the weblog of Alan Knox

About teenagers and the church… again

Posted by on Sep 26, 2012 in blog links | 5 comments

About teenagers and the church… again

Mike at “Internet Monk” has written a very good article called “Yet another ‘Wake Up!” Call.”

Like many posts these days (and over the last few years), Mike is writing about the decline in attendance at church events, especially among young adults. His post is actually a summary of another article.

What’s the problem? Well, Mike summarizes the original author’s points:

  • We emphasize decisions not discipleship.
  • We have embraced the concept of “market-driven” youth ministry, giving people what they prefer (a road that has no end).
  • We bought into the idea that youth should be segregated from the family and the rest of the church.
  • We believe that big = effective, and we believe that more programs attended = stronger disciples.
  • We’ve created the perfect Christian bubble (that is bound to burst eventually), then we invite people into our Christian subculture, where professionals are responsible to Christianize them.
  • We imitated our culture’s most successful gathering places in an effort to be “relevant,” forgetting that none of those are places of transformation.
  • We’ve embrace attractional models over missional ones, filling the church and giving us “Sunday experiences” that bear little relation to real life.

I’ll be honest… when I read the list above, I see the same thing: We’re inviting people and attracting people to an event. We’re not inviting people to Jesus, helping them to follow him, and giving them opportunities to learn to serve others together. We think we’re inviting people to follow Jesus, but entertainment will not make a disciple of Jesus… but then neither will a lecture (sermon).

Discipleship is life-on-life work. (And that can’t be programmed…)

I think this is true for teenagers and adults.


5 Comments

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  1. 9-26-2012

    I agree totally with what is written. My question is this, when people talk about discipleship, what do they mean? Everybody going to church/meeting/gathering/group as a family and then going their separate ways all week? (I know what I mean by that, I am curious what people actually mean when I see this discussed on a blog). In your experience, do people actually regularly get together outside of meetings and live their lives together (not talking communes — just going to each other’s houses and sharing your lives) on a regular basis?

    To be honest, I have known a lot of people who talk about walking together (which is really a big part of what I mean by discipleship), but in practice, almost everyone is too busy (even if they are not in organized churches with lots of programs, they are off running to lots of public/private/homeschool related programs and local sports programs, and dance class and music lessons, etc.). We have found very few people (we have found a few) who actually value taking the time on a regular basis to get together outside of “meeting time”.

    I know that we shun commitments (programs and sports and lessons, etc.) like the plague, and, even so, it is sometimes difficult (just getting my work and our homeschool done) for us to find time to get together with people regularly. What do other people do?

    I guess I am curious how real is this talk of living out discipleship in people’s lives?

  2. 9-26-2012

    Gunnar,

    I can’t speak for others, but, yes, we spend time together throughout the week. We are busy, but we include each other in our “busy-ness.” We attend each other’s children’s sports activities together, we exercise together, we share meals together, we homeschool together, etc. This is certainly not a commune… but we do share our lives with one another on a daily basis.

    -Alan

  3. 9-27-2012

    Another problem is that the church has become people-focused rather than Christ-focused. The gauge of success has become how many people we can get on our side rather than just doing what Jesus tells us to do (and how to do it), and letting him grant the success (…and ‘success’ being how he defines it, not us).

  4. 9-27-2012

    I think in a lot of ways, the main blog post is about how we in the church have bought into the world’s idea that being busy and going to lots of activities and programs is how to have a real life. I think that a lot of people are seeing that, in the church at least, doing activities and programs together is not the same as having relationship.

    But even the world recognizes this — we regularly hear about how people need to slow down and take time for relationships.

    It seems to me that the “non-church” and school/homeschool activities and programs that we participate in are really no different from the in-church activities and programs. The sports and school/homeschool activites are usually just as segregated as the church activities/programs and usually even more effective at pulling families apart.

    We have four kids. If we did even one sport per child or any of the other very valuable opportunities out there we would never see each other — to say nothing of seeing other families. And, practically speaking, our friends would not have time to see us because they all have a number of kids and would be running around.

    We work really hard at having families over to “break bread” and pray and talk about our King and just spend time having fun together. It has generally seemed to us that we have had to choose — either be committed to spending time with our brothers and sisters or go to activities.

    I am not at all knocking the value of all these activities — I think they are all (at least mostly) very valuable — but life always comes down to choosing what is going to have eternal consequences.

  5. 9-27-2012

    Andrew,

    Yes, that’s what I meant when I talked about “inviting people to Jesus.” We invite them to many things, activities, and events, but Jesus seems to come further down the line. But, you expressed it much better.

    Gunnar,

    I agree. We can fill our calendars with so many activities that we end up numbing our souls, especially when these are “good” activities. We think that we are obeying God, when in reality we’re simply busy.

    -Alan