Monday, August 14, 2006

A Youth Exodus From Church -- What Are We Doing Wrong?

Dr. Frank Page, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention, is disturbed that many students are leaving the church once they graduate. Indeed, the Convention's Council on Family Life reports that some 88 percent of children from evangelical homes are leaving the church shortly after they graduate from high school.

But why?

I wonder if it is not for these three reasons...

48 Comments:

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Pastor Greg said...

I believe you are on track, Dr. Friedman. I would also like to add the following:

When faith is not alive and functioning at home, it won't be at church, either.

PARENTS who don't attend church but send their kids teach those kids that faith is something they'll grow out of.

MEN who don't attend church teach their boys that faith is a girly thing.

FAMILIES who don't have a Family Altar teach their kids that faith is a "part-time" activity (Sundays & Wednesdays - if you're really "into it"). This concept extends to the quiet times of parents (kids need to see that you have one), and to prayer - parents need to show their kids that God really does answer prayer - and then encourage the kids to pray and see for themselves.

Leaders (church) who miss this have an empty ministry - empty of folks who carry on their faith beyond graduation.

 
At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Friedeman,

Reading that 88% of children are leaving the church after high school may be the best news I've ever read on the AFA site. It restores my faith in young people's ability to make rational decisions and walk away from the superstitious nonsense they have been taught.

Richard Rush

 
At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so simple I am surprised you missed this one,
Matt. Its because the Southern Baptist insist on
bringing politics into the church.

Pow!!!!Bingo!!! simple!!!

If the Southern Baptist would stop trying to force
Amendments, Laws and their own hand picked Candidates
into the Congress etc, the Youth would return.

I realize this is hard for the Republicans to
understand, but many many many christians are totally
turned off by the Politics that groups like the Family
Rights Organizations and the Fundamentalist churches
involve themselves in.


M.S.

 
At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt,

I am also deeply concerned about this very subject. Have you read Nancy Pearcey's Total Truth? I am convinced that she is onto something significant, and highly recommend the book to you.

--Enrique

 
At 7:16 PM, Blogger Matt Friedeman said...

Enrique:

I have read Total Truth. She is on to some powerful things but I think there are other dynamics at work as well. Orthodoxy plus Christlike action is the formula.

Matt

 
At 7:19 PM, Blogger Matt Friedeman said...

Greg:

You got the family thing absolutely right. If you miss spirituality and faith in Christ at home, you have usually missed it altogether.

Matt

 
At 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt,
You speak against lockins and the like. I wonder what are some models that you see working. Someone mentioned the family altar, can you elaborate somewhat on what that looks like and what you mean by that term? I believe that the most significant decision that a teenager can make is to follow Jesus Christ with all of his life and heart. I came to Christ at a very young age and then walked away from him in college. Now that I have a teenager, and want him to know the truth, I can honestly say that I have walked on both sides of the fence and there is no comparison. Drugs, sex, materialism, and whatever other experiment that I set my mind to, never filled the void that I felt in my heart. There is such a great joy in knowing Christ that makes all of these other things pale in comparison. I would like some examples of how you are engaging the teens in your life with the truth of discipleship and what are the significant issues that you are addressing with them. I apprecaite your candor and look forward to your reply. God bless you!

 
At 9:13 PM, Blogger The Spiritual Revolution said...

What about the men that attend the church and their children leave the after graduation, they are not being the head over their households. First they need to take charge over the home. Then led by example to the children. Quit advocating in the home, start having devotions,PRAYER. The head over the home need to stand up for GOD.
Joshua 24:15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
The Men of the homes need to make the stand for God an serve Him.

From: The Revolutionist His Bondservant Forever In Christ Jesus \0/

 
At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Craig said...

Interesting perspective and unfortunately, to me somewhat not surprising.

I think too often the 'new age' churches are focusing on membership instead of discipleship, programming and not the word of God. Jesus doesn't need a rock band or a pizza party or a 'program'. The word of God needs to be preached with truth and power. No tickling of ears or sermons crafted to not make anyone upset.

People leave when they don't feel and see the power of God. Those that leave wil come back when they find the empty place in their life when nothing can satify but a relationship with Christ and not an empty religion.

 
At 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AMEN AMEN Brother! Although I have never been blessed with children one of the BIG BIG problems I have always seen with majority of evangelical churches is they will wait even years and years interview after interview -to find and hire the "best", most biblically grounded pastor who can preach the Word truthfully but THEN they don't feel that the words God gives him will be truly effective and inspired enough to reach the ears of even children! In the Bible we see Jesus preached to crowds that usually included men, women and children - proving He believed the same words and methods were meant for ALL God's people and not to be shared in any
watered down version.

This is why I will not join ANY church that has separate services for youth during "adult" service and try to tell every pastor who has bought into this concept that this can only be a tool of the devil to try and "divide" so he can weaken and conquer the churches AND our families. Ok, I do feel that there may need to be some separate space for pre-school children and have no problem if children are not absolutely quiet during a service. But even toddler these need to learn patience (isn't this a fruit of the Spirit?) and see true worship in action and not just get to
"play" in Sunday school that for the most parts only gives them brief brief time for worship and hearing God's word - again in watered down fashion. It amazes me that even youth who claim to be "saved" don't think they have to attend to hear the word given by the pastor, which I hear the excuse time and time again "should only be given to believers to help them mature". First, if you read you see faith comes by HEARING - so if they are not hearing no wonder they don't come to true faith. And next, if the kid IS a "believer" then shouldn't he be attending to hear the (best) Word and mature in knowledge of the Word and faith?

I grew up going to church and sitting in pews from before I can remember and THAT is how I learned the "discipline" of God and that you NEED to take time and be with the Lord and give Him your FULL attention on HIS Day - it's not our day, but HIS. Again, the Sermon of the Mount Jesus had all the people - men, women AND children - sit so they could hear Him preach. He didn't say send the children away, He said "let them come to Me". So our kids may "want" to be doing something else, but if we are not exampling what a good faith life and worship truly is, then we can't expect them to know what "church" and community life is and see the value in continuing to belong when they can make the decision for themself.

So AMEN AMEN, PREACH IT BROTHER! Our pastors and people need to hear and be rebuked of this cultural sin-behavior that has developed to meet "needs", instead of meeting the LORD'S will and worshiping as Jesus exampled - as the FAMILY of God together as ONE Body.

J.S
Wilmington, DE

 
At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen and amen!

It has long grieved my soul to see churches encourage the separation of families during worship. Kids must be with their parents in worship once they keep from being a serious distraction to others. To pull them off in "kidz zone" or a "youth service" sets up the notion that the church, rather than the parents, is the primary agent responsible for "bring up the child in the fear and admonition of the Lord" (not that many youth programs do this).

The SBC must repent of its push to split the family on Sunday. Age appropriate Bible study for small children, mixed age Bible study for older children and adults, family worship. What's so hard about that? Families worship together and parents teach their kids. Sounds like a God idea.

S.L.B.

 
At 11:34 AM, Anonymous L.S. said...

Amen! Bravo! This is not just the Southern Baptists, this is, unfortunately, a lot of denominations in America today. Trying to be cool for the kids so they will come to church. Paul preached against this very thing, even for the adults.

