option. The church is supposed to be the option -- the light in a world of darkness:
"You are the light of the world--like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. -- Matthew 5: 14-15 (NLT)
When we strive instead to cool, or hip, or relevant -- we snuff out the very light they need to see to make it out of the darkness they are living in. Instead the church treats them apart from the rest of the body. Their "services" are sold as social events instead of church services. I have seen youth services even held in worldly nightclubs -- no alcohol of course as if the point is lost on the kids. I have seen youth services inside a church building where secular movies filled with profanity and gratuitous sexual overtones are shown. The Word of God is watered down for them so that no one is challenged but the leadership can feel as if they said the name of Jesus enough.
Also on the list of top ten reasons are a group of reasons surrounding what it is that we actually teach the youth. We must realize that the atheistic and agnostic elements in this world are going to come after them full board and will respect their ability to think critically and figure things out. Satan wants the youth and the sad thing is we barely put up a fight. As the article states -- we send them out unarmed. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ will arm them properly. Not the pizza party, theologically vacuous rock music posing as worship, church centered drivel we are selling them.
Because what we are selling them is feeling based -- not spiritually based. The church as a whole constantly chases emotional experiences and tries to pretend they are moves of the spirit but the truth is not lost on the youth. Look at the most popular Christian youth worship movements, such as Jesus Culture, and you will see nothing but emotionalism wrapped up in the name of Jesus. Bizarre testimonies based upon new age philosophies and Eastern Mysticism. Fire tunnels where random people lay hands on each other until an emotional response comparable to the old Holy Laughter movement is achieved. Seriously. Go on you tube and search for fire tunnels and see for yourself. Kids laughing uncontrollably, writhing on the floor and all in the name of Jesus. Just kids having fun? Not when you remember that it is sold as a move of the Spirit of God with all of the usual promises of walking in power and trampling serpents. Then when all hell really does break loose in their life they realize there actually was no power behind the emotional experience. There was no power in the Savior they were sold.