David Kinnaman co-authored UNchristian with Gabe Lyons in 2007, which presented groundbreaking research from the Barna Group on what a new generation of young people outside the church ages 16-29 really thinks about Christianity. Kinnaman then wrote You Lost Me in 2011, which presented further research on why young Christians are leaving Church…and rethinking faith. I recommend both books to parents, clergy, teachers, coaches and anyone interested in connecting with the next generation.
I read about a trend that high school and college students are in some cases wiser than their parents. In some youth groups, many kids go to church without their parents. They decided not to wait for their parents to model faith filled lives, so they spend their Sunday mornings engaging God through Scripture and liturgy while their parents sleep in, relax, and read the morning paper.
These young people are determined to live life well and find real answers to their questions and concerns. They hunger for the strength and love of God to face issues of complexity and discover solutions, even as they enjoy the friendship and prayer support of other Christians in school.
One college student told me he used to go to church with his mom but the pastor had a low view of Scripture and rarely preached the teachings of Jesus that required anything of those in the seats. Then a friend invited him to a church that presented the teachings of Scripture in a way that honored a holy God, called them to be ardent followers and practitioners of “the faith handed down,” and to make a difference in their community. The young man and his mom go Sunday mornings, some Sunday nights, and joined a small group. He said, “I am learning so much of what Jesus actually taught, how His Spirit empowers us, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. I use what I learn in church in just about every part of my life, and every decision I make. Staying away from drugs, drinking, video games without stop, not cheating on tests, how to love my roommates and forgive them. Wow. It’s pretty cool to be in church.”
Social commentators, news anchors, and cultural elites across the country are dumfounded at times about this generation, wondering what needs to be done to “fix” today’s youth culture. Many millennials already know the answer and their spiritual pursuits of Jesus and “real” Christianity are resulting in love, hope, acceptance, forgiveness, meaning, and fruitfulness.
Read 2 Timothy 2:15-26.
Think of friends you have in college. Perhaps many of them were raised in a home that practiced holy habits like reading Scripture, prayer, going to church, healthy stewardship, and sharing the good news about Jesus. But many of your friends may not have such a heritage. Do not be timid about offering them the help and advantages you have found in your faith in God. Invite them to come to Chi Alpha activities on your campus, or your small group Bible study, or church on Sunday. Offer to introduce them to other men and women of your faith-filled community who are secure enough to withstand the “pull to party to forget” mentality so prevalent on campus. Suggest they check out some of the stuff you and your friends do “party to remember” where the peer pressure isn’t as dangerous or destructive.
Live communally. Like a thermostat, go ahead and make a positive difference by setting the pace for healthy life on your campus. Attending church and Chi Alpha is as wise as it is smart.
Love is a verb,
©2014 by Mike Olejarz