We recently left a church where my husband was youth leader. Sunday evenings were spent reading the Word with the teenagers and they were responding to it -- but the pastor had other ideas and now that church has rock concerts as their main event and is all but void of teaching.

We have tried to find a church which does not have youth activities at all, but there are not any in our area. The Church is in a sad state.

 
At 12:29 PM, Anonymous James T Sparks said...

My three reasons. #1 We need to disciple. The first two year of a Christian faith is the most important. Teach them to pray, study the Word, to be faithful in the Walk. #2 Parents are needed to be reminded to train up their children. It is not the Pastor or school responsibility. #3 The Church need to act liked a Church. A lot of Churches look just liked the world. Get back to seeking God in Churches not people. james

 
At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christians have made Christianity embarrassing. Most active Christians are self-loathing (not in a Christ-first way) and cultish (crazy dogma like zionism).

 
At 2:54 PM, Blogger Thinking in Ohio said...

You make some good points here, Matt. However, I'm not certain "age segregated" services (what many comments rant against) are the cause of the mass exodus of youth from our church ranks. True, many are raised in youth groups, leave for college and never return to join the adults in the churches they were raised in, but are "youth ministries" at fault here? And is the answer to stick them in the adult worship service that they choose not to return to during and after college? Somehow I doubt it.

If your critique is the manner inwhich Evangelical churches cater to and aim to please *read entertain* youth today (as I believe it is), the same can be said of the other age groups in the church. We didn't just pay a southern gospel group 400 dollars to sing in our church because it "blessed His heart"... no, it was purely to entertain our boomers and seniors.

Regardless, moving teens back to that sort of service is only going to drive them away faster.

Having said that, I thought your points were excellent; and I agree with your summary. The whole church needs reformed, though, not just youth ministry programs.

 
At 5:06 PM, Anonymous Bob Kincaid said...

You missed the primary reason. It has to do with honesty. Fundamentalist churches are fundamentally dishonest. You spend years trying to convince a child who with his own eyes can see otherwise that the world is five thousand years old and that Adam and Eve rode to Sunday School on a dinosaur's back. You try to fill childrens' heads with goofy notions like Eve's conversation with a gossipy water moccasin. You spend literally millions of dollars on bigotry against people you don't even know, trying to determine who may live with whom while this nation bleeds from wars you supported and goes begging for healthcare and a decent meal.

People freed from ignorance and lies will not often return willingly to it. You're apparently surprised by that.

Physician, heal thyself.

 
At 6:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People will flock to a church and commit their lives to that church community if they are truly saved and if they hear a gospel centered message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone by Christ alone plus nothing. It's not about what we do or don't do but about what Christ has done and continues to do. Churches must stop the unbiblical subtle message of salvation by our efforts and talk about and confess sin and proclaim salvation from sins' power by Christ's work - not ours. The church must become real again.

 
At 8:43 PM, Blogger Matt Friedeman said...

DougThinkinginOhio:

It may be age-segregation and entertainment are problems in the rest of the church, but 88 percent of the rest of the church isn't bolting when it gets the chance.

Heck if I know why it is happening. But it is, and our church model is built on the whole public schooling trainwreck of age-segregation that I think is so totally warped from the reality those kids eventually face.

Of course, rethinking it means we all move to a homeschool paradigm, which, of course, is how Jesus and most of the world in human history was trained for their lives in the world beyond Mom and Dad.

I would love to see more research done on this, and when it is I wouldn't be surprised at all to find out that home cells are the best habitat for young Christians to emerge and go on their great adventure for God well beyond their adolescent years.

Matt

 
At 5:45 PM, Blogger Pastor Terry said...

Dr. Friedman,

I do believe that you are on the right track. Thanks for the ammunition for me to build a better & more serious curriculum for the youth of my church.

Too much emphasis is being put on sports and other activities and church is being relegated to "left over" time.

I don't think Christians believe that there are eternal consquences for their activities and the activities of their children.

Please keep sounding the alarm.

 
At 10:16 PM, Anonymous candi said...

Mr. Friedman, Your comments are too broad. You can't blame fun activites or the church for the exodus of our youth from the church. I agree with everyone who says it has to begin at home. The parents are most influential in a child's life. And as a whole,we both know you can't compare the youth from 2000 years ago with today's youth. It would have to take a monumental shake up in today's society for the young people of America to make such a dramatic mental and spiritual shift. The only thing I can think of that big would be say... the Second Coming!

 
At 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Matt:

I was not entirely shocked that many children are leaving the church, but the numbers were alarming. As an outdoor event evangelist (fairs and festivals), and as one who constantly is ministering where I am, I talk with many youths. What I find glaringly obvious is a lack of fear of God, no zeal for the lost, and faiths shipwrecked because they weren't taught how to combat evolution and humanism.

This is magnified when many are from churches which teach eternal security as a given no matter what one does. If you don't think you can shipwreck your faith, you aren't holding fast and trying to avoid the rocky shore.

Dr. Frank Page should look at the doctrine these children are taught, I know I was given my Certificate of License from the SBC and was saved in a SBC, but now am concerned that so many become lukewarm and don't worry about it, because they are taught over and over that 1 time profession of faith sealed the deal.

When I am blessed to lead someone to Christ now, I am inclined to take them to 2 Peter Chapters 1 and 2. I first show them that they are to add to their faith to falling. That Greek word for fall in verse 10 is defined in Strongs (4217) as fail (of salvation). If these youth were taught that backsliding could forfeit salvation, maybe they would cling tighter to Jesus Christ and appreciate more what He did for them.

If parents believed their children could again be lost, maybe they would be more diligent in raising them also. This is why I also homeschool my children. I saw on your bio that you do as well, praise the Lord for the efforts to train them up. Jesus said that in the last days many would depart from the faith. That the love of many would wax cold, because iniquity would abound. Sin appears to be a huge problem among the professed, and not departing from the evil, must be because they obviously don't fear the Lord.

All to often the church preaches the goodness of God, but skips the severity for those who fall away, and don't bother to teach you must remain in His goodness (Romans 11). This has become so foreign to many that those who teach it (like me) are called either heretics, or accused of not understanding grace. If feel too many presume grace (see Presumption of Grace on my web for an article if you wish), and are fighting the wrong enemy (Who is the Enemy, also on the web in devotionals).

It seems that we all must buckle down and preach the full counsel of God, even if it offends and shakes things up. To do anything less would prove we don't really love the lost. We somehow think we can love people to heaven, without preaching repentance towards God and essential nature of holiness; and Satan is very happy for that. The Laodicean Church among us had better wake up and prepare because I suspect, based on scripture, we are all going to pay dearly for our lack of training up these youth. 2 Peter 2 promises us they are worse off now than if they had not believed at all. May God help us reach these youth again and through mighty weapons in God, unblind them from the grips of the god of this world, and help them to come to themselves are come humbly back to the Father, with a spirit of servanthood.

Thanks for pointing out the statistics and sending the alarm.

JJ

 
At 5:19 PM, Anonymous Craig said...

A year ago we moved and left a church that preached grace, grace and more grace. We now attend a church that preached the complete unadultrated bible. I feel more passion for my faith than in a long time because I feel challenged to live a more holy life. No tickling of ears, just straight up challenging word of God to make me live a life that's in line with the word of God. There must be a balance of grace and works. And the works must come out of out obedience to God and not out of religion.

