The One Reason Kids Leave Church (A Response to Jim Daly’s “Ten Reasons Kids Leave the Church”)


Over at Focus on the Family, someone is thinking. That usually spells trouble.

Ha! I jest.

Jim Daly wrote a piece about why young people abandon the Faith (“Ten Reasons Kids Leave the Church“). It’s not a bad postmortem. Many of those reasons are decent secondary excuses. They play well.

What doesn’t play well is the real reason why youth leave the Church:

Kids today look at their parents’ Christian faith and see that it changes nothing.

That one’s not in Daly’s list. And probably for a reason. Because it asks those of us of parenting age to change the way we live because of what we say we believe.

Kids are not stupid. Because we live in a therapeutic culture where everyone is aware of the world’s, the nation’s, the state’s, and their own individual problems and the need to address them, kids are constantly aware of talk vs. walk. Constantly.

Every Sunday, kids go to church, hear about the way we’re supposed to live as a Church, and then they go home and witness not one iota of that message being lived. Nada.

Sure, mom and dad may pray and read the Bible, but what part of their life is actually changed by doing so? In what ways are their Christian lives at odds with the World at all? In what ways does anything they believe change their community for the better?

Kids are highly aware of B.S. This generation can spot hypocrisy like no other generation. We live in a cynical culture that is always taking a look at reality versus talk and applying a hammer to it all. Anything that survives a bashing is worthy of a further look. Anything that doesn’t, well…

Sadly, Christianity is not holding up. The reason? Kids don’t see that the beliefs of the generation that came before them make a lick of difference.

Leaving, walking out of churchThey HEAR an ideological distinction espoused, but they don’t see it lived.

They HEAR about the Church as a countercultural community, but they don’t experience it personally.

They HEAR about a mission, but their parents don’t center their lives around that mission.

They HEAR about a relationship with Jesus, but they don’t see what that relationship changes, because it certainly hasn’t changed their parents’ way of life.

So what do kids do? They toss it all. Because it’s irrelevant. Better to join the Sierra Club. At least it ACTS on what it says it believes.

There is no greater disconnect in a church than the wildly committed youth group that does mission projects, helps the poor, evangelizes, and on and on, but then those committed kids see their parents doing none of those things.

The message sent to those young people by their parents: That “Jesus stuff” doesn’t really matter in the end. It’s something you do before you do the REAL work of being an adult. And that REAL work of being an adult is to keep your nose clean, bolster the status quo, and settle into a traditional American Dream lifestyle.

Now, I’m going to throw one more log, a big one, on this fire.

This generation of children has seen no genuine Holy Spirit revival. For the most part, the real gifts of the Spirit are not practiced before them.

Sure, in Pentecostal and charismatic churches they’ve heard a ton of prophetic words that didn’t come to pass, and words of knowledge that were off, and on and on, but the REAL gifts are outside their experience. They haven’t been shaken to the core by a genuine move of God either.

And in those churches that don’t believe that “stuff,” the kids learn that Christianity is just something you think. It’s all in your head.

Parents who don’t live the faith and a powerless church.

I want to leave too. Don’t you?

42 thoughts on “The One Reason Kids Leave Church (A Response to Jim Daly’s “Ten Reasons Kids Leave the Church”)

  1. Somehow, I think our confidence in our theology and our perplexity in our theodicy finds an answer in the fact that God wants to work through us.

    Our kids are discovering that, even when they don’t discover it in church.

    They can love and serve without the limitations of church on the other ways they want to live and enjoy life.

    As I recall, the same thing happened 50 years ago … starting in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. It didn’t last. Because it wasn’t built on the foundation of Christ.

    • Keith,

      How does one reconcile being open to being led of God…so long as that leading doesn’t interfere with the way one wants to live? It seems like the young are making the same error as their elders, only with better branding.

  2. A couple of thoughts….

    It is not just kids that are leaving “the church”, a whole lot of adults are too. Some were never believers in the first place, which is a lot of the reason church kids leave, and others are believers but see no real reason to keep showing up, shutting up and paying up to perpetuate a religious organization.

    I do agree that what we are told about “the church” and how we live as “the church” are almost polar opposites in many ways. That is pretty easy to diagnose, the question becomes what can be done about it? Short of a pretty radical change I don’t know what the answer is. The economic and societal reality we live in makes it hard to imagine a different arrangement. I kind of know what I think it should look like but making it happen is a different story.

    When the lines between “the church” and the world are as blurry as they are, it is little wonder that kids and adults alike are walking away. Really, who can blame them?

