Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Why Do young adults hate the church?! WHy i love the church.

Why do young adults hate the church?
I have expressed a few times lately that, "I love the church" and it seems to be such a breath of fresh air to pastors.
why is everyone so surprised when a guy in his 20's says that?!

Are we really that cynical, skeptical, and indifferent about church in my generation?!?
What i love about church:
It helps you build community-
You would do that if you were outside so why not start where you can find people with the same heart and passion

It is a resource-
It is such an easy way for people to help and encourage each other

There is power in numbers-

I tried to get a petition going my sophomore year of college but found life a lot more difficult doing it by myself. I needed a team. Also you can't influence a nation by yourself. To really make a major influence you need a team, group, or body of people to make a major impact.

Discipleship-
You usually shouldn't help someone come to know Christ without having some way for the new believer to get involved and see what it looks like to live a Christian life. To be taught what that looks like is a lot to carry on one person but to bring them into a community, where it is accomplished together is right.

It is everything i desire in everyday life as a Christian-
So often through the week i wish i had people who wanted to pray with me, to gather together and talk about my questions and issues, where life and God were the center of conversation, where i knew that others wanted to converse over the same topics, to be able to express to God my feelings through a song, to be taught by someone who knows more about the Bible and life.

Perspective-
Just going to church doesn't make Sunday the Sabbath, but it is such a good kick start for making the day different. It makes it so much easier for me to set the day aside as different, as a day of rest and family, when i wake up for church instead of it being like every other day that i sleep in or have an agenda.

Accountability-
By yourself you can get screwed up if you don't have the appropriate people or personalities to stand up and challenge your ways

Hopeful WorldView-

If everyone in your life circle is messed up and hopeless it is easy to begin to think the whole world is that way, but if you hear testimonies and see people thriving and living in victory it let's you see God is at work

Know Your Not Alone-
Along the same lines, sometimes we think we are the only ones striving for Jesus or not getting the whole thing and it is good to find others doing the same.

Reminder: More than learning, i often just need a reminder to stop and pray and rely on him, and remember the things i have already learned. Who better than people outside yourself!

My Aching Heart For the Church:
As so many young people do, it seems to be a yearning for the church to relevant, real, and speak truth in a way that is congruent with my life. Growing up we often deal with the church being too legalistic as we grow from a child to an adult and we are trying to transfer that over as our maturity concept of truth develops from concrete into concepts.
We are an active people, so many have trouble seeing church as only teaching, study, and a requirement. It is for many, something good they feel they should do, yet something they see many problems with. I by no means desire for church to be done away with, but I do desire for most of the churches that i have been a part of to step outside of Sunday church, outside of structured teaching and to engage the culture with new ways to engage people with truth. I know it is being done and even the ideas i would come up with probably have already been tried. But i would say as a whole that there are many people my age like me that think in the back of their heads, "Something... I don't know what, but SOMETHING needs to change." This is where we all differ in our opinions and all get in useless squabbles, but this is my mind.

So Especially for those in my young adults, could you answer these two questions for me?
Instead of what is wrong with church: If you were imagining the place you would just be stoked to go, What would that be? What could church look like?

I would appreciate your comments

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brent, definitely a great question and one that makes you think...one that i you may have asked me before...But anyway, here's my two cents.
I think that people of all ages are turned off to the “church” and becoming involved in one for so many reasons…one major one being that they only know it as a place that you go on Sunday morning…worship, dress a certain way… Maybe they’ve had a bad experience growing up there…maybe they’ve felt judged and ridiculed by those in the church…anyway, for some reason there is a large group of people that don’t feel like investing their time, energies, or selves into the church. Yet, I think that so many people that don’t attend church haven’t been exposed to the evolving church that is much more inviting and accepting…loving. And not that all churches are striving for this inclusion, many churches appear to be more concerned with preserving “traditions” that unbelievers don’t necessarily understand or relate to than they are about reaching out and loving people where they are at. (Not to say that tradition is not important or shouldn’t be preserved, but we need to remember that Jesus Himself was willing to break the rules to reach out to people. He ate with sinners, He had fellowship with people that our society views as being worthless…yet, He loved above all else). So, back to the question, what do people want church to be or to look like...what would make them excited about coming to church….the church that I already love and feel connected in. People I think want to be able to come to a place or meet in community where #1, they feel comfortable and safe…where they feel welcome and wanted…where they can relate to people, be understood, accepted for who they are and supported. Where they feel that people deeply and GENUINELY care for them….where people are “real,”…where it’s alright to show weakness and communicate their struggles, share their dreams…where their needs are met, where they’re prayed for and thought of not just on Sunday…where people invest time into their lives. God created us as deeply relational beings…people long to be known and loved for who they are. When they find this place, they will be drawn to be there…no matter if it is AT the church, at someone’s house, in a coffee shop, on the Pier :)….we ARE the church.

