Losing Our Youth

I came across an article on Facebook that bothers me a bit. Some thing just doesn’t seem right about it. It deals with the spiritual attitude in America.

Barna Research came out with a study that found that 59% of millennials who have been raised in church have dropped out. It gives twelve points on why this is happening. I think there is a major point that is missed by this article. Before I tell you what that point is, I want to give you the twelve reasons given by the author for why the millennials are dropping out.

1. Nobody’s Listening to Us

Millennials value voice and receptivity above all else. When a church forges ahead without ever asking for our input we get the message loud and clear: Nobody cares what we think. Why then, should we blindly serve an institution that we cannot change or shape?
It seems they are saying, We are the young people, and we want church done our way. They are good at whining and complaining when they don’t get their way. They are trying to tell the older people, who have experienced the mistakes of youth, how things should be done.

2. We’re Sick of Hearing About Values & Mission Statements

Stop wasting time on the religious mambo jambo and get back to the heart of the gospel. If you have to explain your mission and values to the church, it’s overly-religious and much too complicated.
They may be right on the idea that there is too much of this in some churches, but they don’t really want us to get to the heart of the Gospel because they complain when the Gospel is the center of the preaching in churches.

3. Helping the Poor Isn’t a Priority

Stop creating more Bible studies and Christian activity. Community happens best in service with a shared purpose.
I don’t like the idea of stopping Bible studies. What we need is more doctrine being taught in our churches because a big part of the problem in them is the people are doctrinally illiterate. Helping the poor is an important part of the ministry in a church, but it is not the main thing. A church exists, first of all to grow saints, and secondly to send the saints out to reach the world.

4. We’re Tired of You Blaming the Culture

Perhaps it’s easier to focus on how terrible the world is out there than actually address the mess within.
They may be saying stop blaming the millennial culture. It seems to me that they are too sensitive to criticism. The fault is not the millennials, it is the broken down family and parental neglect. The children are growing up not knowing how to handle the issues they face.

5. The “You Can’t Sit With Us” Affect:

Until the church finds a way to be radically kinder and more compassionate than the world at large, we tell outsiders they’re better off on their own. And the truth is, many times they are.
Not sure where they get this idea? They don’t get this from the church I attend.

6. Distrust & Mis-allocation of Resources

Millennials, more than any other generation, don’t trust institutions, for we have witnessed over and over how corrupt and self-serving they can be.
Why should thousands of our hard-earned dollars go toward a mortgage on a multi-million dollar building that isn’t being utilized to serve the community, or to pay for another celebratory bouncy castle when that same cash-money could provide food, clean water and shelter for someone in need?
It is true that there is waste, and there are charlatans who are in the ministry for the money. God will give them their reward. However, this is just a smoke screen. My experience shows that those who say this kind of thing just don’t want to give.

7. We Want to Be Mentored, Not Preached At

Preaching just doesn’t reach our generation like our parents and grandparents.
Millennials crave relationship, to have someone walking beside them through the muck. We are the generation with the highest ever percentage of fatherless homes.
I am all for mentoring and having someone to walk beside them, but the Bible says:
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:21-25)
We can’t neglect the preaching of the Word of God. Let’s mentor, but let’s keep preaching as well.

8. We Want to Feel Valued

Churches tend to rely heavily on their young adults to serve. You’re single, what else do you have to do? In fact, we’re tapped incessantly to help out. And, at its worst extreme, spiritually manipulated with the cringe-worthy words “you’re letting your church down.”
Millennials are told by this world from the second we wake up to the second we take a sleeping pill that we aren’t good enough.
We desperately need the church to tell us we are enough, exactly the way we are. No conditions or expectations.
We need a church that sees us and believes in us, that cheers us on and encourages us to chase our big crazy dreams.
In the third point they complained that not enough was being done, and now they complain because they are being asked to do too much. They want things done, but don’t want to do them themselves. They also say they don’t want to be told when they do wrong, we are just supposed to accept their bad behavior and say it is OK. They want us to rubber stamp our “crazy dreams” and let them do what they want to do.

9. We Want You to Talk to Us About Controversial Issues (Because No One Is)

People in their 20s and 30s are making the biggest decisions of their entire lives: career, education, relationships, marriage, sex, finances, children, purpose, chemicals, body image. We need someone consistently speaking truth into every single one of those areas.
I fully agree with this point. We don’t talk to them about the controversial issues. If we do, they get mad and call us old-fashioned.

