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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Reaching the Young by Connecting the Past

The continuing exodus of young people from the church has grabbed a lot of church headlines. A lot of churches have tried to stem the tide by seeking more "hip" youth programs, or trying to be more relatable. That may be exactly backwards.

In his book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church...and Rethinking Faith, David Kinnaman points out that the disconnect isn't because the church isn't being hip enough, but that it isn't teaching its history to the next generation. He explains:
Intergenerational relationships matter on earth because they are a snapshot of Zion, a small but true picture of the majesty and diversity of God's people throughout the ages, who are citizens of the new reality God inaugurated in Jesus Christ. How can we recapture that sense of historical continuity, of a living, breathing body of Christ—of a divine assembly of the saints alive today and throughout the ages? ...

If younger generations are to avoid the mistakes of the past, young leaders desperately need a sense of what has gone before—and you can only get that sense from soul-shaping friendships with older Christians. Often I am surprised at how teenagers and young adults believe they are the first to think of an idea, a cause, or a way of doing something. (I know because I have thought this very thing.) Eventually most find that their idea was not so revolutionary after all; it just seemed hip and new. Meaningful relationships with older adults who are following Christ will help to ensure that your fresh ideas build on the incredible work of previous generations and that your passion to follow Jesus in this cultural moment is supported and upheld by this whole, living generation of believers.

If you are a Boomer or an Elder, I encourage you to come to grips with the revolutionary nature of the Mosaics' cultural moment. Young Christians are living through a period of unprecedented social and technological change, compressed in an astounding manner, and the longer we take to acknowledge and respond to these changes, the more we allow the disconnection between generations to progress. Ask yourself how available you have been to younger Christians. The generation gap is growing, fueled in part by technology, so it takes extra effort to be on the same page. Frankly, deep relationship happens only by spending time, and big chunks of it, in shared experiences. I encourage you to be ready for a fresh move of God, buoyed by young adults. Are you open to "reverse" mentoring, wherein you allow younger leaders to challenge your faith and renew the church? 1


1.Kinnaman, David. You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church...and Rethinking Faith. Grand Rapids: Baker Book Group, 2011. Kindle Edition. (Kindle Locations 3441-3453).

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