Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What About The "Good Kids"? Part I

All of the talk about "Why Millennials Are Leaving The Church" over the past couple of weeks has interesting to say the least. I think there were valuable insights to be gleaned from both sides of the debate that ensued. Even so, there has been more than enough written about Rachel Held Evans' now famous/infamous CNN article. For that reason, I will spare you my commentary. However, the discussion has prompted me to think about one particular group of young people that are prone to "leaving". This group rarely gets any attention from the groups who specialize in "reaching young people with the Gospel". This group does not t really stir up much theological controversy. But before I describe this group to you, let me say that I do not mean to suggest that reaching any one group is more vital than another. It is easy for us to think that because we have a passion for a particular group that everyone else should drop what they are doing and join us. That is not what I am saying. My goal is to hopefully inform some people about a group that they may not have considered. Furthermore, I hope to stir up people who share my passion for reaching this group. Alright; enough preface.

The group to which I am referring could be called the "good kids". These are people who grew up in children's church, Sunday school, VBS, church camp, Disciplenow, SuperWow, youth group, Bible study, small group, mission trips, street evangelism etc. They were in church every time the doors were open and extremely involved. They only listened to Christian music and read the entire Chronicles of Narnia. They had Christian t-shirts, bracelets, hats, bumper stickers, mugs, posters, etc. Some of them went to a Christian high school and most of them went to a Christian college (if they didn't become youth pastors or worship leaders straight out of HS). The "rebellious" ones got Hebrew character and Ichthus tattoos when they turned 18. You get the picture. These are the "good kids".

But when they became adults and the real world became their world, a lot of them just got bored with the whole "Christian thing". After all, what was left for them to do? They had heard every sermon, been in every group, studied every "interesting" part of the Bible and done every outreach. In short, they had done it all. At least, that is how they felt. The thought of waking up early, driving to church, singing a couple of songs, sitting through another predictable service, learning nothing, going out to eat and driving home began to look less and less appealing.  It wasn't that they stopped believing in God, the Bible and Jesus anymore. If you talk to them today, they still say they believe it and they know more about it than 99% of the people warming the pews. They had just "been there and done that" already. And so, they packed up their Christian "furniture" and put it in the attic.

By clearing all of the Christian furniture out of their house, they made room for things that they actually found interesting. But remember, these are the "good kids". They didn't drag a bunch of nasty old couches into their house. No, they got nice new furniture -- in most cases, a lot nicer looking than the old stuff. They still have the old stuff up in the attic, but after a while, they started to forget what it looked like. In fact, they started to come up with caricaturizations of it in their minds. And then, inevitably, they started to resent the color, size, shape, and patterns of the old furniture in the attic. They wouldn't dare to get rid of it -- they love what it represents -- but whenever they see furniture of a similar style in another person's house, they feel nauseous. They say, "I have that same couch, and I really do love it. But I just hate the color and the pattern." Or, worse yet, when a furniture salesmen comes to the door and tries to sell them a new piece of furniture with a similar style. They say, "No thank you. I already have more than enough of that." But the most frustrating thing is when people who still have think that kind of furniture is "in style" come over to visit and won't shut up about how great it is. But remember, these are the "good kids". They will just smile and wait to discuss how truly  ignorant their friends really are about that truly hideous furniture.

So what is the solution? How do we "reach" the good kids? After all, they know a lot more about Christianity than most of the people who would try to reach out to them. I will let you marinate on the allegory for a little bit. That will give me time to finish up Part II where I will try my darndest to give an answer.

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