Religion is useless. You must have a relationship with Christ.

In today's culture how can we witness to others if we don't have a discernable difference in our life? The statistics show Christians today don't live any different than non-christians...

 
At 1:55 PM, Blogger Matt Friedeman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Matt,
Thank you for your article concerning A Youth Exodus From the Church - I believe that you hit the nail on the head about what's going on. I am a youth pastor of 25+ years in the ministry, and I have recently come to the "frustration zone" of ministering to the group of kids that I am ministering to.
Here's my dilemna: I have a youth group of about 25 to 30 that seem to enjoy youth group, but when there is a call to commit to discipleship you have the rolling of the eyes, or the "I"ve got to work" excuse, or that it sounds really tough excuse. I'm equally frustrated with the adults at church that won't step-up to be mentors and disciplers of these kids. I have asked my pastor for the past year and a half for recommendations of adults that will work with youth, and he can't give me any, and even if I find one that's interested - their lifestyle disqualifies them from working with youth (I pray that didn't sound too judgemental).
What can I do? I've never run into a youth group like this before - I'm big on relationships, mentoring, discipleship, missions, evangelism, etc., but it's like the youth, even after a year and a half, keep an arms-length distance around me. It seems like I can't get close enough to minister to them where they are at.

Sorry about the dumping on you - I actually just wrote to thank you for the article.

RK
Student Ministries Pastor

 
At 2:38 PM, Blogger Matt Friedeman said...

RK

Keep pushing all the things you are pushing. And pray and fast and fast and pray.

Sometimes the soil is ready, sometimes it is not. Faithfulness requires to keep plowing.

A harvest is coming. You have the right sensibilities. Just stay close to God and keep doing what you are doing. It will break your way eventually.

Matt

 
At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Holly said...

I've read recent statistics (from a Christian research group) that cite the top spiritual 10 influences in a churched kid's life...the top three are: Mom, Dad, Grandparents. Church, church camp, and youth group are WAY down the list.

Sadly enough, even among those who are "lucky" enough to admire their mom's spirituality, something like (only) 20 percent actually have had spiritual conversations with her. Dad's numbers are even more bleak...8 percent comes to mind. (!?!)

The issue rests in the home.

 
At 2:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why youth are leaving the church?
What are we doing wrong?
Simply put, the answer to both is we have made a Mockery of Jesus and Jesus's teachings.
Instead of being the people that Jesus wanted us to be, we are 'Christian-like' people who conform and mold Church principles, teachings, and actions to what the world does.
If we were the people that Jesus wanted us to be, then we would concern ourselves with 3 things:
1. The Will of God above all else.
2. Helping others above ourselves.
3. Living a life that is pleasing to God and not a life of our pleasure.

The reason the youth leave the church is because on some levels the only difference between the church and the non-church world is church-goers don't sleep in on Sunday mornings.

We watch the same TV shows, read the same books, and live the same life as a non-Christian, and we give 45-minutes of our week to God and think this is pleasing and that we are doing a big and mighty sacrifice for God. That's BULL!

The church fights for school prayer and the right for the schools to teach bible classes, which is another wrong.
The Church should be teaching about the Bible. The church should have classes on the Bible on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, with Sunday being the day of gathering. The church shouldn't expect or even want the Schools to do it's job.
The church offices are open 7 to 3, maybe 8 to 4 and then close every day. No teaching takes place. Yet we wonder why no one in the church knows anything about the Bible.

Here's an idea: Start holding Bible study every night, for everyone. Teach them about the Real Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. Teach them about what REAL Christianity is. Teach them that Prayer/Praise/Christianity is active 24/7/365 and never ends. Teach them that the only time when we aren't ACTIVE Christians is when we sleep.
But above all, Teach them to be REAL Christians.

Shadrac1701

 
At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

I just read your article at crosswalk.com, "Youth Exodus from the Church: What are We Doing Wrong?" You are right on all three of your points 1) Churches give teens what they want instead of what they need. 2) Jesus' idea of discipleship started with spending time with an adult, first of all their father. And 3) We're cheating kids when we provide a church experience apart from a meaningful understanding of God's Word, lived out with evangelism and service.

Barna's numbers said 7 out of 10 young people were leaving the churches. Eighty-eight percent is definitely worse. Christian families need this wake-up call.

Frank Page's concern is justified, but in reading the other article by Jim Brown, it seems that Page is out of touch with a solution to the problem. He talks about kids from private Christian schools dropping out at the same rate as public school kids, and those who are in the public schools (but grounded in their faith) being salt and light. But his prayer is that more churches will offer private Christian schools. How will more Christian schools help keep young adults in church?

As a homeschool parent, you've obviously come to the same conclusion that many of us have reached -- whatever you want your kids to live out in terms of their faith has to be modeled for them in the home. Have you read Uniting Church and Home by Eric Wallace? It's a good read. Frank Page needs a copy.

The mistake most churches are making is assuming the spiritual responsibility for training children and youth, a responsibility which God clearly gave to parents. The church has a supportive role, providing a community of faith. Real revival starts in the home. It begins when the hearts of the fathers are turned back to the children, and the children's hearts to their fathers. Who are the 12% who will be staying in churches? Most of them probably had parents who consistently lived what they believe, not just on Sunday, and took the time to teach their children like Deuteronomy 6 commands.

D.S.
Lakeland, FL

 
At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say that the main reason that the kids leave the church after they leave home, and even while they are at home, is due to the lack of relevance to thier world.
They are tired of seeing the world, and their friends in such dysfunctional,occultic trapped, suicidal, depressed and lonely lifestyle. Then hear a message of hope in Christ, but don't see anyone mentoring them to wade into the issues of peoples' lives to bring the changes espoused.
They want to see and experience the Truth, and have real purpose in the Gospel. In short, they want to see Jesus, be Jesus in their world, and have Him make a difference.
But they want this via a mentor, someone who actually cares to know and hear what they think, and dream about, and then be available to assist them in seeing the destiny of their lives brought to pass in the hear and now.

They want the Living Holy Spirit to be alive and active, TODAY, and not in some old story of the Bible. They want to see and experience first hand the move of the Holy Spirit on their lives in Power and in Truth. Through the laying on of hands, in miracles, signs, and wonders.

Taking God to where the problems are, and not just sitting and talking about them in a four cornered building, called the church. They want to BE the CHURCH! We just need to be able to lead them into how that walks out in the world we live in.

If they are challenged to live a life of Destiny in Christ Jesus, then they will step into it, and we will see the world changed. We just need to lead them, as parents, and youth leaders, teachers, and friends.

 
At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A big part of the answer lies in what you & Page didn't do. You didn't ask college-aged people themselves why they've left.

Everyone's exchanging thoughts with other post-twentysomething Christians about the problem, but no one is asking them.

The answer is not that "we give students what they want," it's precisely the opposite. Churches have youth programs for High School students, and they have lots of activities for married couples. But many churches have little or no singles ministry, and even for those that do, the vast majority of the opportunities and messages a church offers are directed at married people and their younger kids.