Anonymous said...

What comes to mind from my observations, or at least how I perceive what I observe, culminates from a variety of influences both direct and indirect.

For one, mass marketing bombards our psyches with influence, suggestion, cues, keys, triggers, and offers to do what the marketers want you to do… that is… buy or buy in to their product or service. With so many influences ranging from print, to audio (music), to video (the TV), the developing mind is not able to easily disseminate what is the right thing to do. With most humans having such a narrow perception of time, they don’t know what works right today, let alone for thousands of years. I'm not sure if influences aren't reminding people that what we read, hear and see isn't always the truth and is there to make money and many cases now days just to entertain and pleasure.

Second, deriving from the above mass marketing, attitudes towards how we act and why we act are shifting from (or maybe never were) a selfless manner towards a selfish manner. I don’t know how many times a week I hear some variant of the phrase, “who cares.” I think a large majority of the population just does not care about anything other than themselves or those closest to them. From our social interactions personally to social interactions professionally, the reason why people do what they do in many professions is purely out of selfish intent. “You come first and that’s all that matters.” I agree in many cases, however once one is able to take care of themselves individually and collectively, I believe there needs to be a shift towards developing others. How do you develop others, when you don’t CARE about the others development and/or the people that need to develop, don’t CARE about developing? How does a family, business, town, city, county, state, nation and world develop, if the intent is about the selfish individual and not the selfless corporate body?

Finally, I think many churches throughout time have abused the power that they’ve been given, neglected the body of Christ, and outright mislead people. This has changed or scared the perception of those believers in which the Lord entrusted the church to lead. However, again, on the other side of the coin, selfishness has led the body to flight versus fight. Therefore, not developing the church towards a more righteous path. We are all humans born to sin, and if it was not for the discipline which God brought us through the Lord Jesus Christ, many of us would be genocidal maniacs rummaging the countryside looting, pillaging and slaying all in our way… either for ourselves or some dude called a king (ok maybe a dudette called a queen also). As the previous poster noted, just as the world has evolved, so has the church. As more people learned to actually READ over time, people were able to find the truth. It is the truth that will set you free and as righteous disciples of Christ, it is our God given right to find the truth (READ), free ourselves and free others from the burdens and yokes that keep us from living our lives to the fullest… not only for ourselves, but for the body. We are the body.

Proverbs 12:1 - Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. (Check out the rest of Proverbs and Proverbs 12).

James 1:5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Check out the rest of James 1… actually; check the rest of the bible out.

Timothy 3:16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Anonymous said...

I'm a single 20 something. I graduated from a Christian college single. It's hard for me myself to feel PEACE with where I'm at in my life after being a bridesmaid a dozen times. Going into the church, I feel so much pressure to get into a relationship. I cannot tell you how alone I feel on a day to day basis and how much of a struggle it is for me as a girl, and for my single girlfriends as well, to find peace with where we are at in life and to remember to trust where God is going to take us and that God has a plan. When I go to church, I get so many comments from very well meaning people who are married telling me they're praying for me to 'find a man'. It's almost like a sin to be a single Christian after 24. I am 23, I have a college degree, I love my career and am pursuing it and building wonderful relationships.... but I don't have a ring. It's almost like the focus of the church is to pair people up rather than grow in Christ. I'd go more often if people didn't feel sorry for me, introduce me to every man they know between 18 and 40. I love the church I grew up in, I love Christ and I strive to build that relationship... but I don't feel comfortable in the institution that is a church. And unfortunately, I may not until I've completed the 'Christian circle of life'.

Anonymous said...

I was at my sister's church last week, and the pastor preached on the 3 different kinds of relationships that people have with each other in American culture. The first is people-people. These are the people we share our lives with...family, friends, teachers, co-workers. They are those we invest our time and efforts into. Then there are machine people. These are those who check you out at the grocery store, serve you at a resturant, help you at the bank or the post office. You talk with them to get your business done, but nothing else. You go through the "Hi, how are you?" question expecting them to respond "Good, and you?" Then there are the landscape people. These are people you see every day...other customers at the grocery store, people at the park, fellow residents in your appartment building...that are just there. You never talk to them, never acknowledge them. I think that in the church, people are looking for people-people relationships. Those who are ignored in the church are not as likely to want to stay involved. So I think in churches people are looking for the personal relationships, knowing that there are people out there that care about who they are, no matter where they have come from.

Anonymous said...

