Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

7 Reasons Young Believers Struggle with Church (and 8 Ways Older Believers Can Help)

  • Dr. Chuck Lawless ChuckLawless.com
7 Reasons Young Believers Struggle with Church (and 8 Ways Older Believers Can Help)

I spend much of my time with seminary students, but I also spend time with young believers who have been raised in church, but who aren’t preparing for ministry. Often, I connect with this group when I speak in collegiate ministries or serve as an interim pastor. Many of these young believers, I’m learning, struggle with church.

Here are some of the reasons why:

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Rahul Anil

1. They’ve been told what to believe, not taught why to believe it.

1. They’ve been told what to believe, not taught why to believe it.

No one’s ever helped them think through their beliefs; the message they’ve heard is instead, “Just believe it because we’re telling you to.” That reasoning doesn’t hold much water for this group.

2. They long for older mentors but can’t find them in the local church. 

To be fair, the young believers don’t always ask – but when they do, it’s hard to find anyone willing to take on this task. Too often, these young people find their heroes outside the church.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Dorothy Puscas

3. Their churches have sometimes forgotten them after their teen years.

3. Their churches have sometimes forgotten them after their teen years.

No church I know intentionally does so, but our structures and programs sometimes leap from youth ministry to young couples ministry. At a time when young believers are often most open to being challenged and stretched, churches aren’t ready for them.

4. They’ve been raised in a culture that questions or denies the moral standards of Christianity. 

Couple this reality with the truth that churches haven’t discipled well, and young people question why Christians take the stands they take. In fact, they sometimes see the stands as mean and arrogant – at times, because that’s the way some believers come across, even as we stand for biblical truth.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

5. They make no assumption that the Bible is the Word of God.

5. They make no assumption that the Bible is the Word of God.

"Thus says the Lord” means little to a generation that’s been exposed to contradicting truth claims and other world faiths. They’re not opposed to Christian conclusions, but they don’t automatically accept them.

6. They’ve sometimes come from Christian homes marked by hypocrisy. 

When what they see from their family on Sunday is not what they see the rest of the week, they almost can’t help but question the validity of Christianity.

Photo Credit: Pexels

7. They don’t know many strong believers well.

7. They don’t know many strong believers well.

It’s not that their church doesn’t have any strong believers, though; it’s just that the young people have seldom been connected with them. In my judgment, though, it’s not the responsibility of the young believers to come to us; it’s our job as older believers to reach out to them.

Read this Bible text, and it’s tough for any of us not to see our responsibility to give some time and attention to young persons:

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Caleb George

Titus 2:2-8

Titus 2:2-8

“Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

Photo Credit: Unsplash/KiwiHug
 

Here are some ways to “jumpstart” that commitment:

Here are some ways to “jumpstart” that commitment:

 

1. Spend time with young people who have an interest in your profession.

That common interest provides the basis for conversation, and conversation can lead to mentoring and investment. You might even invite them to your workplace.

2. Invite a younger believer to lunch.

You don’t need to have any agenda other than getting to know each other. We can learn and teach a lot over a few meals.

Photo Credit: Pexels

3. Invite younger couples for a meal in your home.

3. Invite younger couples for a meal in your home.

Just a few hours watching how you treat your spouse and raise your children can be life-changing to younger believers who’ve had no Christian role models.

4. Take a younger believer to a sporting event with you.

If you want them to really see your Christianity in action, have younger believers around you when the traffic is crazy or the referee makes a bad call against your team.

5. Read a book together.

Some folks aren’t readers, so you’ll need to find a book that works for both of you. Others are avid readers, but they’ve never been invited to discuss a book outside of a classroom. 

Photo Credit: Pexels

6. Work with your church’s student pastor to hang out with younger believers.

6. Work with your church’s student pastor to hang out with younger believers.

I’d be surprised if that pastor doesn’t want dedicated, genuinely Christian older believers influencing the youth group.

7. Participate in your church’s membership class.

Even if you’re already a member, talk with a pastor about your attending the class regularly to encourage new believers and members. I suspect that mentor/mentee relationships might develop.

8. Commit to interceding regularly for a younger believer.

You might be surprised how praying for somebody (which requires conversations to learn about prayer needs) can lead to a discipling relationship.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

"Many of these young believers, I’m learning, struggle with church...It’s our job as older believers to reach out to them."

"Many of these young believers, I’m learning, struggle with church...It’s our job as older believers to reach out to them."

Chuck Lawless is Dean of Doctoral Studies and Vice-President of Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Team Leader for Theological Education Strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dr. Lawless was awarded an MDiv and a PhD in Evangelism/Church Growth from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, where he also served as professor and dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. Prior to that, he was pastor of two Ohio churches. A conference leader and author of several books, including Discipled Warriors, Putting on the Armor, Mentor, and Nobodies for Jesus, Dr. Lawless has a strong interest in discipleship and mentoring.

Dr. Lawless is also president of The Lawless Group, a church consulting firm (www.thelawlessgroup.com). He and his wife, Pam, have been married for more than 20 years, and they live in Wake Forest, NC.

This article was orginially published as two posts on ChuckLawless.com. Reprinted with permission. Read the originals here: 7 Reason Young Men Raised in Church Still Struggle with Church and 8 Ways Older Believers Can Invest in Younger Believers. 

Photo Credit: Unsplash





Follow Crosswalk.com