My father's generation was shaped by World War II, and remained loyal to
the nation and institutions they risked their lives to defend. My
generation (I'm 55) has been shaped by Vietnam, Woodstock and Watergate, and
learned to challenge authority while chasing material prosperity.
We are consumers, attending church for the benefits it offers us.
My sons' generation has been shaped by academic postmodernism, with its denial of
fixed truth and objective ethics. They reject absolutes and prize tolerance. As a
result, 59 percent of young adults who grew up in church have dropped out.
They cite the church's irrelevance, hypocrisy, and the moral failures of its
leaders. One-third of young adults who have left the church blame its
"anti-gay" policies. Many say God is missing and doubts are
How do we get them to come back? I believe that's the
wrong question. Rather than measuring success by how many people go to
church, let's measure success by how effectively the church goes to
people. Jesus didn't wait for his culture to seek him. Rather, "he
went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out
demons" (Mark 1:39). He met felt need to meet spiritual
Our Lord launched a movement, not an institution. His church
is an army attacking the gates of hell, not an ark built to weather a
storm. Nowhere does Jesus tell us to build the church. If we build
the Kingdom by taking Christ to our culture, he will build his church (Matthew 16:18).
When our skeptical culture sees the
relevance of our faith in the reality of our compassion, they will want what we
have. If it worked for the first Christians, it will work for us.