~ Gandhi once said, "I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." ~

I feel like Ghandi is not the only one who feels this way about the church. I believe that there are many others, believers and non-believers who are "turned off" by the church, simply because the people in it are not reflecting the true character of Jesus Christ. Many of my non-Christian friends are turned off by the church simply because they feel like it is filled with a bunch of bigoted, pride-filled, judgmental hypocrites who spend all day pointing fingers at each other, rather than loving. But isn't that the reason that people come to church? To become more like Christ? To be around others with who will encourage them in their walk with the Lord? I feel like many young adult Christians don't have a deeply rooted love for the church simply because they are so focused on all of the things that the church is doing wrong, that they fail to recognize all that the church is doing that is SO good. We spend more time complaining and criticizing things that we don't like about the church, than we spend investing our God-given gifts and talents to build up the church. Maybe this is the reason why so many young people feel disconnected from the church today. Rather than plugging into a church and actively trying to participate, we just sit back and expect the church to meet our every need, and then get offended when we don't feel welcomed or loved. I also feel like many Christians, especially of us who have grown up going to church, feel like church is more of a duty than a necessity. I think that many feel like once they've gone to church on Sunday, they can simply check one thing off their "spiritual to-do list" and move on with their lives. They go, not really expecting God to work in their hearts, but just to say that they went. I feel like this is attitude of unexpectancy is one thing that is holding this generation from being completely sold out for Jesus Christ. Sure, we say we believe in Him, but do we truly believe that He is able to change us and even do miracles in our lives as we surrender to Him? I feel that Jesus intended the church to be full of people who are continually overflowing with the love of Christ. The "ultimate" church would be filled with people who are constantly looking for ways to go deeper in their relationship with the Lord and how to reach out to the lost, hurting, poor and broken. It would be full of people who are overflowing with the fruits of the Spirit so much so that others are simply drawn into the group and into the presence of the living God. It would be a place where people feel free to share their burdens, passions, thoughts, and sins without fear of judgement. People would feel that they could be open & vulnerable with each other. It would be a place where people are so excited about the Lord that they can't help but continually praise Him & encourage other believers, wherever they may be in their spiritual journey (rather than looking down upon those who seem "less spiritual"). The ultimate church would be a body of believers who have completely emptied themselves of "the flesh" and seek to be filled and led by the Spirit. Although, this ulitmate goal may seem far-fetched to some, I firmly believe that NOTHING is impossible with the help of Almighty God. So here is my prayer for the church (myself included): That we would stop pointing fingers and judging those around us and that, with God's help, WE would begin to BE the change that we want to see in the world."

Btw... check out this great article found on boundless.org (a site by Focus on the Family)- http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001151.cfm

This is also a great article http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001605.cfm

Anonymous said...

Brent, I am also one of those strange young adults that is in love with my church. I would say I am constantly surprised at how many answers to prayer I see on a regular basis. I myself stopped going to church for the longest span of my life just a year and a half ago. I was judged and shunned intead of loved and rebuked. I was bitter and tried to kick God out of my life completely(good luck if you ever try that!) Slowly I was drawn back into church at Lakeshore Vinyard and I learned grace and forgiveness. I wanted real people, not people who sinned in private and pretended to be perfect in church. I have never seen so much fruit in one place. I experienced peace, grace, patience, forgiveness. I had people that I had never met before sit down with me and ask me what I needed prayer for. I was directed to the women's ministry to find guidance. I was physically healed and currently my emotions are being healed. We not only study together to learn, but we really dig in and focus on hearing God and applying what we're hearing. Something that I hate to admit despite my many years of christianity and bible college, I still don't get. We eat together and meet in care groups that we call kinships. Our kinships then find activities to do together, we serve together, and most importantly, we pray together. I have never been more accepted as I am and been more free to reveal all of myself to a small group of people. Our prayer requests are beyond aunts and uncles and jobs (though those are still present) and we pray for strongholds and we have accountability, and encouragement flows freely through so many.

Now with all the wonderful things I have to say about my church in particular, I know that no church is perfect or without flaws. Just yesterday we recieved news that one of our pastors stepped down because of a difference of direction. There was no drama, and I have every reason to believe that there were no lies being told to gloss things over. What did happen was the rest of the pastoral staff surrounded this pastor and prayed over him for the next step. He is staying in our church and taking a secular job to make ends meet while he prays and waits on God.

All this news came as quite the shock to me, but one thing that I have been learning is God's rebuking doesn't hurt. When we come humbly before God with repentance and sorrow, He sees beyond our mistakes, forgives us, and recognizes the pain and lack of faith and understanding that led us to that place. The only way you can learn a lesson like that, is to see it modeled. So is my church without sin, no. But they don't hide and fear being caught, they don't judge and shame. They confess, they forgive, and they love. This is what I was searching for and needing in a church family and I will tell anyone who will listen how much I love my church.

Brent said...

Wow, i love the responses... I am going to recollect the comments and write a second post off of those responses. So much good, so much desire to see the church succeed that i can't help but get excited!