10. The Public Perception

The neighbors, the city and the people around our church buildings should be audibly thankful the congregation is part of their neighborhood.
In other words, we need to get more involved in our community. I can agree with this one, but they are too busy on their phone to be involved in making their church relevant to the community.

11. Stop Talking About Us (Unless You’re Actually Going to Do Something)

Despite the stereotypes about us, we are listening to phrases being spoken in our general direction. Lip service, however, doesn’t cut it. We are scrutinizing every action that follows what you say (because we’re sick of being ignored and listening to broken promises).
They say they don’t want lectures, they want help, but, when we try, they reject what we say. I also think they are saying, practice what you preach. Hypocrisy is a problem, and it does drive many people away, especially if our children see hypocrisy in us parents.

12. You’re Failing to Adapt

Here’s the bottom line, church—you aren’t reaching millennials. Enough with the excuses and the blame; we need to accept reality and intentionally move toward this generation that is terrifyingly anti-church.
The millennials are blaming the church because it is not changing to do things their way. I think it is the millennials that need to accept the blame for their failings. The church is to teach them what is right, not adapt to their changed morality. Parent’s need to parent better and teach their kids more responsibility. There needs to be more tough love.

Let’s Look At The Real Problem

I believe that this article misses the main point. Everything is based upon Barna Research, and Barna doesn’t distinguish between real Christians and nominal Christians. I believe that we are losing our youth to the world because we are sloppy in how we evangelize. Modern evangelism focuses on God’s love and desire to save all of us. It is true that God loves us and that He wants us to get saved. If you study the Bible you will find that biblical evangelism focuses on God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness, not God’s love. We are saved by grace, through faith, without works.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
There is, however, a process that brings one to the point of faith. It starts with the preaching of the Word of God.
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21)
This next passage gives the process in revers order:
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:13-15)
Someone must be sent to preach the Word of God so people will know their state before a holy God. The preacher must preach clearly so they can hear. Once they hear, it is their responsibility of believe what they have heard. For this to happen the Holy Spirit must bring conviction in their hearts. Then they must call upon the Lord. Some think this last part means praying a prayer. If it does, I don’t see anyone in the Bible ever getting saved, because I have never found an example of someone saying the “sinner’s prayer” in Scripture. Notice what the preceding verses say:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (Romans 10:9-11)
Notice that it is a confession with the mouth, and a belief in the heart that saves. There is no mention of a prayer. The calling upon the Lord is the confession of Him as Lord. I don’t want you to misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with praying at the time of salvation. The problem is, too many make the prayer the saving factor. It is not, it is the believing in the heart that saves. When someone prays at the time of their salvation, it usually means they have already believed. If not, why would they pray? The point is, many young people are leaving our churches because we have assured them that they are saved because they said a prayer. We have not expected or demanded the biblical evidence of true salvation, that of a changed life.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
We excuse the unbiblical behavior of the youth in our churches by saying it is just the way young people are today. Peer pressure causes them to behave the way they do. This is not the real reason and we can see this in the fact that some of our young people really do have changed lives. I believe the real reason is threefold. First, we assume they are saved because they said a prayer. Secondly, the parents are not fulfilling their responsibility of training up their children. Thirdly, sound doctrine and holy living are not being preached in our churches. I have already dealt with the first of these, so let’s look at the other two. Parents are to train up their children. This is a military term, and it means to train them so well in the things of the Bible that their automatic response to things is a biblical response. It is like what happens in basic training in the military where soldiers are taught to respond correctly without having to think about it. There is little teaching of doctrine and holy living in our churches today. I don’t think this is deliberate, and I think the problem stems from three things. First, we don’t want to be negative, but preaching in Scripture usually starts with the negative, and when that is understood, it moves to the positive. The second part of this is the idea that verse by verse teaching and preaching is the best. First let me say, there is nothing wrong with verse by verse teaching, it is just not the best for teaching these things. We are told that if we preach and teach verse by verse, we will cover all biblical precepts. While there is truth in this statement, there is also a major flaw. You will touch on them, but you will not teach them in the depth necessary to make them part of your hearers lives. If we follow the biblical example of preaching, most of it will be topical. The second part is that we put most of our emphasis on soul-winning. I am not diminishing the importance of soul-winning, but the primary purpose of the preaching in the church house is to grow Christians. I don’t have the time to get into this now, but just read Ephesians Chapter 4, starting and verse 11, and you will see this truth.

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