The past couple of weeks I’ve highlighted a few of the reasons I’ve seen and heard from young adults as to why they are walking out churches’ doors. But there is one core issue that I think is paramount to young people’s dwindling attendance of church: Church is missing the reality of Christianity.
The Bible teaches the power, dependability, and results of Christianity, but within the church there are very few people who are actually living like this is a reality.
Do we believe Christianity really works? Or do most of us come to church listen to the preaching and say to ourselves, “Well, it sounds nice, but that’s just not real life.”?
Are the promises of Christianity true?
Is the power of God actually capable of changing lives?
Do people really love God? Does God truly love people?
Can we as Christians truly overcome sin in our lives?
Is there even such a thing as faithful servant leadership?
Is the Bible accurate and trustworthy for today?
Can I trust that God will provide for my needs?
Young people are constantly bombarded with marketing. In audacious signs and adds, sellers tell young people what they supposedly need, why the seller’s product is the best for this need, and where to get it at conveniently. So, in a world where creative advertising can make even the most horrific products appear as if they could change your life, is it so strange young people tend to value personal experiences and trusted sources over whoever is marketing the goods?
Church services feel more like a pastor selling an idea or product than the pastor speaking as another consumer sharing a great word-of-mouth review of Christianity. In other words, even if the pastor is preaching real Christianity, it is coming across more like memorized marketing lines than the pastor’s own life experiences with God. And, when one takes a closer look at that leadership’s Christianity, often their life indicates a lack of success in the results they claim come with Christianity. So what then is the conclusion?
The same paradox is often found when interacting with other church goers. They have their rote Biblical responses to life’s hard questions but when pressed about the reality of how this functions in their own lives, their presentations quickly crumble. They acknowledge rather shamefacedly, “I don’t really know. God feels far away to me, too.”
So what then is the conclusion? Does Christianity really work?
There is this phrase people use to encourage others through insecurities or doubts: “Fake it ’til you make it.” Sadly, I think we have begun to respond to Christianity this way. However, where normally there is a belief you can “make it.” In Christianity, “fake it” seems to be accepted as our ongoing earthly existence, and “making it” seems to be accepted as something only to be grasped in heaven.
Basically, the church is responding to Christianity as if they don’t really believe that it works here on earth.
We believe in God. We believe in Jesus and the cross. We believe we are saved from our sins? We believe in the perfection of heaven. We believe one day we will be righteous. We believe in a lot of elements of Christianity, but when Christianity doesn’t look like in what we thought it was supposed to look like in our lives or the lives of others our faith is shaken.
Now, I’m not saying we can’t have doubts, questions, or struggles as Christians. Rather, what I’m saying is, we need to not just talk about the firm foundation of Scripture. We need to actually stand on it.
See, proclaiming a good foundation, admiring that foundation, and even marketing that foundation to others is all well and good, but no matter what materials you use to build your life, your life and Christianity won’t reflect the reality of a solid foundation without an actual strong foundation.
It is only when we actually take the step to stand upon the integrity of God’s foundation (responding to His Word as true) and build our lives (living Christianity) fully upon Him (in His truth, power, and strength) that our Christianity will reflect the unshakable reality of Christianity.
2Ti 2:19 “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’”
Gal 5:25 “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Young people are seeking genuine Christianity that works, and when the church doesn’t provide proof of this reality, what reason is there for them to stay?
Do you believe Christianity is what God says it is?
Do you believe Jesus Christ is who He said He is?
Do you believe Christianity works?
Num 23:19 – “God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”