Sunday, January 28, 2007

Twentysomethings: They can handle the truth

I lead a discipleship group of about 12 young men between the ages of 18 and 25. I have to tell you that I firmly believe the church in America is missing it in regards to the twentysomething generation. It grossly underestimates and sells short the depth of this generation.

What is the twentysomething generation looking for? While it is true that they appreciate a comfortable and relevant style, that is not the primary desire. They can find relevance all over: in the movies, on TV, at college, and in music. However, what they are looking for is truth. They are looking to be challenged. They desire discipleship. They want to experience the power of God. They want God to change them and be the deep & driving force in their lives, not just another thing to fit into their busy lives because someone says it’s important. They want to be real and therefore God has to be part of their core, not just like a piece of clothing they put on every Sunday morning.

According to research released by The Barna Group, twentysomethings who were heavily involved in church as teens never make the transition to being actively involved as adults. Impatient with a church that doesn't disciple them, and unable to see the connection between their faith and everything else in life, they disconnect. Some of these young people return to the fold later in life, but most do not.

What Should We Do?
The disengagement of twentysomethings is not inevitable or unavoidable. We don’t have to perpetuate the bleeding. In fact, the steps we should take to address this crisis are things we should be doing anyway.

Discipleship and Mentoring:
Jeff Meyers, Ph.D. and President of Passing the Baton International states it clearly, “By the time they're in their twenties, Christian young people are "programmed out." They've been to so many events, so many concerts, so many evangelistic presentations that they have become inoculated to mass spiritual influence. What they really need, and what they are begging for, is life-on-life mentoring from significant adults.” Life-on-life mentoring, or one-on-one mentoring, is critical as mature Christians invest time, energy, prayer, and commitment into the lives of twentysomethings. Additionally, Jesus poured his life into young people. He primarily discipled young people with a small group approach. Small discipleship groups promote the community experience of support and accountability while intentionally exploring what it means to live a Christ-centered life. This hits home with twentysomethings. It is real and it is applicable. It is also truth.

Instill a Biblical Worldview:
David Kinnaman of The Barna Group recommends that the church “develop teenagers’ ability to think and process the complexities of life from a biblical viewpoint.” Unless we focus on helping people in the church develop a biblical worldview, they'll live as if non-theistic worldviews are true. Here's the difference, we are trying to make the church fit into their world rather than making their world revolve around the Bible. We must take seriously the thoughtful questions that twentysomethings are asking. We must promote and teach a biblical worldview. We must share why this matters. Twentysomethings want to know how the Bible relates to their lives and how it helps them deal with life.

Please, let’s stop underestimating the depth of the twentysomething generation. Let’s stop assuming that they are just looking for a cool, comfortable, and relevant time. They deserve the truth, they desire the truth, and they can handle the truth!

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