Monthly Archives: December 2008

Rock Bottom

Or, how ’bout this one?

rockbottom

To quote Bill Cosby: “Putting his…face…in a place…that was never meant…for his face.”

Why Youth Leave the Church

Mike Erre, in his most recent book Death by Church, notes that young adults are leaving the church in “record numbers:”

“We should not be surprised, then, that the world these days objects more to Christians than to Christ. The hypocrisy of the Church is what keeps most away from Jesus…according to one survey, the three most common perceptions of present-day Christianity are ‘antihomosexual (an image held by 91 percent of young outsiders), judgmental (87 percent), and hypocritical (85 percent).’ The authors rightly conclude, ‘Modern Christianity no longer seems Christian.” [The kids in this study] had been to church and knew Christians and Christianity.”

He goes on to admit that this doesn’t mean we should skip the hard parts of the gospel message or tone things down, but that youngsters are, “simply objecting to what they see.”

He concludes: “Because of this, young adults are abandoning the church in record numbers.”

I can agree with what some of Erre says. No doubt, we in the church need to clean up our act, and our negligence of holiness has driven youth away. However, his picture is incomplete. He misses the fact that perhaps the largest factor is that we are not engaging the minds of the youth in our church.
How many youth groups are entertainment and social-group focused? How many youth groups shy away from giving the kids meat, preferring instead to make things “fun”?

I’m all for fun. The more, the better, in a sense. But we clearly are not preparing our young ones for college. They are getting picked off in record numbers, as Brett Kunkle demonstrates in this post.brettkunkle

Brett is a guy that interacts with youth for a living. Not only does he have the academic research to back up his claims, but he has direct experience…a lot of direct experience.

I brought him to speak to the Christian group at the school in which I teach. After he spoke, I spent some time picking his brain. One question I asked him was, “What is the main thing you’d teach as a youth pastor to prepare your kids for life after high school?”

His answer astounded me: “Rich, I’d teach them theology and apologetics.” It was that simple for him. Of course, if he talked on, he’d probably lay out some other things as well, and maybe some of his solutions would be more along the lines of Erre’s concern (another thing he puts at the forefront is getting students “in the game,” actively sharing their faith. He leads youth missions trips to Cal Berkely and Utah that do just that). However, it is significant that theology and apologetics were the first things on Brett’s mind.

Think this is just Balderdash? Read the book by Christian Smith that I link to above. In that book you will find that the #1 reason youth gave for leaving the church was “it just didn’t make sense anymore.” Most of the reasons gave were variations on that theme. Yes, hypocrisy by those in the church is *one* major thing that contributes to this confusion; but we’re kidding ourselves if we think that no training in doctrine and apologetics has little or nothing to do with it.

I can speak from experience. As a brand new Christian my first year of college, I can testify that were it not for books from the likes William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland, and were it not for the astutely-trained men I knew from Intervarsity, Campus Crusade, and Athletes in Action, I would have given up the faith almost immediately after I picked it up.

Without Brett’s solution, we are leaving our youth naked and defenseless. No shield, no armor, no weapon, not even a slingshot…and the bullets are whizzin’ by fast.

Consider supporting Brett today. His is a vitally important ministry to both the church and the world.

Here are some related posts:

How Should we Interact with Youth?

The Ethics of America’s Youth

“Distracted to Death” Series (links to previous parts in series included)

Simon: Hot. God: Not

If you like what you read, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed (RSS button found in the top right in the sidebar).

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Motivation for a Smart A**

simplicity

Found this one on Stumbleupon.

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Single and Willin’ to Mingle

After reading my post on delaying marriage, some of you might be left wondering:

“How do you ‘get going’ without overdoing it?

This is a great question. I’m no expert, but I can mention a few things that I (and others) think is wise:

First, hang out in social circles where you will rub shoulders with co-eds who are serious about marriage. This species is shrinking in abundance in the church these days, but they are still around, so finding folks like this won’t be too hard.

Second, get an older couple that can help mentor you in your maturity as a whole, including preparing for marriage.

Third, guys, take chances. You don’t have to chase down every girl you see (such a habit will earn you a bad rep.), but really, put down the game console and grow up.

Girls, keep high standards on the things that matter (i.e., do not entertain advances from men who aren’t dedicated followers of Christ–this goes for Christian women.), but be willing to give guys a chance who perhaps doesn’t fit your every whim. If it’s not “love at first sight” and you don’t get butterflies in your stomach, so what? Even though he’s not your typical height and even though he doesn’t have the voice of Josh Groban, that doesn’t mean he’s not your “soul mate” (a “soul mate” is a dubious concept anyway).

Be open to God working in unexpected , non-Hollywood-movie ways.

And, perhaps most importantly, put away the “Jesus is the only man I need/I’m just fine being single” talk. Guys will hear this and take you seriously. Meaning: you will continue to endlessly complain that guys don’t ask you out.

What do you all think? Do you have any other suggestions? Which suggestion, if any, do you think is the best?

