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The Mission of OAFC is to equip youth and adults to witness more effectively of Jesus Christ through Singing, Bible Studies, Personal Witnesses, Dramas, Puppet Shows, and Neighborhood Canvassing.
"You Lost Me."
Part of being a youth evangelism organization is constantly learning and re-learning about trends among youth - both in the Church and outside of it - and among those to whom we witness. That's why I recently picked up David Kinnaman's new book, "YOU LOST ME: why youth are leaving the Church and rethinking faith." The author had previously done a book on why this new generation isn't attracted to the Church, called "UNCHRISTIAN." In this book, he turns the lens inside the Church and asks especially youth 18-30 years old, known in sociology as Mosaics, why they are leaving the Church. As the president of the Barna Group, a cultural opinions survey-analyzing organization, the results of this wide-ranging study are certainly worth the time of anyone interested in youth and evangelism ministry. If you're an adult or youth worker, I encourage you to take note of this and seek to put it to work in your ministry. If you're a youth, I ask you to look at what he has to say and review whether it fits you or those you know, and how we might work together to help you and your fellow youth not to get lost in the shuffle.
While emphasizing that every individual story matters, "YOU LOST ME" notes a trend among this generation's youth that so many either 1) walk away from the Church but still consider themselves Christians (whom he calls, Nomads), 2) reject or lose their faith, describing themselves as "no longer Christians" (whom he calls, Prodigals), or 3) find themselves trapped between an anti-church culture and their desire to be part of the Church (whom he calls, Exiles). Now, people leaving the Church is nothing new to history - consider John 6:60-66 when some turned away because his teaching was too hard for them - but in this generation the numbers of people leaving, and that from a single generation, are startling and worrisome for anyone concerned with faith formation in the Church and the world.
From his many studies and surveys, Kinnaman and the Barna Group have identified three major reasons Mosaics are leaving the Church and rethinking faith. These are the areas of 1) Access, 2) Alienation, and 3) Authority. Youth today have access to anything and everything through technology that wasn't even available 20 years ago, but it's been pointed out that that kind of access to knowledge has come at the expense too often of the ability to wisely discern the good from the bad; the helpful from the hurtful, so that youth are overloaded with information and told they have to choose from more options than any previous generation ever had, and certainly at a younger age. Compounding this, the hectic schedules and the very real generation gap, plus the modern mindset of "newer is better," have actually served too often to alienate youth from their parents and other adults, forcing too many away from the wisdom of experience and discernment and into a youth-only worldview where too often there haven't been honed the skills for dealing with the more mature aspects of life. (For more on this topic, check out Chapp Clark's, Hurt 2.0). Into this whole issue comes the culmination of the Baby Boomer call to "Trust no one under 30;" the call to reject the authority structures of previous generations and build anew. Mosaics take this to a whole new level because they weren't separatingfrom the past - they've been separated from it their whole lives - and so don't have the ties to tradition and expectation of those who went before. So, the Church's teaching that Christ is the only way to God (John 14), that we are all the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12), and that the Bible is the only authoritative, revealed Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), strike many of this generation as simply untenable.
What you quickly discover, though, in all of this, is that youth are actually more interested and willing than ever to learn about reality. However, the canned answers that at one time satisfied an overwhelmingly Christian culture no longer do the trick. Youth don't really want a "fast-food" Church, they want substance, they want "meat and potatoes," and they're ready and willing to go deep. In other words, they really want historic, biblical, confessional, discipleship Christianity with roots and reasons; with a willingness to do what the Apostles and their heirs did: stand up and give reasons - real, rational, reasons - for why we believe, teach, and confess what we do about God and Christ. It's about being real, holistic, life-claiming, and life-giving. That's biblical Christianity. So let's do that.
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