College students are left out by our ministry choices, so we can't be surprised that they choose to leave us.

Once they have a family and kids - big surprise- a lot of them come back...because they're finally back in a demographic that the church is willing to serve.

 
At 2:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm all good stuff. But I can tell you without reservation that for me, the traditional evangelical church did pretty close to nothing for me. It was a place that was not "safe', where I was constantly told that I wasn't good enough(for the church or for God). The message given by the church IMHO is not a complete biblical message of Grace and Truth. After 32+ years of struggle and heartache and suffering, I found Grace and Truth in a Christ centered recovery group where I found that I could really come, "just as I am" and that the message the Billy Graham always preached was right. However, the traditional evangelical church(I attended several evengelical denominations) did not teach that, and the Sunday School series and Bible Studies I attended never came close to teaching me how to live out what Christ had put in me when I accepted Christ. Although my heart and soul were cleansed in the sight of God by the blood of Christ, I was still held captive by sinful habits and it was just not acceptable to mention them in a church setting or any venue the traditional church had. I was simply left to deal with it on my own which led to isolation, lonliness(sp) and a huge sense of aloneness and abandonment(by the church and by proxy, God). However, I didn't leave the church or Christ, because I was so desperate emotionally and spiritually and it didn't make sense. While, today's young men and women are for the most part, not desperate. They have been fed so much false self esteem thinking, that truth to them is the reality that they live in rather then the biblical realities that are really embedded in Truth. These realities are the grace of God, acceptance, repentance from behaviors that are sinfully self destructive and that actually harm others and finally serving others and seeing all of these walked out before them in the church congregation by men and women. This, is just simply not done in the traditional evangelical church today. So, young persons go somewhere else where something is more real. Thankfully, there is some movement in the direction I have spoken of... and, it's a good thing.... Grateful in Christ, Chris - rofaith@aol.com

 
At 3:22 PM, Anonymous Albert said...

Dr. Friedman,


That information needs to get out, and thank you so much for helping. at the end of the article you asked a question:

"Could it be that youth see right through it all? Could it be they know our faith is a farce?"

You hit a major part of it. I am 22 years old. i am on the forefront of this generation, having gone through the ups and the downs. now that i am on the True side, i believe i have some insight to offer, but i dont know it all. even if you, i speak to anyone reading now, dont agree with everything i say i still ask God that it would invoke serious thought and discussion; and He would use this to open your eyes, spiritually and physically, to this generation.

This generation is hurting. they are in pain, they are thirsty, hungry, tired, and restless. they are looking for something real. we all agree that the one thing they need is Jesus. where as i prefer not to argue over which denomenation has done what to my generation, we, as in everyone breathing, regardless of denomination, need to agree that my generation is hurting, and something needs to be done, no matter what our own cost. that is when it will change.

Love
they need love. they need real love. they can see right through people. they are an excellent judge on fake faith. you can have the flashy-ist service, most impressive music, and the biggest group. and they will find anything in your life that is not up to par, no matter how buried, and call you unreal. becuase misery loves company. but more so because they want something real. something excellent. if they cant find it here, which we claim is here, then the world is more than ready to give them something excellence. you can see it all the time in movies, music, games, and even in parties. these things are done with excellence.

Im passionate about this, and would love to listen and discuss with anyone who would care to, but i want to only write so much here.

the first step to getting anywhere with this generation is love. love them dearly, on Christ's terms, which means for a lot of teenagers it will be on the teens terms. even if it costs you a lot of time, money and energy. that will show them they are worth it. and that you might not be perfect, but you are real. and they, above all else, are looking for that. it might take a long time, a year, perhaps more, to get anything out of them, or see a change of behavior. but continue to serve them anyway. Jesus is worth it.

James T Sparks left an awesome post. those three points hit some great areas. disciple those kids/teens. love them, teach them. a good amount will be on their terms. that is fine. it might cost saturdays, or football sundays, but what is my life that this generation might know Jesus. my time is worth even one teen or kid.

please feel free to contact me if you are interested in talking about this, i love to listen. my email is rmbr2brthe@yahoo.com

i urge you to visit battlecry.com, a ministry devoted to this generation and to see it committed. also read the books that have been written by Ron Luce, heading up battlecry: Battlecry for a Generation and Revolution YM.

by the way, i do not call myself a christian, it is a term that has been watered down by so many fake people. i am a Christ-follower.

 
At 5:41 PM, Blogger the joe said...

I saw this article on Crosswalk.com, and as, as a youth pastor, was immediatly interested.

I agree with a lot of your points, I think a lot of them are valid, and many of my friends and I are questioning how traditional youth ministry has been done, and how to become more community oriented and how to involve parents and adults more in our youths lives.

However, I cannot help but be disapointed in your tone. You obviously have thought a lot about what youth ministries are doing wrong, but you do not give any ideas for what could be done right. You hint at things, and you mention what you are not happy, but your lack of insightful and helpful advice leaves me cold. In fact, (and I admit I only glanced at your site) all your blogs seem to be negative.

How about you start giving us some ideas? How about you say something like, "This really affected me when I was younger, and I would really like to encourage youth ministers to do the same", or "What I have done with people in my parish over the years is..." etc. Any hack can write negative comments about the church, or attack ministry from afar.

If you truly have better ideas, share them. If not, keep your negativity to yourself. You are not doing any good. You are just making yourself feel better by tearing others down.

 
At 8:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think it's a "lockin's and youth groups are bad" thing, it's a matter of how we change a lot of worship and life perspective after we start to become adults thing. Maybe this isn't true everywhere, I just know that when I was a kid in the 60's and 70's that I was excited about God and faith and as I became a young adult it was boring. I went from these really exciting "Bible stories" and upbeat worship songs and songs that touched my spirit to singing with adults who sounded like they were as glad to be there as dryer lint. I have heard sermons that I needed a dictionary to understand. Jesus excited all people because he talked to them all collectively on a basic level. He communicated to all like a good family movie does.(pardon the cheesy metaphor) Kind of a something for everyone that everyone can understand. Makes you think, touches your heart, and everybody from Grampa to little Betsy gets it. My wife and I try to show our kids and all younger people that being a Christian is a 24/7 thing. I knew a few adults as a kid that made a huge impact on me, the ones that never lost that child-like enthusiasm for God, the people that can be serious and fun and always real. Kids see through fake people better than adults. Real love includes loving those really "unloveable" people we see each day. The bums, drunks, mean, scummy, wierd, gross people that we all tend to shy away from. You gotta be Jesus to everyone because sometimes you're the only bit of Jesus some people will ever see. When we all reach that level is when younger people will quit sipping out and will stay because they want to. When we all remeber what it was like for us as teens and 20 somethings, we will keep our young adults in our churches.

 
At 7:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Matt,

As a youth worker and someone who trains youth ministers, I appreciate your concern for youth. We have some common concerns. For example, I am very concerned about those who are trying to be relevant to youth at the expense of spiritual depth. So I can agree that we should be concerned about "giving them what they need" and not let the inmates run the asylum. Specifically, I strongly lament the current popularity of the Emergent Church, which waters down the Gospel to nothing in order to reach people. I also believe we should make evangelism and discipleship central components to our ministry, offering youth opportunities to serve in real and meaningful ways. Also, I’ve been a proponent and practitioner of one-on-one mentoring as a means of spiritual growth for young people.