Be sure to check out the following related posts:
The Cost of Delaying Marriage

Singleness: All the Rage

Top 5 Things Women Find Attractive in Men

The Dating List

Redefining the Family

If you like what you read, then please consider subscribing to my RSS feed (RSS button found at the top right in the sidebar).

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Why we’ll Never Understand Each Other

Some Monday afternoon humor for ya:

whywellneverunderstandeachother

whywellneverunderstandeachother2

whywellneverunderstandeachother3

whywellneverunderstandeachother4

whywellneverunderstandeachother5

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Singleness: all the Rage

There’s no question that the times they are a changin’.  A boy born in 1900 has more in common with Moses than with a boy born in the 21st century.

One change that many have sought to comment on is the number of singles. Somewhere around 40% of Americans are unmarried. The average age of those marrying has risen significantly in the last 20 years (read the book in the first link for details).

mordantorange.com

photo credit: mordantorange.com

This has not gone unnoticed by many churches and pastors. As a current single man, I’m glad they are noticing. Their response, however, has left me disappointed. Many churches and pastors have responded by emphasizing marriage and family less (Most of Driscoll’s recommendations are solid…its just the implications of the first paragraph that I take issue with) and have focused more on coaching singles to “remain content” in their singleness.

Now, I’m all about remaining content in where you are at. That’s what Philippians 3:14 is all about, after all (NOT a prooftext for athletes searching for sporting victory!). However, what bothers me is what these folks think “being content” looks like.

If a single person voices his desire to get married today, more often than not he will get a rebuke from both the world and the church. Those in the church might say something like this: “Paul says its better to be single. You can serve God better. You just need to be content and focus on Christ. If God wants you to marry, He’ll bring you a mate. Don’t take matters into your own hands. If you do, that’s getting in the way of God’s plan for you.”

The problems with this are legion. First, we miss the fact that 1 Cor 7 was instruction given “because of the present crisis.” I don’t think today in the West falls under a “present crisis.” Paul wasn’t talking about the Dow crumbling. When Christians in the West start getting the slow boil in oil for their faith, then by all means, we should put marriage on the backburner, but until that time…

Secondly, celibacy, not singleness, is in mind here! Paul was talking about a permanent, no sex, no dating, no “cuddle buddy,” no “friends with benefits” state. How many of us singles who glibly tout the “singleness is better” line can embrace that FOR LIFE?

So “Jesus is the only man I need” hmmm? Really? (note to the ladies: if you say this, most men will take you at your word. Meaning: we will ask other women out. So don’t say something like this, then turn around and wonder why guys don’t ask you out.)

The biblical model is: if you can be celibate for life and not be bitter, go for it. That is a very high and worthy calling. Otherwise, young man, get movin’ and find a spouse.

Thirdly and more to the point, why is dating and marriage the ONLY place where we think its wise to say, “just be content. Don’t get in the way of God’s plan. If He wants to give you X, He’ll bring it to you?” Would we say that when it comes to finding a job? A house? A church? Evangelism? Sanctification and holiness? No.

It’s not either/or, as in “either I do it myself, or I let God do it.” In the economy of the Kingdom, it’s both/and: we do our part, and God does His. You can’t just expect a spouse to fall in your lap. Though God can and does that from time to time, we have a part to play in the process. Though one can have an idolatrous obsession with dating and marriage, it is very good to actually prepare yourself for marriage, and this includes seeking a spouse…at the very least, putting yourself in a position where you will bump into good candidates.

Fourth, pastors and churches who tail back marriage and family issues miss that what typically fills the void is not biblical and holy. Though a few, no doubt, will focus on serving God more, a whole swath of singles will instead use that message to indulge in adultolescence. There will be an increase in recreational dating, and an increase in delayed responsibility. People will not just marry later; they will needlessly delay marriage, and this has a cost to it.

We singles need help not in remaining single, but in marrying well. This goes past a few sermon series on God’s view of sex and how its good. This goes past pre-marital counseling.

Le me issue a plea: we need help in actually preparing for marriage! Encouraging us to delay brings hidden costs, costs that we don’t realize until its too late. We *will* date. Will you help us date well? Will you help us actually meet godly members of the opposite sex?

And really, Bible friends, having someone want to set you up isn’t that big a deal. I don’t know why people are so freaked out about it. Yeah, there needs to be some guidelines in place, but really, if someone wants to set me up, then I appreciate the help (not now, though…I’m taken. :)).

Please, please don’t respond by thinking we want a “meat market.” Don’t set fire to that straw man.

This attempt at *catering* (not ministering) to singles by scaling back focus on marriage and family is the cure that will kill the patient. It might make singles feel better, but in the end it is not single friendly.

As Candace Watters notes, “Helping Christian families form is still a fundamental role and responsibility of the body of Christ. God created the institution of family even before he created the church. Family is the institution that, for most of us, will be our primary area of spiritual shaping and development. It’s where we grow in our faith, learn how to serve others, and become more like Christ.”

“Pushing the family message to the margin is not the answer. Better to tolerate some of the quirks of a marriage-friendly church.”

“The good news for singles is that churches with a healthy perspective and emphasis on the biblical family are more likely to be a helpful place for finding a spouse and forming a family of their own.”

