Drop outs from Church

2 12 2010

 

I have just been reading an article about the number of young people between the ages of 20 and 30 who have been dropping out of church and of Christianity. I was slightly surprised at my reaction to them – sympathy!

Now why did I feel that? Ideas pour to the surface. The fist one is that just recently I have retired from being a full-time pastor – and I feel relieved and I also feel anxious for those in our leadership team who continue on. Why relieved? Three things immediately come to mind. The first is the freedom from administration, the second is the freedom from the burden of people, and the third is the freedom from responsibility. I had better explain those.

Administration

So much of modern church life is given over to planning and administration. Hours are spent discussing church. I recently sat in briefly with a group of leaders from another church and to my horror heard the leader talking about leadership meetings going on until one in the morning! If the Holy Spirit was moving I suspect we wouldn’t spend so much time talking.

I wonder if many of our young people hunger for a reality of ‘life’ instead of administration?  Where, they might wonder, are the Philips who might get led off down a desert road at the prompting of God to go and do something that is not yet clear, something that may cut right across the organised blessing of the present?

Burden

For years I have preached and anguished and seen “what could be”. I have a feeling if that aged saint, Tozer, was around, he’d have some things to say about our lack of commitment and our lack of love and lack of effort. I think this was typified by an appeal I’ve heard about this Christmas. In recent years we have been involved in filling shoe boxes for children in Eastern Europe for Christmas. This Christmas it was suggested we supported another organisation who were saying, give us your money and we’ll fill the shoe boxes for you – to save you the effort of having to do it.

I wonder if many of our young people yearn to see a church on fire, a church all out, a church that says nothing but nothing is as important as going for God? Where, they might be thinking, are the four stretcher bearers who would be prepared to rip the roof off the house to get to Jesus?

Responsibility

For years I have anguished over my flock, often while no one else really seemed to care. That load is on someone else’s shoulders now. But I wonder if some of that sense of responsibility comes because I’ve felt alone and in the absence of the Spirit’s moving I took a load that was ultimately God’s? But that can be a cop out. But again it can be because so much of church life is institutionalised and we run on tram rails of expectation and legalism – you can’t do that, we’re the ones who lead the church.

I wonder if many of our young people see the straight-jackets we, the older generation, have perhaps put on ourselves and on the church. Where are the Jonathan’s, they wonder, who will scale the cliff with their armour bearer just to see what God might do?

So let’s shout for reality, let’s shout for freedom and let’s break lose to a new day where at long last we turn the world upside down and reveal the emptiness of the world that is crushing us!

 

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