But when it comes to your critique of why we’re losing our young people, I have some disagreements. First and foremost, we are losing our youth because our culture at large has rejected the Gospel and truth of any kind. Our youth are bombarded every day with relativism and every enticement imaginable to try and keep them away from God. Our schools have so embraced secularism that anything that hints at faith in Christ in the schools is being wiped out as mercilessly as possible. To add to the problem, many of the parents of youth in our churches are divorced and/or have no consistent walk with God themselves. Out of love for youth and compassion for those who are thrown into this milieu, thousands of people are making sacrificial commitments to stand in the gap and serve in order to reach youth against all odds. They take jobs that barely allow them to pay bills (if that) and a job that will gain them no respect in the world of ministry. And how does the church respond to their heroic service? Instead of encouraging the only people who care enough to give their lives to this difficult and thankless ministry, we kick them around for not being able to do a good enough job.

Not that there’s nothing to criticize. There’s actually quite a lot. But the main point I want to make is that the church should first look at itself as a whole, not just youth workers or those methods used by them, when they are critiquing the effectiveness of youth ministry.

Perhaps your church is an exception, but I find it quite superficial when people critique what they understand as "youth ministry" (usually all churches are painted with the same brush) when there are no tangible means of showing that their churches really do believe that it’s all that important in the first place. Look no further than the youth budget. If only a small percentage is designated towards youth, then their priorities have been stated clearly. If they want a full-time youth minister and yet the salary is not enough for anyone who has a wife and kids (or may soon have a wife and kids) to even begin existing on, then the expectations for who they are hiring have been stated clearly. If all of the sharpest lay leaders are involved in ministries other than the youth ministry, the priorities are clear. If the person the church has chosen to be in charge of youth has no demonstrable history of evangelizing and discipling young people, no proven understanding of being able to handle the word of God, and no meaningful training on how to lead a youth ministry with a team of adults, then why should the church expect more than a decent crowd at pizza night? It’s not the youth minister’s fault. He or she may be doing the best they can with little or no training (not to mention encouragement!), and yet the ministry was ill-fated from the beginning.

The church mindset has been so short-sighted when it comes to the need for qualified youth workers who can actually do what everyone thinks they should do, that when someone actually begins to show some giftedness, people immediately begin encouraging them to move on to "real ministry" like being a pastor or associate pastor. Unfortunately, there aren’t many who don’t listen to these voices, especially when they begin to see that they can begin earning a better living for their families. So just when youth ministers start to get good at what they do, they’re gone and the raging needs of our youth are shoved to the side yet again. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen seminary students (those preparing for "real ministry") roll their eyes at the entire idea of youth ministry, writing it off as being nothing but shallow messages and nightmare lock-ins. I always wonder why, if they think everyone is doing such a bad job, they don’t step in to do it right and raise the standard for all of us. Is it that our youth are not that important or deep down do they realize just how difficult of a job it is in the first place. Either way, I would absolutely love to see more and more of our best and brightest go into youth ministry and make me look bad by taking the ministry to an entirely new level.

Something else the church has failed in regarding students leaving church after high school is college ministry. We want to bemoan the fact that they’re not going to church when they move to another city for college, but relatively few churches have enough of a kingdom mindset to seek out and invest in students who are only going to be around for a short time. If middle school or high school students start leaving, the parents will complain and the pastor has to deal with it – usually resulting in the chastising or firing of the youth minister. If local college students aren’t being reached, no one complains because they’re not their college students. Is it simply the fault of the youth ministry they are leaving or do the surrounding local churches near their college share some of the blame?

As far as segregation according to age goes, I definitely believe that all ages should worship together (relationships between generations can be built in other ways, too), but if youth are not being reached with activities that are age-oriented, we are, in fact, ignoring the real world in which they live. Do you actually know a lot of college students who want to hang out with high school students? Or high school students who voluntarily spend a lot of time with 6th graders? I’m really not sure what you mean when you say that age segregation is not a part of youth culture.

Your call to mentoring is great – youth ministries should strive towards providing opportunities for it. But that is no reason to blast "pizza night." Instead of blasting methods, why don’t we all get as many qualified people as possible to throw themselves headlong into this ministry? Release the sharpest lay leaders who would be good with youth and grant them the joy and purpose of being able to pour themselves into young souls!

The references to the way people in ancient cultures mentored young people is noteworthy, but the way you used it completely ignores the fact that youth culture as we now know it did not come about until the advent of mandatory education and the new "waiting phase" to become an adult. This had a multiplication effect when media and global businessmen combined to do everything they could to make a buck off of this group of people. Adult methodology was more possible when they pretty much went straight from childhood to adulthood and didn’t have MTV and iPods plugged in 24/7. Maybe this type of methodology can work to grow young people who have been in church a long time, but it will NOT work to bring in the many lost youth who are open to the Gospel, but whose parents are not.

When providing the initial contact with a lost youth, relevance is extremely important – from the content of our message to the activities offered. There is no reason that we should have to choose to either be relevant or be deep. After building relationships with lost youth and being able to effectively share the Gospel with them, we can provide discipleship groups and service opportunities that will seriously challenge their relationship with God. As someone with an academic background in missions, I find it odd that most everyone would consent to using different means to reach tribes in Africa, but virtually all attempts to be relevant to youth (a cross-cultural ministry) are determined to be shallow in a de facto reaction.

However, I will say this. If you get together a team of competent adults, delve into this incredibly important ministry, and are wildly successful using very traditional means, I will be the first to praise God. I wouldn’t be extremely surprised actually, because "love covers a multitude of sins," and young people will generally respond to those who are finding ways to show them love. They will respond to those who challenge them with the call to discipleship when it comes from a credible source.

And when it comes to hiring your next youth minister, have high standards and put the resources required into the ministry. The church will get out of it what we put into it.

D.P.

 
At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You quote a quote saying 88% of the youth are leaving the church after graduation, and then you go and blame the "contemporary" church. After 15 years of serving in a very traditional SBC church, which is all that can be found for miles, we left for a more modern SBC church, having to drive some distance. Ah yes, the good 'ole days of traditional church. It's all coming back to me now....the sound of the organ....(heard only during worship and funerals.....sorry, I might be wrong on this one, they all run together), the place where you don't have to worry about "political correctness," and it's still ok to have a smoke between sunday school and church and tell a good joke about another race. Heck, if it's really funny, we'll tell it from the pulpit. The place we're taught to love our enemies, but make sure you're wearing a suit and tie when you come in my church (and don't sit in my pew). The place where the hymnal is the only acceptable form of worship, but country music is what we listen to on the other 6 days of the week. And yes, the youth ministry....the place where we sit the youth in a circle, give them a part to read, maybe a corny skit, and take them bowling or skating once a month. If we're really spiritual, we might even force them to come to the youth choir. Now that's church, straight out of the KJV. It's worked so well for the past 60 years, it's gotta be this new stuff that's running our kids off. None of this "giving them what they want, give them what WE want. Maybe they'll turn out just like us. Besides, if it's not drudgery, it can't be of God. Thanks for setting the record straight, and thanks for the memories.

