Why The Church Is Losing My Generation Pt.1

Being a young adult is difficult in this day and age. If it isn’t difficult enough going through one of the largest sociological changes in the way we think, relate and create, and we have to cope with the fact that we will never make as much money as Snooki or The Situation. With the driving forces of social media, financial crisis and other contributing factors we are experiencing one of the greatest transitions in history and this has hit the Church very hard.

More than 80% of young adult Christians who attended Church during High School at least bi-monthly have stopped altogether (Christian Post). Numbers show that while this is a normal cultural trend that people tend not to go back to Church until they have families or get married, even this number is dropping off significantly.
I, myself have been part of this group. Part of this is because I am highly introverted, and, after spending time each week with the relationships with my job, relaying back and forth with people in the non-profit that I am blessed to be apart of and doing my best to maintain and grow the relationships I am in, I have very little social energy left in me. Another reason is, is the fact that I am a “recovering Christian”. I have found myself bouncing around from Church to Church on and off for years. While I believe that the Church has far more good than bad in it, there is some of that bad taste in my mouth. I believe there are four reasons why people are leaving the Church these days: Relational driving forces, Substance problems, Apathy and Anger/Cynicism.

On top of all of these reasons, my generation has a growing disgust with Religious institution and because of this it is not developing any identity in any Religious system (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc….). This is why, in my opinion, there has been a radical shift to a “not religious but spiritual” mindset in my generation.

As well, there has been a radical shift in the mindset of the God we are in relationship with. Christian Smith did the Church a great favor when he found that my generation believes that God is “Moralistic, Therapeutic, Deism”. Albert Mohler explains what this really means: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these
“1. “A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.” 2. “God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.” 3. “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.” 4. “God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.” 5. “Good people go to heaven when they die.” Many of these views don’t make God very interactive and do not cooperate with much of Church History.

With all of this happening, its not hard to see why the Church is losing my generation. We either give up on faith all together, we stay a Christian but aren’t a part of any form of community, or we are amongst a very rare few who are happily engaged.

Are you currently participating in a Church? Why?
Are you a Christian who doesn’t go to Church? Why?
Are you an outside to Christianity and gave up on the Church or faith because of the Church? Why?

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58 thoughts on “Why The Church Is Losing My Generation Pt.1

  1. My relationship with God is every bit as strong and that has all happened beyond the umbrella of church. I found that I could only have the relationship that is truth with the Living Word. For me, as there are many more volumes that God could write concerning His Will, I reside in one of those volumes. The implications of all that sin represents I have had to leave behind. The New Creation doesn’t hold it. The regard of sinful while being the New Creation is like the new wine in old wineskins…and I have let go of trying to justify that old wineskin just because I can find the words in the Book.
    My full purpose is to continue arriving to the New Ground of Love. To do that I have had to let go of the old shore. I see the institutional church now is the promoting of a lifestyle that has definite limitations when it comes to reaching all people. I now hear people harping on the point of ‘all have fallen short of the Glory of God’ and think to myself that it is rather accusing the wine glass of not being the wine. It just doesn’t hold any validity to me. I give no further guilt to that thought. He brings about with me what He purposes for me, and that apart of what everyone else thinks THAT is. And regardless of what those within those institutional walls think about it, I AM secure in Christ. He doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to caring for my life. That has given me much more than all the participation of all the years prior to experiencing this is precious…and real.

    • mfries05 says:

      Such great thoughts Patricia,
      What are some of the resources you have used outside of the church to connect to God.

      • Hi mfries05,

        It has mainly been God at the helm of that. It has been so that I recall states of blissful communion when I was very young. As I grew I would experience incredible states while on a lake with an air raft, while listening to music with headphones. Of course my Catholic upbringing really didn’t give me the thoughts that God would be anything other than that made the rules which would make me always guilty…and he wasn’t around so these other people had the inside line on what God expects. It really wasn’t what I really wanted and eventually left.
        I returned early eighties with the experience of being born again, with regular church attendance, bible studies, Sunday school, and an interest in eschatology. It only went so far to sustain me in a marriage that was totally failing.
        Anyways, He had begun to turn everything around just around the time that I had left a rather unhappy marriage. And the resources, well we see all manner of what goes on in the world, in arts, music, movies, events of all sorts. A great deal of healing has gone on. And the relationship is a living and ongoing one.

      • Mike Friesen says:

        Hey Patricia,
        You have such an amazing journey. I love how God took pain in your life and gave you hope again. My story is similar.

        What advice would you offer to my generation about the wear and tear and the daily struggles of Church and faith?

