In a recent editorial in the Baptist Standard Marv Knox reflects on the trend of young adults leaving the church after high school. According to one recent study the majority of young adults between the ages of 18-30 dropout of church after high school. About 20% of those surveyed felt that they are no longer “connected” with the church. For them the church had become irrelevant to their lives. Traditional church no longer meets their needs. They had grown up in the church but somehow along the way failed to develop a relevant faith. To them church was about rituals and tradition. The thought that maybe church and Christianity has become irrelevant entered my head.
First, I believe that Christianity is not irrelevant. The message of the gospel is timeless and for all generations. My evangelism professor Dr. Fish taught that we must change our methods to reach our audience but never the message.
Many of the traditions, rituals and other trappings of church are rooted in cultural not the scripture. To reach any culture it becomes necessary to make the gospel relevant to them. The style of music, how we dress for worship and even the place where we worship are a product of culture.
A study done by the Baylor University School of Social Work concluded that teens who were actively involved in ministry had a stronger faith than those who did not. These teens were more likely to remain involved in church after high school graduation. Why? Through involvement in ministry and personal Bible study they had internalized their faith. It was their faith, not something their parents made them do or believe.
Christianity is a relationship not a religion. Like any relationship it requires work and time. By work, I mean that we must become active participants, not just sit in the pews on Sunday and except someone to feed us.