T.E.
Hope, Ark.

 
At 7:57 AM, Blogger Matt Friedeman said...

T.E.:

The church I planted is a contemporary church. Thank the Lord...

Matt

 
At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with the youth today and just people in general today in America is the me me me mentality. Kids and just people in general are doing whatever feels best to them and benefits them most. If it makes me happier to go boat riding or sleep in then that is what I will do. This church is more entertaining for me so that is where I will go. Being a Christian is not always about what makes you feel best! When you see our youth coming back to church after they get families started it is because they are being forced to grow up. Their attitude is changing now they want to do what is best for their children and not themselves. We have a very unique opportunity as parents to train our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). That is the key. The church should be a community of encouragement for the parents and kids and where those kids hear God's truth not some watered down message that takes away his or her responsibilty. God's Word does not return void! That is more powerful than any plan to entertain kids. God the spirit convicts and if we as parents and a church are doing our part those kids will know what that conviction is and what it means and how to respond.

 
At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is our chruch unusual? We have a huge youth crowd for Wednesday night service (food, games and a message), but about 60% miss on Sunday.

 
At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

dr. friedman,

I am a missionary that travels the west coast of florida for a student ministry. I see a lot of youth groups in action. If the youth leader would preach the word and let it stand on it's own, the trend would change. But today it's what they want by demographics and not the Word. Preach the Word. Then if the church/parents/youth leaders would live it out with passion the trend will continue to change. So few can say as Paul did in Phil. 3.17, Phil. 4.9 and 1 Cor. 4.16. Watch me, follow me and then do it.

 
At 4:59 PM, Anonymous alternate idea said...

I work at two high school summer camps where there are about 3 girls for every guy, but the young adult ratio later changes to about 3 boys for every girl. I've seen and heard this is similar at other places. What are we doing that's making Christian girls leave our ranks so quickly once they leave High School? I think the problem is a different one.
There are 2 female young adults that many in the Christian community would say have left the Christian ranks, they are Jessica Simpson and Jessica Alba. Simpson's turning point came in the midst of pursuing a career in Christian music, but once her God given assets started to mature, the Christian music business abandoned her. Basically her breasts became to big for the Christian community. From Fox News Biography “Her parents later confessed in music documentaries that Jessica’s reception in the Christian music world was a tepid one because of her voluptuous figure, and that she was deemed too sexy for the genre, especially while still in high school.” Alba's turning point came when she got tired of her male Christian friends telling her "you're causing me to stumble!" and she had a difficult time downplaying her beauty. From imdb.com "One of the reasons why I chose not to be a devout Christian is because a lot of people gave me a lot of grief for just being a woman and made me feel ashamed for having a body because it tempted men. I didn't understand what that meant because I was like, 'God created this...' That was a hard time in my life." God made her beautiful, but Christian's wanted her to deny that. Put her in a burka, a snowsuit or in anything else. No matter what you do to downplay it, she'll still be beautiful
The Christian community is confusing their girls. Girls see their mom's making themselves look better. Moms and Dads call their little girls pretty, princess, and precious. They buy them little outfits to make them look adorable. Female Christian role models are beautiful, (think Evie, Janice Archer, Amy Grant, Rebecca St. James) Take a look at your Christian CD collection or go to the closest Christian music store and look at the women on the covers. Look in Christian magazines, most all the women are beautiful. The August 2006 CCM magazine's cover article is "Wonder Women". Look at the women inside, they all could be models. My latest Family Bookstore ad is filled with beautiful women. There's a new movie out about Mother Theresa. They do a pretty good job at making her look good!
I find it interesting to read about the old testament women. Esther was "beautiful of face and form" (Esther 2:7) and she won a country wide beauty pagent in front of a king. I'd bet the king saw more than her face. The Bible says Rachel was lovely of face and form (Gen 29:17)., apparently someone saw her form also. I bet she was better looking than Jessica Simpson. Would the Christian culture have rejected Rachel also? Sarah was "very beautiful" (Gen 12:14). Eve was perfect. God created women beautiful “the sons of God found the daughters of man beautiful” (Gen 6:2) and I believe with a desire to be beautiful. Doesn't every wife want to hear her husband say that? God also created people to desire beauty. In God's old testament rules of war he said "... and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and have a desire for her and would take her as a wife... (Gen 21:11) So God endorses choosing a mate because of her beauty. Oh yeh, why are we embarassed to read Song of Solomon?
We confuse our young girls when we put Rebecca St. James and Ruth out there as role models but tell them looks aren't important to Christians. Why did Abraham choose Sarah, Rebekah was "very beautiful" (Gen 24:16), Why do Christian editors choose those photos. Why do Christian record labels choose those singers. Why do we choose those CD's in the record store. Don’t any ugly girls sing well?
This confusion about appearance pushed the Jessica's out and I believe is pushing out our other girls. Young Christian females want to be beautiful, but they're told they shouldn't be. We cover them up and tell them they can't be sexy, their attractiveness must come from within. I've seen Christian women bring Christian girls to tears over them looking too beautiful. In one instance the girl was a dead ringer for a young Tyra Banks. There wasn't anything she could do to be less beautiful, I bet she leaves her faith, even though she had a good up bringing.
Christian boys are told to deny or ignore or don't look at beautiful girls, even if the girls are Christians. Somehow they've gotten the idea it would be better to have their eyes pulled out. So there you have it, good Christian boys ignore the beauty of Christian girls. Christian girls want to be seen as beautiful, so they go somewhere else where someone will tell them they're beautiful. Sadly like Adam, the boys soon follow.

Eph 5:33 says men love your wife, and women respect your husband. Why does it differentiate and give separate commands? The bible recognizes that the girls desire is to be loved. Yet Christian education spends its time teaching good Christian boys to respect Christian girls? Yeh, everyone should love and respect each other, But if the Bible's correct in that girls desire to be loved and boys desire to be respected then shouldn't we be teaching girls to be lovable and boys to be respectable?
So what do boys find lovable in girls? and what do girls find respectable in boys? Shouldn't we be teaching that?

Lastly before you attack with that “lust” word, make sure you do some reading about how the bible uses that greek word for woman and lust in other instances. And for you married folks to think about; Do you think your courtship was lustful or was it just a really strong desire?

 
At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alternate Idea,
I am thinking a little about what you said but I do know that Paul said "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God." (1 Tim 2:9,10)

 
At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus taught in Mat 5:28,29:
"But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed ADULTERY with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."
The Lord taught lust in the heart is adultery. The Lord's apostles taught that those who die in the sin of adultery go to Hell (1 Cor. 6:9,10; Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 21:8; etc.). Therefore, if any person lusts in their heart and dies in that condition, they go to Hell.
Just because this is a wicked and adulterous generation, you assume that all people are filled with lust in their hearts. Yet all those who are will be thrown into hell. All those that enter the Kingdom of God will be free from this sin, as well as others cited in Rev. 21:8. One must repent of this adultery and be pure in heart to see God (Mt.5:8). Whom the Son sets free is free indeed (Jn. 8:36).
Temptation in itself is not a sin. Jesus was tempted, yet Jesus never sinned. Therefore, temptation is not a sin. It only becomes a sin when you yield to it.
To disregard the way you dress might possibly be stumbling another into adultery!Read what Jesus said in Matt. 18:6 about stumbling another into sin and marvel at this!
To get victory over lust, you should START spending more time in the Bible meditating on and memorizing certain verses! Hiding God's word in your heart will stop those mental temptations. The unnamed writer of Ps. 119 both prayed and hid God's word in his heart so he would not sin against God: "Do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you" (Ps. 119:10,11). We all need to humbly follow this example.
Your voluntary thoughts, that is, the thoughts you choose to ponder when free to think about anything you want, are extremely important. Relevantly, Rom. 8:5 says, "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. "The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (Gal. 6:8).
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry" (Col. 3:5). It's our responsibility coupled with the power of God (Rom. 8:13) that gives us the victory over lust.