    • Arthur, you wrote: “Short of a pretty radical change I don’t know what the answer is. The economic and societal reality we live in makes it hard to imagine a different arrangement. I kind of know what I think it should look like but making it happen is a different story.”

      Christians with a national presence are talking about change. The problem is that they never take it far enough. Timidity still reigns.

      But if enough people start pushing leaders to find that “other gear,” maybe we can kick this thing into overdrive.

      Barring a massive revival that wakes us up, we can at least keep pushing. Talk IS cheap, but for the longest time no one was talking at all. At least we’ve come that far. Maybe instead of platitudes we’ll start working toward answers that are a little harder and we’ll find ways to achieve them more as a group and less as individuals.

  3. Renee Weber

    You say, “The message sent to those young people by their parents: That “Jesus stuff” doesn’t really matter in the end. It’s something you do before you do the REAL work of being an adult. And that REAL work of being an adult is to keep your nose clean, bolster the status quo, and settle into a traditional American Dream lifestyle.” I would add to that the church is doing the same thing. They are teaching that we don’t want to let our sin be seen.
    Whether you are istening or not the loudest message our kids are hearing is that the church is not to be involved in the abortion/unplanned pregnancy issue. Teens know that and they understand much more than they will tell you. “This generation of children has seen no genuine Holy Spirit revival.” They have seen the adults in their churches do not care that millions of their peers are being killed. Fear of an unwanted fetus matters more than God given life. Kids are not stupid. There is a greater disconnect in the church… and they know it well and they see it clearly. Just ask them. They know which of their peers have suffered from the cover up of incest or a date rape. They know which of them have post-abortion trauma. They live in the real world much more than most adults. Why don’t Christian adults get down there with them and live the faith and share the power of the church to those men and women who have created a child and need help making the next choice a Godly one? This our young folks would notice and believe as true faith.

    • Renee,

      I’m not understanding your comments. Are you saying that Christian parents are covering up incestuous pregnancies within their families (and within the local church) by using abortion, and this is what is driving our young people away from the Lord?

  4. Dee B

    It’s the same for every generation it seems…Jesus hasn’t come back yet. So many pastors place an emphasis on “Jesus is coming to a town near you soon” and the youth don’t see it happen…the adults don’t see it happen and they get discouraged…they lose faith. There is an ever increasing number of agnostic and atheistic homes…children that grow up without knowing much about God sure aren’t gonna be at church, right? Jesus warned of the times…an evil generation that demanded a sign…”How much more blessed are they that believe without seeing”—Jesus words to Thomas. Rather than living by faith and understanding that God provides for everything we have, daily…they want to see grand miracles that astound. If parents are failing at anything these days is instilling the basics of how God operates and the importance of faith.

    • Dee B,

      I’m not sure I’m tracking your conflation of Jesus’ statement about an evil generation wanting a sign and the reality that the Church is empowered to work in signs and wonders.

  5. Renee Weber

    Hmm. You seem to miss the other 2 points I made about abortion specifically and just key in on incest. Those were just 3 examples of how abortion confuses our children. In fact the issue is even broader. Is this a move on your part to avoid discussing abortin further? My point seems even clearer now. The Church avoids confronting abortion and even allows it in all it’s forms to be hidden.
    I am saying that Christian parents and leaders are overlooking a crucial epoc in the lives of their children. As you said,”Kids are not stupid.” They in fact know enough of the true situation among their peers in and out of the church to question what their parents say they believe. The abortion issue among Christians is a basic stumbling block to this generation. By outwardly avoiding it Christians are confusing and misleading their children in the truth.
    We also need to admit that if we think there are no post abortive women and even men in our church, any church, we are willfully blind.
    The young folks in your church have alot to teach us if we will persue the real need. Deal with abortion honestly and in all it’s ugly truth and you will see your children wanting to walk fully in their salvation.

    • Renee,

      Most of the churches I have been a part of have been

      – strongly against abortion
      – clear to their membership on the church’s stance on abortion
      – never shy in talking about why abortion is wrong
      – not so blind as to think that no one in the church has had an abortion
      – not covering for people who have had an abortion
      – willing to forgive those who have had an abortion
      – willing to help those who are oppressed by remorse after having an abortion
      – and in no way hiding anything about the issue of abortion from its young people

      I guess some churches like the one you describe exist, but I am not aware of them personally. It’s why I didn’t go into the issue of “vanilla” abortion and instead keyed on the incest statement. Because you are making quite a bold statement there by saying that churches are covering up pregnancies and subsequent abortions that were the result of incest. I am not stupid; I know that incestuous pregnancies exist. And I know that a rare church leadership may play games with such occurrences.