      • My only advice to anyone is to focus upon the Love God has created as you. Let Christ bring you through the process of forgiveness…and remember that this most definitely includes yourself forgiving yourself. I am not sure of everyone else’s experiences are.To receive the grace to recognize at every point you do the very best of what you are capable at the time (and that most often because of pain that sometimes doesn’t seem like very much)can free you to what He purposes. From what I have observed, it seems people either forget or refuse to forgive the one that Christ came to teach forgiveness to…ourselves. Let the child you are off the hook. Love is too good to hold a grudge and beating yourself up isn’t what He has in mind for you and me.
        Church is the one you are, not an organization. The organization can bring the Church together but will never supersede the true Church. For those who are outside the organization, He is still there and knows exactly why, and you can still be at peace with knowing that.
        I have often thought that ‘religion’ is what man makes of God and ‘spirituality’ is what God makes of man. I made room to let God reveal Who He is…and He has. The theologies, principles of various ‘faiths’ around are what they make of God. He will honor that but He doesn’t let that become an exclusive relationship, as much as some ‘churches’ would like to believe. There is no ‘cornering the market’ on God.
        The most important thing that I have been going through is returning to my first love. He knows what to do with that. We may have tried and failed or have had limited results. He knows how to take you there. I can only rejoice that this is so.

      • Mike Friesen says:

        If I can add a small though, because, I think you would agree with this. Religion falsely defines us through a false God, while spirituality defines us rightly in a true God. Thoughts on that?

        Also, how would you lead someone through the process of forgiveness?

      • Well, it is an ‘inside’ job. For me, God had led me through a framework of first journaling. Just reading this to my doctor who was counseling me at the time was very therapeutic. Once these wounds were out in to open to me, and when I was ready, Christ sorta guided me through being the most loving wise mom to myself, seeing myself as her most adored child. It was gentle, very modest with embarrassing issues, and held no threat of judgement or repercussion. It was all very healing. It took all issues out of the active avoidance system that we protectively build in our childhood, bring things out to recognize that everyone involved was doing the very best with what they had learned so far…even the hurtful things for most wounds come by people who are very wounded themselves, and most often don’t want to be reminded about what they had buried in their active avoidance bunker. Then it was just a matter of recognizing this about myself and others, giving forgiveness, recognizing ‘triggers’, refusing to go that route any longer. Then I was free of proceeding with what ever it was with love, or not choosing to go that way at all, and regardless, it was truly the right choice. Of course Christ was actively being the ‘role’ I described above and did so because that little child we are have very specific ideas of who they open to. As a more mature person you can recognize that about children…and you need to recognize that about the wounded child you are, hidden inside that adult that you look at in the mirror each morning.

      • “Religion falsely defines us through a false God, while spirituality defines us rightly in a true God. Thoughts on that?”

        Religion seems to take on the interpretations of those in charge of that following. It seems to square off the interpretations of the scripture in opposition to the Kingdom of God within. The whole thing stems forth from the one who communicates it. I will not doubt the sincerity with which it is undertaken but God more speaks with your heart, and creates a resonance by which you know. Religion is more form. Spirituality is more true substance.

  2. Brittany says:

    I enjoy attending church, and other small groups within the church. My favorite part about church is worship. I love looking at everyone while they are worshiping; pouring their hearts to God. To me, it is beautiful to see a group of people come together for one reason, worshiping God. Then to see everyone participating. I can’t get this feeling anywhere else than church.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I think it is important to gather with other believers on a regular basis, to be involved in a community of believers. I am a college student, so I attend one church while at school, and another during the summer. I don’t, however, think that this ‘community of believers’ has to be in a formal church setting. I much prefer Bible studies over listening to a preacher. Being a part of a group of believers is refreshing and gives me people to share my struggles with.

    • mfries05 says:

      I really appreciate your openness to more than one type of community Jennifer. What are the benefits of being in community with believers on a regular basis?

  4. Jason says:

    For me church has always been a subject, not spoken of and in the furthest reaches of my mind. There have a multitude of reasons and excuses for me never joining a church, all of which have changed in the course of my spiritual journey. In the years before identifying with Christians i can honestly say i wasn’t sure what i believed in. My upbringing had no learned importance on church, or god. In fact only in the last year have i talked to either of my parents about the subject. Family, like you said is a driving force in church in both childhood and adulthood, and since my family didn’t value spirituality or community in that way i never had the chance as a kid to be involved in a church.