 
At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Friedman,

A Youth Exodus From Church -- What Are We Doing Wrong?

1. I am quite sure I can go downtown this evening and climb into dumpster after dumpster and usually find items which have some value. Of course 95% of what is in the dumpster is basically dirty, rotten and smelly garbage. As Christian adults we have become gradually so insensitive to what is being shown before us during movies, that our children have no guide as to what is sin and what is not. They are instructed at home and in the church as to what is right and wrong according to our evangelical beliefs. However, we as adults actively participate on a very regular basis consuming movies night after night, which are full of outrageous sinful conduct which Jesus never meant for us to consume. What we have taught them is wrong according to our beliefs, they then see us regularly consume through movies. No wonder as youth they become confused. It confuses me and I have been a Christian for 36 years. Movies are a glossy scourge on our youth, endorsed by our adults.

Note: Other than watching the Passion of Christ at home, we haven't watched movies for over 15 years now, and should have quit sooner.

2. First, I am 100% for the actions of the AFA addressing their, "Taking Christ out of Christmas" and Ford Boycott campaigns, etc.

AFA addresses these types of matters regularly. However, our Christian leaders have no problem taking advertising funds from Ford or from those who take Christ out of Christmas in our leading Christian magazines.

Our children aren't stupid and recognize this is again hypocritical. Thus the youth exodus.

When we say one thing, but then act in another way it doesn't take much brights to see the reason they have left the church. They no longer trust us. Now, most youth won't tell us this because they know where their bread is buttered. They have also learned to tell us what we want to hear to please us and then gain their temporary reward. But are we causing them to lose their permanent reward?

I appreciate your time and consideration and look forward to your thoughts.

Vic DeLay

 
At 3:21 PM, Anonymous alternate idea said...

I'll first address lust and then address modesty in response to my first
posting.

I believe the verse "whoever has looked at a woman lustfully..." has been
misconstrued to wield to wide a path. The greek word for woman (gune) is
translated about 40% of the time to the word wife/wives. So couldn't it
also be read "whoever has looked at a wife lustfully...". That's "a wife"
not "your wife". I think we already make a jump in logic that this doesn't
pertain to just women but to people. So can we also take this jump in
logic? Married people shouldn't be looking elsewhere or pursuing or being
coveted, but within the confines of marriage they can look, desire, lust,
etc. If we truly believe that looking at any unmarried person lustfully is
sin, then every blessed marriage that I know of started in lust, including
many in the old testament. (Remember all those O.T. guys who chose their
wives because they were beautiful of face and form?) Most every unmarried
relationship is a "dance" where one is desiring and pursuing more than the
other. It has emotional ups and downs. Some work out, some don't. Most
all the courtships that ended in marriage went through this. So shouldn't
the unwed be permitted to look, pursue, desire, and lust for other unwed.
It was healthy in the old testament, Is it sinful nature to pursue
marriage in the new?

If I'm incorrect, then I need someone to explain the difference
between loving, looking, seeking, lusting, wanting, longing, wishing,
desiring, and pursuing because the greek word epithumeo is translated into
some of those words. Righteous men lusted (epithumia, Mt 13:17. Paul
lusted (epithumia, Phil 1:23), 1Thes2:17. Jesus lusted (epithumeo, Lk
22:15). Isn't it the lusting for wrong things that's the problem?
Oh yes, and if the person explaining the difference in these words
is married, I have some personal/practical questions about how they and
their spouse ever got together without desire, pursuing, longing, looking,
and wishing being a part of their dating or courtship. Here's the first
question on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad did you want to spend time with
your future fiance during the week before the wedding? Number 2, how bad
did you want to have sex with your fiance? Couldn't wait? I hope so.
Didn't wait? I hope not! Number 3, before proposing how bad did you want
to spend time with your fiance? At what number does it become lust? Is a
score of 9 passion or lust? Is 10, love? If you want something really
really bad, is that ok? For your marriage's sake, I hope you wanted to be
married really really bad. I hope you stayed awake nights with
nervousness. I hope you wrote your fiance lots of gushy letters. I hope
you dreamed of the day... I hope every fiber of your being wanted to spend
the rest of your life with your spouse, though rich or poor, or in
sickness or health... I hope you lusted for your fiance. It sure sounds
like Solomon did.

Now for modesty. 1Tim 2:8-9 is the only place in the Bible where
modesty is used. Verse 8 reads "Therefore I want the men in every place to
pray, lifting up holy hands..." So does this mean I have to walk
everywhere praying with my hands up?" or is this direction for when in a
church service? Verse 9 reads "Likewise, I want women (wives?) to adorn
themselves with proper clothing" (What's proper we ask?) "with modesty and
discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments"
Is this direction for when in a church service also? The verses that
follow all have to do with in a church service. No women in authority, all
women submissive, all women remain quiet. Hey here's another thought,
maybe this whole passage was just meant for another place in time? At
least that's the way it appears today in most churches. (That' a whole
nother discussion that I'm not sure what I believe is right! Back to
modesty)

Seen any braided hair, gold, pearls or costly garments on
Christian women lately? How about in church? How 'bout on the Christian
channel? We need a more clear definition of modesty. When a guy wears
modest clothes we're talking "not expensive". Why is it different for
girls clothes? Doesn't modesty have more to do with humility and status?
Which do you find more modest, a Kenyan woman who owns one pair of sandals
or a woman who owns 30 pair of shoes? (Even if you can see the Kenyan
womans ankle?) How about a $3000 diamond engagement ring or a $50 ring? A
modest home? A modest truck? A modest pay check? A modest cabin? Do you
think God has a problem with a woman worshiping in a $1000 suit? Do you
think he has a problem with a Kenyan woman worshiping without a shirt?
What about a prostitute attending church for the first time wearing
something that would turn heads? Is God concerned about the clothes she's
wearing or that $1000 suit? I hope he's exstatic that she's searching in
church!Does it make sense that Timothy told women to be modest in church
because he new how competive they are and that 2000 years later, shopping
would be their national pastime? By the way guys, he tells us to be
without rath and dissention in the church. Those are our achilles heel!

Let's consider mankind's first set of clothes. Adam and Eve walked
around naked, that's how God planned it. If they would have never sinned,
then at some point there would have been a third person walking around
naked, then a fourth, fifth, etc. That's how God planned it, right? After
the fall, Adam and Eve made loinclothes because of embarassment. So
apparently after the fall Adam and Eve were fine with no shirts. Shortly
after, God made tunics (coats) from skins for them. Do you think God made
them to cover up the female and male breasts or did he make it to protect
them from the elements? (Maybe all guys should be wearing shirts on the
beach.)I doubt very much that Adam and Eve wore the tunics all day when
they were working. God gave them an example of what they could do with
leather and progressively Adam and Eve made clothes for a variety of
temperatures, comforts, and work occassions.