We need real solutions. We do not need more mimicking of the world.

In addition to the links above, be sure to check out the following related posts:

Top 5 Things Women Find Attractive in Men

The Dating List

Redefining the Family

Like what you read? Then subscribe to my RSS feed (RSS button at the top right in the sidebar)!

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The Cost of Delaying Marriage

Young adults today, in general, tend to delay marriage much more than young adults in ages past. The median age of first marriages has risen a little more than 5 years in the last 30 years.

thenewsmanual.net

photo credit: thenewsmanual.net

For some of us, marrying later is not a choice.  We try to pursue marriage, but it takes two to tango, as the saying goes.

A guy asks a girl out, but gets turned down, because the girl either has astronomically high expectations that not even Jesus would satisfy or she’s waiting until her 30s to get married, wanting to “have fun” first.

A girl earnestly desires to be a wife and raise a family, and she prays earnestly to that effect. If a guys asks, she’ll accept his invitation (as long as he doesn’t smell like fish, drive a windowless black van, live with his mom, and have that creepy cross-eyed look). But the guys–who want a girlfriend with the spirituality of Beth Moore, the voice of Rebecca St. James, and the looks of J.Lo–aren’t paying attention.

Can I get an amen!?

But, for countless twenty-somethings, marrying later is a conscious choice. More than any other generation, for various reasons, we delay marriage until our late twenties or thirties.

At first glance, those who adopt this lifestyle seem to get the best of both worlds. Build career now, travel, live in the city, go to Vegas every now and then, see the world, maybe serve the Lord in unique ways, get some extra education, then settle down, marry, and have kids. You can have it all!

But I gotta ask: is this wise? Is there a hidden cost to needlessly delaying marriage that we are blind to?

Well…yes.

The first one is perhaps the most obvious, and it is geared mostly towards women: ye olde ’biological clock.’ Sociologist Jean Twenge jokes about what she calls “women math:” “If we get married next year, I’ll be 32; we’ll want a year or two to be married without kids and it might take a year to get pregnant, so I’ll be 34 or 35 before I’m pregnant and probably 36 when the child is born. Then if we wait until the first kid is two years old before we try for another one, I’ll be trying to get pregnant at 38. Crap.”

The other reasons are not so obvious, and they pertain to both genders.

You’d think that the longer you delay marriage, the happier you’ll be once you are married. We think this because we assume we mature as we get older in singleness. We think that singleness is a sort of “marriage incubator.” But really, it’s not. Extended singleness can give wisdom to a select few, but research shows that as far as marriage happiness is concerned, the sweet spot for getting married is between 24 and 27. After that, happiness declines steadily with each year. Of course you can beat the odds…I’m just giving you the trend.

Mainly, we pretend that years of single living where we call the shots ultimately won’t have an effect on us. When we want, we’ll be able to settle down and love sacrificially just fine.

When you are single, even if you have roommates, and even if you serve the Lord in many ministries, its nothing compared to marriage (so I’ve heard). When a friendship gets uncomfortable or inconvenient, or you just don’t like the person anymore, you can avoid them or stop hanging out with them. You can leave your roommates behind. You can change ministries. But you can’t run from your spouse! You simply cannot live as an “independent, free” individual in a marriage.

Lemme put it straight: The longer you live “independent and free,” the harder it will be for you to adjust to a marriage. I’m finding this true even in dating. It’s a HUGE adjustment to me to think about another person to the degree I need to in this relationship. This will exponentially increase when I’m married. The thought patterns and life habits I’m struggling with are just the ones that I’ve ingrained in myself as a single man.

Ladies: age doesn’t necessarily guarantee maturity in a man. Yes, sometimes it does, but if you needlessly delay marriage, you might turn 30 or 35 only to find out many men your age have been hugely affected by their years of playing the field, going dirt biking with the bros on the weekends, and playing video games. That’s not a good formula for a husband. The ones who are good husbands now took that vocation seriously in their early 20s and got down to business. Sometimes, the guys who are still single are passive when it comes to marriage and they have been allowed to be that way.

Don’t misread me: I’m not saying that if you are single in your late 20s or 30s that it’s your fault or that you are immature (see the paragraph about marrying later not being a choice for some for evidence of this!)….someone is bound to twist my words–always happens–but, hey, I’m almost 30, and I’m single, so be realistic in interpreting my words.

All I’m suggesting is that you can’t just turn off the independent living switch when you get married. It takes work, and turning off the switch is much, much harder when it’s all you’ve known for an extended period of time.

Bottom line: We are moldable when young, but as we age, we become “set in our ways.” Many of these ways are antithetical to a happy marriage, and they become harder to shake off the longer we live in them.

So save yourself the grief…get going!

So, how do you “get going” without overdoing it? Tune in Monday for some suggestions.

Be sure to check out the following related posts:

Top 5 Things Women Find Attractive in Men

The Dating List

Redefining the Family

If you like what you read, then please consider subscribing to my RSS feed (RSS button found at the top right in the sidebar).

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