    The second phase i saw myself go through was when i was about sixteen years old, i was a self titled atheist who had no intention of believing in any higher force. this was all a part of me finding myself, and my own connection with god. through this period i contentiously didn’t want to be in any type of church or group, i was strictly opposed to it.

    After a long time, and a long struggle i started to learn more about god and what he has to offer. i became a Christian all on my own, by myself i made the choice in my head. Although this was a huge breakthrough i was horribly scared to attend church. i felt like i wouldn’t fit in anywhere or be accepted for what i believe in. (except launch ministry)

    More recently, in the past year, i have wanted to attend church. I’m not as afraid anymore, and I’m understanding the value of community with people who have similar views as me. I have gotten involved in a worship group at my college and i am striving to find a church. A good friend, and mentor of mine is trying to bring my into the church he attends, and i have a genuine desire to come. it’s just so early in the morning!

  5. Bets says:

    I am a Christian young adult who very recently left my church. I was heavily involved, but noticed an insider-focused shift start to occur. I didn’t feel like my church was reaching people anymore. I felt like all they care about is money and membership – keeping people instead of reaching people. Throw in some HEAVILY judgmental statements I heard from leadership and family members of those in leadership… I chose to leave. It feels very much like a breakup. I’m hesitant to try another church just yet because I don’t want a “rebound” church, much like one avoids a rebound relationship.

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Bets,
      I love your insights and I am sorry for your pain. I experienced a similar with a Church that I went to for a long time. Letting go was so hard. Your thoughts on a rebound church seems very healthy and encouraging. Thank you. Tell me, what you would like to see in your next Church

      • Bets says:

        In my next church – I’d like to see a church that is very missional. One that is about reaching the hurting, the broken, the lost. One that’s not going to harp on and on about tithes/money/guilt. I want a church that goes beyond the building, beyond Sundays. The church I’m going to try has a BEAUTIFUL essay on why a church isn’t a church if its not missional. Do you have an email address I can send it to?

  6. Hey Mike! Very thought provoking blog. I have such a heart for this generation. I’ve come out of this exact senario: being a young adult newly married, wounded by “church”, stopped church and now we’re back because we have family. I love doing life with people and being able to grow together in faith. I think “church” can’t look the way Constantine envisioned. I’m very happy with my fellow Christ Follower friends who spur me on to love and good deeds. Sunday church is more for the kids. Right now our heart is to live missionally in the world and grab hands with anyone else who wants along for the ride. This is when I realize my need of fellow believers. Other than that, it does seem like just another scheduled item on the weekly list.

    • Mike Friesen says:

      I just love your thoughts hear. I think you are right, we have subscribed with a Constantinian view of Christianity and added doses of American Culture with it. It gives me hope that you have returned. I am interested in what you think Missional Christianity looks like within the Church but also what the Church can do for its community outside the Church.

      • Britney W. says:

        I just wanted to reaffirm what you both have touched on. I am moved and encouraged by fellow believers who speak of being a more engaged, missional boy of Christ. I long to reflect Christ through my loving actions. I’ve been reading “The Tangible Kingdom,” and Hugh Hatler and Matt Smay speak openly about being the living church not a indoctrined, Constantinian church that society sets up on a pedestal. It’s difficult being a Christ follower in a society that measures the Christian in politically and business based values. I heard Tim Keller speak last night, and he beautifully stated that seeking justice in a missional form welcomes more into the Living Church than the evangelical preaching that scares people away from the physical church crowd.

        I have only made it this far in your blog. I am excited about the thought provoking words you continue to write. Thanks for this.

  7. I have to admit that I agree with you.. although I am an avid churchgoer, I believe if the church does not wake up and make some major changes, they are going to lose our generation. We want a passion to consume our lives and a reason to do what we do. Simply doing something to “check it off a religious list” is not good enough anymore. And we are much more interested in social justice. The ideas of peace, justice, and love are very pervasive in our generation. I believe that church can happen anywhere. I do attend what most people would consider a church on the weekends..but its really just a building with Christians inside. I love the fellowship, but I gain more from the small group of women I meet with each week to discuss life, God and the Bible. I am looking forward to the continuation of this discussion as I believe it is one the church needs to seriously consider. I strongly believe a relationship with Jesus is key, but I also believe that we have muddied the waters and added in a whole bunch of really crap rules and stipulations that are irrelevant and pushing people away.

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Amanda, you sound like a passionate and inspiring voice for our generation. What has been the most life giving thing with Church for you? What perspective would you want to give to others who are look for a Church or are skeptical about joining one?

