I don't know if you have taken the time to really look around your church lately, but if you have you might have noticed a serious problem. Here in the southeast, we are seeing a scary trend where our churches are completely void of people in their 20's and 30's. Somehow, we are losing our young people and by the time high school graduation rolls around, they are already gone.
A small percentage of them will find their way back into the church when they become parents and start searching for truth for their children. Still, many of them never return. While new church plants are doing great things to reach this lost generation, there is still a majority that is unreached, uninterested, and unimpressed by our churches today.
If you start talking with people in this age group, you can quickly hear some pretty consistent reasons why they don't intend to go to church on a regular basis. They point out the mind numbing church politics and the great shows of hypocrisy. They are tired of the screaming preachers and the old music. They want something authentic, something applicable to their everyday lives. They don't want CHURCH, they want CHANGE. They want Jesus. Only they can't stand the thought of going into the church to find Him.
That leaves us at a crossroads as a body of believers. We can't continue to expect lost people to just show up on Sundays. Our churches are dying because we assume a bright sign in the front yard is all it takes to reach people. We think if we turn in our envelope with our name printed on the front and sit in our customary pew, things are just as they should be.
We might ask for prayer for a neighbor or shake our heads in sadness about the single mom living down the street, but if she tried to join our church, we would probably take issue with it. "She can't join because she is living with her boyfriend!" Maybe she has a beautiful voice and takes an interest in singing in the choir. We say, "She can't sing in the choir because she was out drinking last weekend."
Can I just say, "Enough already!" How on earth can we expect people to ever meet Jesus with these kind of expectations? We expect them to get clean BEFORE they come to Jesus. We say, "Get your life together and then come to church and meet Jesus." Really? REALLY?
Instead, we need to say, "Bring all your baggage, your hangover, your live in boyfriend, and all your unpaid bills. Show up in your ratty blue jeans and meet Jesus. Let Him put it all back together." Then we show some grace, help with the process, and love these people unconditionally.
It's time that we stop refusing to help people in need because they aren't tithing members. It is time that we stop padding our budget with senior outings and we start spending all that saved money on lost people. Let's start buying groceries for those that are hungry. Let's start offering free baby-sitting for the single mom who needs a few moments to herself on Saturdays. Let's start being the church, rather than pretending that this religious spectacle we conduct is something worshipful.
I am so passionate about this because I have seen so many people my age that have fallen away. As a result, our children never step foot in the church in the first place. The next generation will never have the opportunity to leave the church because they never entered it. This is devastating!
America is so "churched" that we just assume that being a Christian is about this religious practice. We correlate the word Christian to a person who goes to church on Sundays and Wednesdays, teaches a sunday school class, and stays away from lottery tickets and alcohol. But it's more than that... it is so much more than that!
The church doesn't exist to cater to believers. Once you are saved, you are part of the "army" rather than one of the recruits. As I once heard someone say, "You are saved to serve; not to sit and sour!" I am sick and tired of churches being so afraid of change that they repeat the same rituals, songs, programs, and patterns for decades.
Josh compared it to walking through downtown Charlotte using a map from 1954. You just couldn't do it! The city has changed... the culture has changed. The same must be true in our churches. Change is necessary if you want to engage the current culture and reach this lost generation. We don't compromise our doctrine and we don't condone sin. But we love people in their sin and let Jesus deliver them from it.
We stop worrying about which pew we sit in and start thinking about how many people in our communities would spend eternity in hell if all ended right now. It's real, friends. We like to pretend it isn't, but more and more I am impressed that we have to DO something to reach these people in our world. What if we don't tell them? It's unthinkable...
So I guess this whole soapbox should end with a single thought. Unfortunately, I don't have a pretty little ribbon to tie it all up with. Instead, I have a broken heart for a lost generation and a church that is choosing to look away. Friends, we have to do something!-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
See- I told you she was an amazing writer!
Love to you all!