You Lost Me Dissects Post-Youth Group Malaise
- Friday, June 29, 2012
3. Anti-science. Science is often labeled anti-Christian, Christianity labeled anti-science. Young people see animosity on both sides. For those gifted in, curious about, or pursuing careers in science fields, there is frequent pushback from their faith community. They struggle to reconcile the competing narratives of faith vs. science, and have no one in the church they feel they can to turn to.
4. Repressive. The church is viewed by Mosaics as controlling, joyless and stern when it comes to sex, sexuality and sexual expectations. Many young Christians claim to have conservative beliefs but their behaviors are just as libertine as non-Christians.
5. Exclusive. Tolerance is what Kinnaman calls the “north star” of the Mosaics. They are open to and aware of racial diversity, gender equality, social and economic disparities. Unfortunately, the church often does a poor job defending the biblical principles that underlie their stances on social issues, often offering these principles in unloving and exclusive ways towards those who think differently.
6. Doubtless. Mosaics carry with them many doubts, a product of all the competing ideas the world offers them, but feel they have no safe place to express those doubts, or that no one is willing to tackle their doubts in a respectful, thoughtful way.
These issues affect young Christians to different degrees. Some Mosaics become what Kinnaman coins nomads. Nomads, while “spiritual,” have unassociated themselves with the Christian church. Kinnaman describes celebrities Katy Perry and Stephen Colbert as nomads; they have faith in something, but it’s not tied to a church or even a specific religion.
Others become prodigals, or those who have left the church altogether. Sarah is an example of a prodigal, having walked away from her faith after the Christian camp she worked at fired her for dating a guy who didn’t go to church. Many prodigals like Sarah have deep wounds and frustration with Christianity and sadly are some of the most outspoken voices against the Christian faith.
Finally, many become exiles. Exiles continue to have a strong belief in God and hold fast to Christian faith, yet are skeptical of how the church fits into the rest of their lives. They feel lost between the church and culture. Justin is a young Christian filmmaker, living in Hollywood and following his dream of making movies. His parents and church family, however, struggle to understand how he can be a Christian and work in Hollywood; to them, the two don’t seem to mix. He faces criticism and judgment from the Christian community while trying to follow the calling he believes God gave him.
Can the church work through the large roadblocks keeping nomads, prodigals, and exiles away without straying from the truth of the gospel message? Kinnaman thinks so. In fact, he believes the Mosaic generation and the generations before them can learn from one another and build a stronger church in the process.
Kinnaman believes that...
- ...it is imperative for the church to make disciples, particularly through intergenerational relationships.
- ...reconsidering how we know and understand vocation is another important step. “It’s a modern tragedy,” Kinnaman says, “[d]espite years of church-based experiences and countless hours of Bible-centered teaching, millions of next-generation Christians have no idea that their faith connects to their life’s work.”
- ...we need to reprioritize wisdom. “Wisdom empowers us to live faithfully in a changing culture,” Kinnaman notes. Older generations imparting wisdom upon Mosaics will help this group better discern and sift through the mass of unlimited information they consume every day.
The final chapter of You Lost Me is helpful. It is a selection of 50 suggestions from various faith and cultural leaders, some directed to older generations, other bits aimed at Mosaics. Among the ideas presented: how to have more honest dialogue, the significance of confessing failures, what it looks like to hand-craft disciples, and the importance of recovering imagination and creativity in the church. I was grateful to Kinnaman for attempting to provide practical steps to fix a problem that can seem daunting.
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