  8. samo4prez says:

    My wife and I haven’t been part of the “Church” in about 2 years, I have been on church staffs in the past, worked in the underground church in China, live in Romania and for the last 16 years have done humanitarian and mission work in Africa. As an Artist I have always had issue with “church” but let the petty issues go and focused on more important issues. After doing “community” around the world in different church settings we have decided to not take part in the American Church any more. We find our community in other believers all over the world and will be starting a home church in Austin, TX within the next year, that will be a community that invest, shares and lives life together on a weekly basis, rather than on a minuscule level.

    I own a fashion company as well as being an artist and have had such battles in the “church” community with our vision and how we do life. Instead of support, prayer and trusting we are using our gifts to invest in the Arts community and communities in need around the world through the Arts we get questioned, talked about etc etc. Thats ok with us, because it confirms we are where we are supposed to be. Just wish things were different. But when we worship a single leader (pastor) and worry more about emotional music (worship) and tithe for larger building with more media, better lighting, etc and our mission budget (that is a small % of the giving) goes to not investing and empowering local communities in third world countries but rather doing building projects, painting churches and just giving things and never question why our Churches are are based more on traditions than biblical authority and church models….i could go on.

    “When Christianity was born, it was the only religion on the planet that had no sacred objects, no sacred persons, and no sacred spaces. Although surrounded by Jewish synagogs and pagan temples, the early christians were the only religious people on earth who did not erect sacred buildings for worship. The christian faith was born in homes, out in courtyards, and long roadsides” Frank Viola

    These truths stand true for the 98 million Jesus followers in China alone, birthed out of persecution in homes, roadside and hidden locations. Just think of how we could really impact our communities if we moved into them? and actually lived in them.

    Anyways, we decided to hold to the truths of the word and live out the way Jesus did..so for two years we have been living on the road, finding community in those across the US, in the Art world, investing in communities in need and trying to inspire Hope wherever we are.

    “why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” Matthew 15:3

    ” We cannot avoid bringing our culture to church with us; it is part of our very being. But in the light of tradition we need to sort out those cultural influences that contribute to the integrity of Christian worship from those that detract from it” Frank Senn

    • Mike Friesen says:

      I just loved your thoughts here. Partly, because, I have reached some of my own conclusions. I am also sorry for some of the frustration that has been caused to you because of these communities who are not in agreement with your Artistic community.

      I think what you are doing is so valuable with your artistic community. God wants to repair all things. So Christians in the artistic community not only blesses us with your abilities, but, it blesses the world with your presence.

      What would you want to use from the Chinese church model as well to give back to the American Church model if you could?

      • samo4prez says:

        One of the greatest things about the Chinese church is how much they study the word, study pray, study pray..so much like the church in Acts..study, pray, sing, and teach..every one plays a part in teaching, leading, singing etc. There are leaders who oversea the churches etc but the communities lead themselves the way the early church did, of course western evangelicalism has begun to seep in and create an atmosphere of pastoral leadership rather than community leadership..we have a funny way of doing that. Lots of things I have learned in my 36 years and 16 years around the globe, a lot of my “Jesus-view and theology” has been turned upside down of many occasions…word!

      • Mike Friesen says:

        How would you turn upside down our church experiences and environment right now? Jesus did similar things.

  9. corey says:

    Mike,

    It’s going to be fun writing this blog series with you. I think that talking about why young adults are leaving church is such a necessary conversation and hopefully as we approach it from a bunch of different angles, we’ll spark some great discussion generate hope for the future of both young adults and the church.

    Personally, as a 32 year old, it is strange to me that so many of my friends have no interest in the church anymore. It isn’t that they’ve given up on God or their faith, but the way they have now chosen to practice their faith is so markedly different than it used to be. For some, it is apathy. For some, it’s needing to get away from the structures that have caused them pain. For others, I think they just don’t want to get connected with other believers and want to live their faith on their own.

    This is so different than my understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ. I don’t care whether people attend church services or official church functions, but attempting to live your faith by yourself is (in my opinion) destructive to yourself and to your fellow believers. Somehow, the life of a follower of Jesus has to include other people who are on the same journey.

    You can read my opening thoughts to our blog serieshere.

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Agreed Corey.
      I think everyone should go check out the series you are doing.

      What advice would you want to give to my generation about choosing a Church if they were interested and just skeptical?

      • corey says:

        That’s probably a blog post of its own 🙂

        Initially, I think for your generation (and our posts tomorrow will touch on this) since relationships are so important, it doesn’t make sense to attend a church where you are a nameless, faceless person and you don’t know any of the thousands of other people you worship with. Find someone you know, like, and trust and go to church with them.

