Reaching a “Lost Generation”
In recent years there has been an unsettling disengagement of young adults with the American Church. For some reason, when students graduate high school and gain the freedom of college, they are simply choosing to not to go to church anymore. In the four years that I’ve worked with youth I have received this question the most:
“How do we keep students engaged after they graduate and go off ontheir own?”
I have had to wrestle with this dilemma quite a bit. How could a student possibly say all the right things for years and then all of a sudden drop it on a whim?
Just so you know, I was one of those students. I chose to leave the church. I was disillusioned, rebellious, and ready to follow my own agenda.
Luckily, however, I was relentlessly pursued by a pastor who did not judge me for the decisions I was making. Instead, he offered me a life of fulfillment in Jesus.
This pastor came alongside me and established a relationship with me. He shattered my preconceived thoughts that all of the Christian church was filled with surface level substance and hypocrisy.
He modeled the life of Jesus. He recognized his own flaws and sins openly, and showed me how a disciple of Christ should live their life. He was not perfect by any means, and he admitted it. I would not have even listened to his wisdom had he not lived it out actively in his own life as well.
He taught me that Christians are not simply called to be believers but we are also called to be doers of God’s word. This realization revolutionized my faith. Once I began actively taking action with my faith, it began to rekindle my love for the Church.
So, to answer the question of how we can possibly reach a generation that wants nothing to do with church, I would say two things:
1. As adults and role models, we must build genuine, loving relationships with them on an individual level. No program or system will break down the barriers in a student’s heart.
2. As adults and role models, we must model the life of Jesus in our own lives. Action speaks louder than words. True love is an action, not an emotion or a saying.
Love is as simple as taking a student out to coffee to let them know they have a friend. It’s the intentional action of letting a student know that they are not inferior in any way. Love is not based on circumstance or condition. It is unconditional and endless.
There is hope for the future of the American youth in the Church. I truly believe this with all of my heart. All they need is to experience the love of Christ through His followers - through us.