Thursday, 11 August 2016

Why Young People Leave the Church

My commenting friend Warren, on a previous post, made me aware of Pete Enns. I haven't read all his material, so cannot either recommend or condemn his views, but I did find this entry interesting and challenging. I agree with much of it.
"The 2011 Barna survey on American Christianity published “Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church.” And here they are. I read through them and I think to myself, “Yup. Yup. Uh huh. That one, too. And that one.” These ring utterly true to me from my experience..."
You can read about the issue more in-depth at the link, but briefly, here are the 6 reasons:
  • Reason #1 - Churches seem overprotective.
  • Reason #2 – Teens’ and twenty-somethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
  • Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
  • Reason #4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
  • Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
  • Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt. 
A few thoughts of my own:

Regarding #3, I spoke recently to a young man who asked, "If I don't believe the universe was created in six actual days, will I go to hell?"

My answer, aside from just saying a flat, "No!", and paraphrased here, went something like this:
"Some people believe the earth is 6000 years old and everything was created in 6 literal days, but I don't think it's necessary. It's important to read the Bible and ask, 'What does it really say, and what does it not actually say?'
Genesis 1:1 says that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. It doesn't say when the beginning was; just that in the beginning God created everything. And that, in my opinion, doesn't conflict with science. It concurs, to me, with the concept of the, 'Big Bang.'
The next verse, Genesis 1:2 (NIV) says, 'Now the earth was formless and empty...' It doesn't say when, 'Now' is/was. In my opinion, the first two verses in the Bible could represent times millions of years apart. The earth doesn't have to be, 'young,' Biblically speaking."
Same with the six days. Leaving aside the possibility of completely figurative language, I don't think they necessarily have to be literal 24-hour days and I don't think they have to be literally six consecutive days."

Regarding #5, the question often arises, "What about those who have never heard of Jesus?"
there are those in Christendom who will say they are automatically condemned to hell. I believe that is an overly narrow view. I remember discussing this in the context of 'believers' in the Old Testament and the answer given was that the, "Old Testament Saints" were saved by standing on the promises of a coming Saviour.

Well, Biblically speaking, when were the first promises given? In the garden of Eden, to the first humans (Genesis 3). So in essence, every descendent of the first two humans ("Adam and Eve" by name), or more correctly, of Noah's family, can be beneficiaries of those same promises. The Old Testament is a history of a narrow lineage; the Jewish people, and their relationship with God. It says nothing of God's relationship with other people; South Sea Islanders, Native North Americans, people of the Orient. If God could reveal Himself to Abram, and he (Abram) be counted as righteous through his faith, who's to say others could not have been as well. It must be clear that many other events happened in other parts of the world that are not recorded in the Bible.

There is a much greater discussion here, especially in connection with Jesus' exclusive claim in John 14:6, but I have attempted to address that elsewhere and I'll not get into that here.

Regarding #6, this is why I think so highly of the Alpha course, and why I do what I do. Alpha welcomes all, and welcomes any question, without condemnation. Anyone, regardless of background, religion, station in life, sexuality, gender identification or any other factor or characteristic, is welcome to come and hear the Jesus story and the Christian perspective on life, and be introduced to the One who can change their life forever for the better.

My prime desire, and I have been criticized for being too open, for assuming too much generosity in God's grace, is to remove roadblocks that may stand between anyone wanting to know more of God, and the very God who is calling them.

Take Care

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