(Part 1 is here)
As Barna notes,
The problem of young adults dropping out of church life is particularly urgent because most churches work best for ‘traditional’ young adults – those whose life journeys and life questions are normal and conventional. But most young adults no longer follow the typical path of leaving home, getting an education, finding a job, getting married and having kids—all before the age of 30. These life events are being delayed, reordered, and sometimes pushed completely off the radar among today’s young adults.
Other churches seem to be taking the opposite corrective action by using all means possible to make their congregation appeal to teens and young adults. However, putting the focus squarely on youth and young adults causes the church to exclude older believers and “builds the church on the preferences of young people and not on the pursuit of God,”
Between these extremes, are ways in which the various concerns being raised by young Christians (including church dropouts) could lead to revitalized ministry and deeper connections in families. Many churches approach generations in a hierarchical, top-down manner, rather than deploying a true team of believers of all ages. “Cultivating intergenerational relationships is one of the most important ways in which effective faith communities are developing flourishing faith in both young and old. In many churches, this means changing the metaphor from simply passing the baton to the next generation to a more functional, biblical picture of a body – that is, the entire community of faith, across the entire lifespan, working together to fulfill God’s purposes.”
There are 3 phenomenon exacerbating the problem:
"Reading a lot is not a part of my learning style."
She went on to inform me that students today learned more by "watching videos, listening to music, and talking to one another." She spoke of the great growth she experienced in youth group (where she no doubt spent a lot of time watching videos, listening to music, and talking with people), but her ignorance of the Bible clearly betrayed the fact that the Christian formation she experienced in her faith community afforded her little to no training in the actual reading of Scripture.
Young American born-again believers are moving away from a biblically-centered worldview, with only one in three affirming that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, according to Steve Cable, senior vice president of Probe Ministries. "We need to admit that there's a problem," Cable says. "Don't go around with your blinders thinking that everything is fine. We have a lot of people that aren't born again, so there's a lot of work to do. But then you look at the born-agains and see that we have even more work to do."
So - How then can we practically help prepare our children and grandchildren for times of doubt?
(Continued in Part 3 here)