A disappearing generation

Like many congregations, our church is grappling with the problem of the “disappearing generation”.

Our pastor shared with us last Sunday some figures about teenagers and twenty-somethings who simply stop attending church – any church.  In effect, they feel that Christianity is no longer relevant to their lives.  I don’t have the figures at hand, but we were all startled by how serious the issue is.

This is a concern because many have attended Sunday School and youth groups and heard countless sermons and yet feel that God is irrelevant.

This hits home with evangelicals, in particular, because the story of the charismatic and evangelical wing of Christianity has been steady – and, in some cases, spectacular – growth in the United States and, to a lesser extent, Canada until recent years.  More recent figures suggest that the evangelical Christian church in the U.S. has levelled off and even started declining.

Why?

Scholars and church leaders have various explanations.  I don’t know them all.

One question occurs to me: Why is evangelical Christianity growing by leaps and bounds in Africa, Asia and South America and not in North America and Europe?

One possible answer is that the church in Canada and the U.S. isn’t much different than the world around us. But, it is radically different in Africa, Asia and South America.

In the comforable communities in which we live, we can easily get along without God.  We don’t need him if we have a decent job, a house, a car and a little extra income.  If we have a health problem, we have medicare in Canada.  If we’re hurting inside, we have access to psychiatrists or tranquilizers.

We Christians have unconsciously bought into this.  So, it’s not surprising that our children have, too.

If Jesus were here, what would he say?

He’d probably begin by telling us to love God and love others.  But that involves sacrifice as I mentioned in my previous post.

He’d likely go on to say that we should value our brothers and sisters higher than ourselves.  He’d call on us to be united in love, handling differences with mutual kindness and compassion.

He’d also point out that God is able to do all things – more, in fact, than we can ask or imagine.  He is a god of the supernatural, something many Westerners have stopped believing.

He is a god, as well, of justice and mercy.  So, Christ would tell us to reach out to people who need help.

You can think of other things Jesus would say.

The point is that if we lived the way Jesus told us to live, we would be different.  And our children would see the difference.  And, I believe that many would be inspired to follow the Christ we model in our lives.

This is a cautionary story for me.  I ask myself: What am I modelling?

 

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