I've been hearing for years that we have a problem with young people leaving the church in record numbers. People who care, and I am among them, wring our hands and look around at each other wondering, "What can we do?".
One attempt to address this problem and make church more appealing to young people is to make it FUN, and sparkly, and engaging, and interactive, and F-U-N, FUN, FUN, FUN.
I've often thought this was about as misguided as handing out dollar bills at the door. I mean, sure, it would keep people coming back. But for what?
And let's face it, if what young people really want is fun and interactive, why wouldn't they just go to a karaoke bar? Karaoke bars specialize in fun. And when the church tries to mimic that, it's just sad.
The church should not be about fun. Have you heard of Jesus? He bled and suffered a cruel death for you and me. The church should be about loving and serving and honoring a risen savior.
This article on the trend of teens being "fake Christians" hits the nail on the head:
"We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake," Corrie says.
Teens want to know what they are participating in is meaningful and important. They aren't fooled with "mission trips" to Orlando, Florida. That's karaoke.
This week our family had the opportunity to serve a community that had been hit hard by a tornado. We explained to our kids that we were going to serve because we want to be like Jesus, and He "came, not to be served, but to serve," and Christians "love our neighbors as ourselves."
From the article:
"If you don't say you're doing it because of your faith, kids are going to say my parents are really nice people," Dean says. "It doesn't register that faith is supposed to make you live differently unless parents help their kids connect the dots."
We all served together, along side young and old, unloading an 18 wheeler full of disaster relief supplies for tornado victims who found their cars upside down in a neighbor's yard, who crawled out from under mattresses in their bathtubs to find their roof and walls and all their possessions were gone.
80 year old men waited patiently while 7 and 9 year old girls worked together to carry heavy boxes that grown men could have easily handled alone. They know how critical it is to for the future of the church to do important things.
Why are young people leaving the church? Because karaoke bars are better at fun. Wake up, church. Stop competing with fun. We must be about the important business of loving God and the sometimes difficult and dirty business of loving and serving others.
We must give young people something worthwhile and important to dedicate themselves to.