        Second, I would say that it doesn’t matter much what the church is like (many caveats could go with that…but generally true I think). What matters more is the attitude you bring to it. You can become a part of a church that you disagree with as long as you have the attitude of serving and loving…which leads to my third thought…

        Get involved. Find something that some church does that you can be passionate about and jump in. That is the only way that ‘church’ can become truly meaningful to you.

  10. Thomas Hogan says:

    What a great post. Your view of the young adult issues with church is spot on. Let me simply state that I love church but often find myself questioning the “churchiness” of a building and committees and such.
    I’ve embraced the specific aspect of community within the larger framework. i don’t necessarily feel connected (on a personal level) to the structure or program itself, but the relationships and purposes I’m fully committed to.church as community you “do life” with is closer to what most of us post-modernist young adults have come to realize as a better New Testament model for us .

  11. Leya says:

    I attend church, actually I’m working at a church right now, which I’m still pretty surprised I agreed to do so, but that’s a different story. I choose to be engaged in a local church because I believe that God calls us to do life together. I’ve been experienced lots in a church setting, both good and bad, but I still haven’t found another place that I know that I can be held accountable and hold others accountable to love each other in and through Christ. (Of course this is a statement that needs to be unpacked, but that’s the general gist of why I am involved in a church community).

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Leya, would you mind unpacking that? Also, what advice do you offer people my age who are skeptical?

      • Leya says:

        Mike,
        I confess, my attachment to the church has much more personal than theological and Biblical roots. However, there is clearly scriptural encouragement to live in community… I mean look at Acts. That was life together. They encouraged one another, learned together, and had their conflicts. Personally, Christian community, specifically a church community, was the first place I actually came to understand what it meant to belong. Investing in something bigger than myself, in more than just my own spiritual journey, and allowing others to really come alongside me and for community members to allow me to walk alongside them changed my understand of who God is, and what the church should look and feel like. The experience of belonging in a community of Christ followers helped me realize what it could mean to belong in Christ.

        Unfortunately, this deep sense of belonging, of being cared for is hard to do and hard to accept. We all have our scars, and baggage. Some church communities can be judgmental, emotionally manipulative, hateful, and insensitive. You put enough people in pain and/or denial in one place, and that’s what can happen. I don’t think the potential of being hurt lets us off the hook of experiencing God in community.
        As young adults, we really need to sort out why we don’t want to go to church or why we don’t like that community. Do we feel unheard or invisible? Do we feel like there is space for us? Do we feel challenged? Do we feel cared for? Is there space for us to serve and be served? Once we start figuring out why on earth we are so resistant to go to church we need to start talking about it with people who listen and respond.

        A few years ago I found myself so cynical and skeptical that I had become resistant to almost all things Christian (I had a horrible experience with a church). Lent season was quickly approaching, and I thought it would be an interesting experiment to give up cynicism. Every Christian experience that came my way I tried to withhold my cynicism and simply take part. It was uncomfortable and difficult. Two months later I met a pastor who had read my blog about my experiment and invited me to be part of a church plant. That church plant happened to be the church community that I came to truly understand what belonging in Christ meant.

        Honestly, I still find that I’m pretty cynical. I’m quick to question the motives of a church, I’m always asking questions, and I probably push some pastors buttons. Yet, I am ridiculously hopeful. I’m hopeful that church communities can become places of honesty, accountability, love, and belonging to everyone willing to journey alongside each other.

        I’m not good at giving advice to a faceless crowd, so you got one of my stories about cynicism and the church. I hope it inspires some thought.

        (sorry for the long winded reply)

      • Mike Friesen says:

        Wow leya,
        Thank you for your vulnerability. Deep within your response is much advice and wisdom. And, it drives at the topic today. I hope you participate. You are very courageous for this.

  12. thanks for your thoughts Mike & inviting us to share. I am involved in a church body. And can I get this off my chest…when I talk about church, I’m referring to the people, not the building. We don’t “go” to church & I make a distinction for my girls (2 1/2 & 4). Another get off my chest thing is the word worship…it’s not delegated to a 10 minute window of songs on a Sunday morning, but a whole life walk. Yes, we do worship through song, but this is only a piece of the puzzle.

    Sounds like I could be trivial about what might seem small to some, but seeing my children & their role in God’s story, I want them to understand the importance of the words…the history…the richness of what makes the church the church and worship–worship. I am involved in church community because I see the need to be a person of change. I’m not an activist per se, but I don’t believe I can complain or make presumptions about what my church is doing (or not doing) and never take part in the conversation. If I don’t agree with how things are going within my community that resides on Larrabee Ave, then I need to be an agent of change within that and not become a seat warmer on Sundays.

