I received an article titled "The Teenage Spiritual Crisis." In short, it talked about young people, their faith, and how church has...simply put...failed them.
The spiritual yearning is there but these young people don't come to church, they don't see the Bible as God's authoritative word, and they are jaded in the reality that God seemingly hasn't done anything in our world since Moses. And so we confirm them, asking the confirmands if they believe all the stuff we told them to believe. They nod, take their certificate, and head off to celebrate with the family. Sent, likely not to be seen again.
Do young people not want God?
Don't they understand how church works?
I tend to blame teachers, institutions, and those charged with running the churches when people choose to walk away from Christianity. We're stuck in our ways, we know God, we come to church, and everyone who doesn't is lost.
But I think it's the church who is lost today.
Trying Something New
The other day we had our evening service (Evensong) in the labyrinth located in the back of the church. To our surprise, Ellie and I found a young couple actually walking it as we began to set up for our gathering. We introduced ourselves and let them know we were having service at 5pm. They had other plans but seemed genuinely interested.
It made me happy to see people seeking spirituality, pondering God, and even acting out in some expression of that.
We practiced for Evensong at a park on Greenwich Avenue earlier this week, guitars and all. A young lady who had been eating lunch, came up to us, and expressed her gratitude for the “nice backdrop” we had created for everyone. People were drawn to us, they are drawn to our church, they are drawn to God.
It's capitalizing on those moments where we find the person drawn.
What can we tell them about God, about faith, and how we integrate that in our everyday lives?
My hope is that we will be a community that can answer these questions because right now, I don't think we offer much for that couple in the labyrinth, for that young lady at the park, and the thousands that walk by our church, never daring to enter its doors.
Not to be fooled, these young people have observed that a lot of people can "play church" but as soon as those doors open and service is over, God can often get left behind. So they don't go into the building where people play religion. Young people want the real stuff, they want real Christianity, one that challenges how we think and behave. They want to follow Jesus who was a political radical teaching that down is the way up and that great people sit after everyone else is comfortable. They wouldn't see political figures as saviors because they'd already have one. They'd participate in outreach every single day and not once a month. Each day would be baptism, each day confirmation, for all Christians are called to lay their lives down at the foot of the cross, earning them that once derogatory slur, "wannabe Christ!" (that's what Christian literally means in its original context).
And so as someone who is part of the problem, working for the big house of God, I have to critique.
Why are people not attracted to our church?
Maybe it's because we're not doing anything that is attractive.
As that someone who is part of the problem, as someone who knows whats wrong, I can't be quiet. As an employee at God's house I have to reimagine a church for those who have left and given up. Resources need to be shifted, new songs need to emerge, and programming needs to be rethought as to how it serves the soul.
But not just me. Everyone of us called to follow Christ are pulled into the work of critiquing and reimagining.
No more hand me downs. God has called all of us to go. To do whatever it takes for those young people to be drawn to God...and when they are drawn, like the woman who met Jesus at the Well,
A conversation will begin.
Religious questions get answered.
Thirst will be quenched.
Chains will be broken.
And Saviors will be worshipped in that building that was designed to do this work daily.
TLDR: Maybe it's time we start doing more attractive and effective stuff.