Friday, February 13, 2015

Students Need to Experience Something Beyond Church

Eight out of ten students participate in church during their teenage years, but most of them will take a permanent detour from active faith at some point soon after they get their driver’s licenses. That’s right: only two out of ten of those celebrated teenage converts maintain Christian belief and practice between their teens and the end of their twenties.

The vast majority will cross over to the other side: pronouncing Christianity boring, irrelevant, and out of touch. We’ve tried too long to educate their minds instead of engaging their lives. The more we try to change the way we do church so this generation will join us, the more they seem to stay away. Although we’ve tried many ways to keep church from being boring, our best efforts are doing little to improve the image of the church.

Some of us are convinced the system is fundamentally flawed because we don’t know what our goal is. We creatively market our programs, design innovative and relevant productions, and organize events that will capture the student imagination so we can get them into church. What if our goal should be not to get them into church? What if the same energy could be applied to mobilize them to be the church?

We have discovered a short window of time during the teenage years when students need to experience something beyond church as a spectator sport. If a young person is not challenged by hands-on personal ministry, their faith will likely be side-tracked and even sabotaged. For some, that hands-on experience is a mission project across the ocean. For others, it’s a role in a family production or a place behind the ladle at a soup kitchen.

Students moving from the teenage years to their own college and post-college lives want to try out what they’ve been learning. They don’t want to practice being better church people for when they grow up; they want to start now. We all know that our faith grows when our faith is challenged to do something (for Christ).

Reggie Joiner
Founder, ReThink
Quote from Unchristian by David Kinnaman and Fermi Project (Baker Books, 2007) pg. 142-143
Original title as ‘Do Something’

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