    I’m pretty diplomatic, and an ENFJ at the core, so I might stir things up because I strongly believe in their goodness; however, I want to find common grounds as well, helping people discover who God created them to be. I want the body of Christ to be alive & vibrant & hopeful, because that’s who Jesus is. He stands for truth & hope. Sometimes unfortunately, church communities can to often lean on one side of the coin in this.

  13. Hey Mike! Missional church within the church? From my point of view, I see that as us taking care of each other. When someone has no food in the “church” we feed them, take care of their kids (list goes on). Outside the church? THAT is what excites me! There’s no limit or boundary to what can be done on the outside. For me? I’m a hip hop dancer and I use my classes as a way to be engaged in culture. My hip hop crew as only a few believers in it, the rest are on the journey. Love it. We do shows based on social justice, which is just what these young adults in my crew love. It’s crazy as the altruism is what attracts them. But in order for me to continue in this journey, I need my friends, my small group, my “church” to support and pray for me. I’m just glad I finally found a group of people who think like that. For me, that’s been the tough part: finding those who are done with “church” but don’t want to stop meeting in some fashion. People who want to pursue Christ, not just go for coffee and talk about their summer cabin 🙂

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Wow, so great. You mentioned the altruistic fashion in which draws others to your group and that’s what good Christians do, as Christ did that. What does pursuing Christ look like in community? Also, I am an INFP, so, how we process the world is very similar, I just need alone recharge. So, I don’t think we are that far apart from one another.

      • wow, you’re great at getting someone to think! haha. What does pursuing Christ look like in community? That’s my journey. I’m not sure. I’m exploring and learning in this area. It feels like unchartered territory. I fear that if we don’t have pursuing Christ as the focus, then we become no different than a bunch of friends hanging out. I’ve been reading Missional Renaissance by Reggie McNeal and it’s a great read on this. He talks a lot about this acts of service in community being the “how” to your question. As to what that’s looking like in my world always needs to be given more thought to being intentional about this.

      • Mike Friesen says:

        have you ever heard of Richard Rohr? He just wrote a brilliant book called Falling Upwards, that deals with the first two half’s of spirituality. He said the first half of the spiritual journey is seeking to answer the question the “Who am I?” questions. And, the second half is about doing what you are called to do. He brilliantly says “When you have the the Who Am I questions down, the, What Am I Supposed To Do questions seem to fall in place”. To me that’s brilliant.

        You mentioned the unchartered territory? The most common phrase in the bible is “Do not be afraid”. Which means God is always calling us into unchartered territory. How would you lead someone into that territory?

      • I’ve never heard of that author but I will look him up! How do I lead people into this unchartered territory? Courage (like you mentioned), trial (and error haha), “seeing” beyond past paradigms. suggestions?

  14. Kamille says:

    thanks for your thoughts Mike & inviting us to share. I am involved in a church body. And can I get this off my chest…when I talk about church, I’m referring to the people, not the building. We don’t “go” to church & I make a distinction for my girls (2 1/2 & 4). Another get off my chest thing is the word worship…it’s not delegated to a 10 minute window of songs on a Sunday morning, but a whole life walk. Yes, we do worship through song, but this is only a piece of the puzzle.

    Sounds like I could be trivial about what might seem small to some, but seeing my children & their role in God’s story, I want them to understand the importance of the words…the history…the richness of what makes the church the church and worship–worship. I am involved in church community because I see the need to be a person of change. I’m not an activist per se, but I don’t believe I can complain or make presumptions about what my church is doing (or not doing) and never take part in the conversation. If I don’t agree with how things are going within my community that resides on Larrabee Ave, then I need to be an agent of change within that and not become a seat warmer on Sundays.

    I’m pretty diplomatic, and an ENFJ at the core, so I might stir things up because I strongly believe in their goodness; however, I want to find common grounds as well, helping people discover who God created them to be. I want the body of Christ to be alive & vibrant & hopeful, because that’s who Jesus is. He stands for truth & hope. Sometimes unfortunately, church communities can to often lean on one side of the coin in this.

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Such great thoughts. Especially with your children and the importance of their story. How would you invite my generation to worship differently?

      • Kamille says:

        I feel like experience it HUGE. It’s a problem when people become complacent. I’m 31 and I felt the same exact things you feel prior to having my daughters. I think before having children it was easier to focus on the various negative aspects of church. I became a critic with a judgmental heart towards my church. And so I’m speaking only to believers when I say this, but sometimes it requires one to stop talking & to start listening. To find out the story of the person sitting across the way. Maybe that over 50 year old was once like me. Maybe they had spark & vision & life, but they’ve forgotten to dream.

