One of the reasons I believe we are losing so many young people in the church today is because they don’t feel entrusted, engaged, or encouraged. There are no peers set up as leaders. Instead they are discredited, scolded, and criticized by people old enough to be there grandparents.
Many churches and Christian organizations today are suffering with what I call the FUBU* paradigm. Whoever is in charge of the church calls the shots for how the church looks, feels, and functions. If you have old leaders, old financiers, and old members, the organization or church will cater to an older audience or consumer. If you have young leaders, young financiers, and young members, the organization or church will cater to a younger audience or consumer. I wish there was a way to break this cycle, but in my limited experience, I haven’t found a solution.
As a result, what we are seeing today is a lot of older churches dying because they cannot maintain their own FUBU paradigm while their own consumers/audiences are dying off. This may be one of the biggest factors why there are so many statistics to why the church is dying.
When you have this paradigm working in the church, you are going to have fallout. An older audience is looking for a particular experience from church, while a younger audience is looking for something completely different. We can spit and argue as much as we want about who is right or who is wrong, but in the mean time we’re just losing the next generation.
If I’ve said this once, I’ve said it a hundred times; We can’t pass down values without passion. If we want the next generation to stay in church and really stay close to God, then we have to find what their passion is. We have to be willing to focus on the basic essentials and forget about the preferential things we’ve given too much weight to.
If the church is going to survive over the next generation, it it going to look completely different than it does today. Are we willing to invest in the future knowing it won’t be what we would prefer or like?
This brings me to my third principle from Judges on reasons why generations get away from God.
Each generation needs leaders raised up from their generation.
Now, I’m not talking about youth pastors who can play drums, lead worship, and rock at video games. I’m talking about the youth themselves. Let’s face it, parents don’t have much of an audience when it comes to talking to their kids. Teens are more likely to listen to another peer than an adult.
This leads me to another principle.
God uses colorful people to get the job done.
Did you know that Gideon had multiple wives and a mistress to which he had 70 sons, one of which (born to the mistress) killed the other 69 to gain control over the people? Or that Gideon crafted a monument out of gold which inevitably was worshiped as an idol by his own household? Most of these judges wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of doing anything for God in this day and age. There is sort of a blind leading the blind scenario taking place here.
I love this quote from John Wesley.
“Orthodoxy, or right opinion, is, at best, a very slender part of religion. Though right tempers cannot subsist without right opinions, yet right opinions may subsist without right tempers. There may be a right opinion of God without either love or one right temper toward Him. Satan is proof of this.”
From A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God
As long as ‘right opinion’ matters more than expanding the Kingdom, we will continue to see a church struggling and dying.
*FUBU is a clothing company for the African-American community. FUBU is an acronynm for “For Us By Us.” The analogy simply refers to an instance where the church is designed to cater to a particular genre or age group.