Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hey Church, You Lost Me! Part 6.


We've been exploring a new book on the decline of church participation among young adults: "You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving the Church," by David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Research Group.

The second part of the book examines the six most common descriptions of the church given by young adult church dropouts: overprotective, shallow, antiscience, repressive, exclusive, doubtless.  

Today we'll look at the fifth description: exclusive.

Exclusive is one of the most common descriptions of the church given by young adult former church participants.

Kinnaman spends time exploring the changing and increasingly diverse landscape in which young people are raised.  The particular claims made about Jesus Christ run up against the pluralist spirit of this age.  We've all heard statements like, "there are many paths to the same God," etc.

The author then gives three aspects of ministry that may be redefined or nuanced by the insights of young adults:

Evangelism - 
"The chasm between their beliefs and those of the broader culture, which says that it's offensive or even hateful to argue for a specific religion or truth claim...for better or worse, many young Christians believe that evangelism must be connected to actions on behalf of others."
Denominations - 
"Young Christians of all stripes want to move beyond 'theological feudalism' in favor of a shared vision of their role in Christ's kingdom."
The "Other" - 
"The more critical among the younger generation might say that the typical church is good at reaching 'recycled Christians' - believers who are uncommitted to another church body - but not at reaching those who are truly on the outside looking in."
Exclusion turns to Embrace- Kinnaman closes the chapter by reflecting, 
"How would the church be different if we were to reject exclusivism as unacceptable and tolerance as not good enough? What would we do differently when discipling young adults to help them cultivate Christlike empathy that identifies with the least, the last, and the lost?"
The Lutheran Two-Step of "law and gospel" may help us to understand these concerns:
  1. According to the law, ALL OF US are excluded from eternal life, salvation, and the favor of God.
  2. According to the gospel, ALL OF US are loved by God and have been died for by Christ, and have the welcome to be included in God's family by grace.
How about you?  How should the unique claims of Christian faith be communicated in today's pluralistic culture?  Please leave a comment below:  

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