        They need young adults and the young adults need them. I’m reminded that it’s never too late to dream big & hope for something more. What I love about college age people is their fire for life. Life hasn’t completely made them jaded. There are measures of immaturity yes (don’t we all), but grace given to the pure heart who fumbles speaks so loudly. What every generation needs is a multi-generational community (the babies, toddlers, elementary, adolescents, young adult, married w/o kids, married with kids, empty nesters, elderly), because it’s a picture of heaven. those are some of my thoughts…what do you think?

  15. I don’t really attend a church anymore, partially because having an infant doesn’t allow it and for me mostly because I’m uninterested. I am the church when I’m with my friends, and I’m feeling overchurched at this point. I appreciate the step back.

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Charlie, I think you are part of a growing crowd, and, I am partially in the same camp as you. I definitely appreciate you, your thoughts and what you can do for those outside the walls of the Church building.

      • Steve K. says:

        Having been out of church for about three years, I completely understand the need/desire to step back, take a break, detox, whatever you want to call it. It’s an important step that I think more and more people are giving themselves permission to do.

        For me, it was a season of advent (waiting) and a bit of a wilderness experience. I personally found a lot of hope and strength in how Kester Brewin talks about this in his book “Signs of Emergence.”

        I’m glad to be back into reconstructive mode, forming a new missional faith community (affiliated with the Disciples of Christ denomination). The openness to experimentation is really refreshing. When you guys are ready, I hope you’ll consider “church planting.” We need more guys like you who are willing to think outside the box and will form new communities of practice that provide space for the “spiritual but not religious” and the “religious nones” (not necessarily the same group, although there’s a lot of overlap).

        Great conversation here, BTW, Mike. Thanks for getting the party started!

  16. Jeff says:

    I stopped going to church because no one could make me go anymore. The answers I grew up with didn’t work for me when I started to think for myself and live on my own. To me the church is a wonderful place for people who are content with the answers that are given there. For them it is A+B=C and for me it’s A+B=? Not believing is not really an option for church goer, at some point you have to “just believe”, and I never found that point. I left, and I am better for it. Why? Because I’d much rather be an “unbeliever” who doesn’t believe than a “believer” who doesn’t believe.

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Thanks Jeff,
      Its one of the things I appreciate most about you and our friendship is your ability to process things and not have pat answers. For me, that’s at the heart of true Spirituality. I see deep rooted spirituality in you all the time, even though you don’t see it as God. You ask great questions. That’s the mark of a very wise person.

  17. Garrett Ellipsis says:

    I currently attend a church, and I’ve made some great connections there. The people are awesome, but when it comes to actually paying attention I find myself not really caring about what the message is.

    Part of the reason for this is similar to what you said in the beginning about being a “recovering Christian.” The reason the Church is losing our generation is because we are being spiritually abused by the beliefs of the past generations. My family is extremely judgmental and this has made me not want to be a Christian. I see Christianity as being guilt driven instead of being driven by love, like I have heard it’s supposed to be.

    I don’t think pushing any religion on future generations is a good idea. In the end, our attempt to “save” people sometimes end up hurting them more than it helps them. The Church is losing our generation because they are forgetting to practice the message they are preaching.

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Thanks Garrett,
      Its been a blessing for me to be a part of your life and I hope us both recovering together has eased some of our cynicism and anger.

      Ride the unicorn.

  18. emilie says:

    I am a christian who currently does not go to church. Like you Mike I am a very much introverted person, and have bounced from church to church hoping to find a fit.

    Growing up in an assembly of god church I found that I agreed with very little, if anything they preached. Everything was so cut and dry. We had an annual play titled” heavnes gates and hells flames.” We witnessed through this play no forgiveness. If you died after having been drinking you went to hell, but if you were on your way home from church you went to heaven.

    I found myself losing god more and more. It wasn’t until I removed myself from the church that I developed a relationship with jesus again, and found myself as a christian woman all over again.