Here's a stretch, think about what the U.S would be like if women
being topless just like men was ok and commonplace. I bet it would kill
much of the advertising industry, strip clubs, a whole lotta bars, MTV,
Playboy, and much of the internet.
Hmmm, a better world! I bet the stigma of breastfeeding would also
disappear. Hmmm, healthier babies.
When I was younger I used to play with firecrackers, I also do
some gas welding/cutting and know about engines. There's very little
danger in gunpowder, gas, and fuel until you compress it. If you squeeze
it, confine it, compress it, hold it in, then watch out! Has our society
wound itself so tight that it explodes in so many unhealthy ways? Have we
repressed ourselves in so many areas making it easier to sensationalize,
glamorize, have unhealthy desires, and cause so many problems? Are we
telling people they are stumbling when they actually are not?
I wonder how much conflict Michaelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci,
Solomon, and other artists got from turning out some of their great works.
Did Solomon catch flack for writing his book? Did the managers of the
Cistine Chapel debate over whether Adam should be naked on their ceiling?
Would you want these works of art in your church? I don't think God would
care either way, as long as he got the glory. The ceiling, the statue of
David, and many others are beautiful, but I doubt could never be made
today. Do you remember a statue behind Ashcroft? I'd love the opportunity
to have a U.S.press conference in the Cistene Chape! Could any Christian
writer write something like the "Song of Solomon" today. I bet they'd be
booted out of the Church, or at least the record label or publishers
office (Remember Jessica?). Most every Christian college has an art
department and a figure drawing class. What! Our Christian colleges
endorse sitting around a room looking at a naked person! (I hope it
happens
in med schools too.) The one I attended took their students off campus for
this class. What kind of message does that send? Apparently it's ok to do
some things off Christian property that you can't do on the property. I
wonder if God has a problem with endorsing that attitude?

If you're not too embarassed, talk to some of your missionary
friends about this. In most third world countries being topless is not an
issue. My parents just got back from Haiti where most of the school kids
ran naked because they couldn't afford to wear out their school clothes.
My parents said after the initial shock they got used to it. If you think
this is sinful, you can easily solve this sin by increasing your
Compassion donation, emptying your closet, or sending a check. Does God
have more of a problem with them running around naked or us guarding our
check book? (Think of all the sin we could conquer if we opened our
checkbooks!)When I talk to my missionary friends they care and are
embarassed way more about how fat our U.S. people are, than what people in
their mission wear. My Bible talks way more about obesity, living in
excess, gluttony, and treating your body as a temple.

This brings me back full circle to "what boys find lovely" from my
first post and maybe what we should be teaching our girls. Nutrion, humble
beauty tips, humility, and
exercise should be taught and modeled in the church. "and Jesus grew in
wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man". We've been ignoring parts of
that, especially as kids physically grow into adults. This world has
become too highly sexualized and our kids have to live in it. The church
has done a good job ignoring this area of their lives. If the church
learns to meet the identity issues of young adult girls as they develop
into sexual
beings, then I bet they'd stay in the church. Then if our young Eves stay
in the church, young Adams will stay in the church also. Then we'll get a
better opportunity to teach boys how to be respectful.

 
At 6:29 PM, Anonymous alternate idea said...

In case anyone is still reading, what can we do. I think their's a few things we can do.

Years ago, communities thought addressing the needs of their young Christian men and women was a priority. This became evident with the creation and support of YMCA's and YWCA's. Now many of those have lost their meening and changed their focus. Wouldn't it be nice to have something for our young men andn women Christian's today?

Most church ministry priorities are families ("focus on the ..."), missions, children, pro-life, youth, and seniors. Name para-church organizations that come to mind. Who are they meeting the needs of? Who do you send your money to? Isn't it strange that the Bible says the priority should be widows and orphans? (James 11:27) People who are alone. When do most people fall away from their Faith? When they're alone. Jesus sent his disciples out in two's. When do most people fall away from their Faith? After they leave the youth program. When they went looking for a mate. Where they went looking for a mate. When they went out on their own. The church and parents often rely on the probability of "raise up a child in the way..." to much, not only do we lose a few that way, but the scars on the survivors can be great. Didn't God, by taking Eve out of Adam, create a void that only Eve could fill? Don't all men have that same void, waiting to be filled? Isn't that a part of the human condition? Isn't it enmeshed in maslowes hierarchy? Is it "not good for man to be alone"? When will the church make those who are alone the priority?


Looking for ideas? Here's one! Local churches should pool their resources and create community wide singles groups. Most churches have a few singles in a variety of age groups. There should be active Christian singles groups in communities in the following age breakdowns. Late teens to mid-twenties (still finding themselves). Mid-twenties to forties (established in communities, possible future parents). Fifties and up. Looking at retirement. If churches want to provide opportunites for their single kids and single parishioners to have more people options to choose from, this should become a priority for every "community pastoral association". Why not practice some preventative medicine instead of just trying to clean up messes. James 1:27

Here's another idea. At Christian concerts (about the only time different denominations get together) designate a place for them to meet afterward.

Here's another at Christian concerts. Have different groups stand up who are in different life situations. This could be done under the 'guise of "Sometimes we feel like we're all alone in our situations, that no-one else is like us. Just to show your not, we're going to have a variety of groups stand up we'll pray for them and their groups needs" Examples of the groups could be high school students, those whose parents are divorced, married couples, engaged, singles, military personel, college commuters, college students on campus, pastors and youth workers, teachers, pastors wives, etc. This would help draw attention to everyones needs and it would give young adults and singles a chance to see others who they might form relationships with.

And lastly the one people will find scary. Maybe we should take an example from the bars, they've learned that Adams follow Eves. So the bars often have "no cover charge for ladies". So if the young adult girls stay in the church, young Adams will stay in the church also. Maybe we should be teaching our girls how to be lovely. Yes, lovely. Remember many of our Old Testament heroes were physically attracted to their bride at first. So nutrition and exercise should be taught and modeled in the church. "and Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man". We've been ignoring parts of that, especially as kids physically grow into adults. If the church meets the identity issues of young adult girls as they develop into sexual beings, then I bet they'd stay in the church.

 
At 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your article on the 3 reasons and I tend to agree with you for the most part.
I'm offering a 4th reason that is probably more inline with your closing questions. I think they do see through it all and have become dismayed at the negative hateful things being broadcast in media via "tv church", news and grassroots organizations.
The overwhelming message coming across is hateful, negative and damaging to the foundation of religion. A foundation (Jesus' teachings) that is a message of love and acceptance of all people no matter what their sin.
It's not difficult to see the hate filled sermons on tv, they've even been in the news media as hateful.
The only way the youth, and for the matter everyone else, is going to accpet that religion is a good thing is to change the tone of the message and go back to the roots of Jesus' teachings.
Love and acceptance! Jesus' did not discriminate, so why should we?
Edwin

 

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