  19. […] yesterday’s post here and Mike Friesen’s corresponding post, we opened up a discussion about young adults being generally absent from the church. In […]

  20. Fabian says:

    Miguelitooo, I’ve gone back and forth in my heart with this. Being 27, part of staff of a church, and seeing what fuels an institution at times has caused nausea. Fresh out of college, I desperately and foolishly envisioned “the perfect church” ready for me. Knowingly and disappointingly I never saw a perfect church. If I was not helping on staff at a church, I think there would be a season in my life where I would’ve left the church. Why? The heavy reality of church: works exactly like a business. No different than wal-mart, McDonald’s. We put up our signs, offer our “products” and do what we can to keep them coming back to us instead of the church down the street. It took me a few years to be ok with this. Another reality: for a church to function in the states, it has to work like a business, and it’s unfortunate that at times it has to work that way. I hate working with numbers in a church, but if one will survive, you have to. One last thing that was discouraging to me was seeing churches, even mine, willing to do “whatever it takes” to keep the church surviving. That was discouraging and frustrating. Did I feel like leaving at times? Yes. Did I begin to feel a disgust for churches all around? Yes. Was I bitter? Yes.

    Today, I’m still part of a church on staff. Why? Without a single doubt, hard to explain, and may sound like those bumper stickers I don’t like, but God told me to, for now. That’s it. I put myself through months and months of self-reflection, asking hard questions and seeking unbiased answers. I go to church because I realize it needs help, and I have a pulse for it now. In the past I went because I envisioned it to be something it wasn’t.

    As for my generation, I would say they need to cut churches a little slack. They will not find a “perfect” church. Some leaders are out-dated, professional and distant, too busy, fun-loving and no depth, etc. I’ve been scarred by church. Everyone around me has scars from churches. And if it’s equated to a relationship, does one stop dating all together with their interest because one relationship went bad? Does one stop being a daughter because the parents hurt her? Does one leave a deep friendship over a joke that hit the wrong nerve? I disagree with the activity of taking a single incident with a church and turning around to use it as a universal pass against attending all churches. By then it isn’t a “church” problem anymore, it’s a forgiveness issue.

    Anyway, I could go on and on, but these are just some thoughts about my personal experience. If I was to give a persuasive response, it’d be structured differently. You’re the man miguelito, keep exposing your thoughts/heart. Our generation needs it.

  21. Timaaaay says:

    So many good answers here, I feel like I just might be repeating what everyone has already said. For me I have a difficult time comparing the early church in Acts to what the church is today. It really has become about a building and a specific day of the week. Whenever I read Acts I am challenged and wonder what it would look like if a body of believers sold everything they had and gave it to “the church” and did life together. We’re so caught up in individual materialism. America has made us believe that we have to succeed and do it on our own and that has definitely effected the church and believers. But I think as a whole we have lost Christ’s vision for the church.

    I continue to go to church because I found one that is actively being the body of Christ. They exist to serve and change lives through the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit. At one point in my life I felt the same way that a lot of people do and I was ready to just give up on the church in America, I wanted to go live in another country because I was so sick of what the church has become and didn’t see any hope in it. I remember a conversation I had with Mike quite a few years ago and he was in that same place but eventually he realized that it was reason enough to stay and help make the change. Gandhi has a pretty sweet quote: “be the change you want to see in the world.” I think he got it right.

    Instead of giving up on the church, continue to believe in the Hope that God will still use the church because that is the only hope for the world. We were created to be social beings and I firmly believe that Christianity is impossible without fellowship. Yeah there are a lot of churches out there who have screwed things up and forgotten what the gospel is, but there are churches out there that I think are headed in the right direction. God has not left us, don’t give up hope.

  22. elizabeth2286 says:

    I think it depends on how you define what church means, I think of it as a place of worship and community. A place for growth as well. I live in a small town of 60,000 people and tons of churches but I haven’t found a church I liked yet because of the lack of my native language and culture. The churches in the town don’t have much of a greater understanding of how to apply scripture within our culture so I have to do the work which is great because we should be studying scripture both on our time and and as a church.

    I also have a roommate who is from China who deals with issues back home where they don’t understand what real love is according to her. I can’t say if that’s true or not unless I interact with people there myself but witnessing and interacting with my roommate, it’s defiantly a difficult emotion to work with, it’s not something that can be taught or tangled with. It’s something that has to be bought together and learned through a community.

    I think I’ve learned more through close friends in my years of being in college. I’ve bounced around from church to church over the years but have found amazing friends who have taught me a lot about God. So church isin’t something that I’ve learned about God through a place of worship but through a community by bible studies, being surrounded by Christian friends, worship team, etc. It’s just a matter of knowing how you see yourself as a disciple of Christ and how you’re willing to grow in a community and a church is just a place to help. I would like to have a church to help me grow but because there’s not very many with only two percent of deaf Christ followers, I have to question what it all means anyway and what’s lacking.

  23. […] part one and part two here as well as in part one and two of Mike’s blog, we have been talking about the problem of young adults leaving the […]

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