      But there is no way that such a thing is rampant in our churches. Nor can such a thing be blamed as a primary cause for why kids are leaving the church.

    • Mr. Poet

      Renee, there is more to salvation than saving unborn children from abortive death. Jesus did not die on the cross and rise from the dead so that I could chain myself to the entrance of an abortion clinic. I also agree with Dan. Most churches I have attended take the same positions he listed.


      I will state what I believe may happen in some cases…perhaps in many cases. The churchgoing parents in a family outwardly stand against abortion. They may even believe what they say. Then their adolescent daughter gets pregnant. So after wringing their hands, a dark night of the soul, much soul searching, or whatever else they want to call it, they give in and sin. They take their daughter to get an abortion because they can’t have it “ruin her life”: her educated, career-driven, American Dream life.

      The parents might cover this up by leaving their church. But the daughter, whose own spiritual life will be thrown for a loop by this glaring paradox, will talk; and the kids at church will find out through the grapevine, mainly because they go to the same school.

      This, though, is not the key reason kids are leaving the church. This particular sin, if and when it happens in a church, is just an indication of the larger problem, which is what Dan pointed out: “Kids today look at their parents’ Christian faith and see that it changes nothing.”

  6. Artemis

    If I could say something, A lot of my generation leaves the church because yes, as the author says, we can smell BS from miles away. Examples? Here are some:
    1. Churches preach love, and hate at the same time. Every “christian” I know is a hypocrite, quick to point the finger, and pretty much the kind of person I try to avoid, for fear of looking at him/her wrong and setting them off.
    2. Christian churches have still not come to a conclusion on which parts of the bible they follow, and which they won’t. Every church I’ve been to will rant and rage that homosexuality is wrong, but then won’t look at the verses in Leviticus right next to the anti-homo ones that condemn what they are doing. Meanwhile, tying back into mmy first point, church people are awful to LGBTQ people. Legitimately awful, and coming from a place that proclaims God’s love, that just isn’t right.
    3. We aren’t allowed to ask questions. Any teenager/ twenty-something will tell you that if you ask too many questions, you get shunned, and told to just shush and listen. Don’t ask about anything or why anything, just follow blindly, and you get more heavenly brownie points.
    Us leaving church has nothing to do with our generation being wicked, or looking for a sign, or anything like that. All we want is for you guys to stop, take a step back, look at what you’re doing, and get your act together, please.

    • Artemis,

      Thanks for responding. Would you be willing to answer a few questions?

      1. You say churches preach hate along with love. What are some examples of hate that you have personally heard preached?

      2. What is repentance? What does repentance look like for someone who is homosexual?

      3. What questions are you not allowed to ask in church? Why do you think that is?

      4. What does it mean for the church to “get its act together”? What would that look like in the typical church?

      Thanks. What you have to say is important, so I would be greatly blessed to read it.

  7. Mr. Poet

    I have left church in every practical sense. I still go once in a while, but I am on the periphery of two congregations: one Southern Baptist, one Pentecostal. My house church, which I consider my actual home, has not met for months now because of a move and illness.

    Revivalism played a large part in my thinking and most of the churches I attended. But after fifteen or so years of being told that revival is just around the corner and would break out if we would just pray more and hold on, etc., I got tired of it.

    When I was younger, I did not fit in. I either ignored that fact that I did not fit in, or I magnified my differences in order to stand out even more. Now that I am in my late thirties, the fact that I do not fit in has gotten to me. I am single, never married, no children, and without an “acceptable” career. Just yesterday, I went out to lunch with my mom to a restaurant we both wanted to try. Most customers were businessmen and -women. I felt awkward and like I wasn’t where I am supposed to be at this point in my life.

    That feeling spills over to church: when I attend family-centric churches where, outwardly, the nuclear family takes precedence. I am no longer a youth nor a college-aged young adult nor a twenty-something single. I no longer fit in even among the age groups where adults would look the other way if you did not fit in.

    How to change it? I do not know. All of my “spiritual life,” I simply chose a church based on one thing or another, once choosing one out of a phonebook, another time choosing one out of five listed on a doorknob flyer, and I was blessed. I was blessed when I first went to the Southern Baptist Church and the Pentecostal church.

    But now…I feel more and more adrift.

    • Poet,

      I hear you. I have similar feelings.

      For me, there’s a sense of marginalization. Some people will always be square pegs, and their squareness will mean they will always be placed on the periphery. They are team players, but they are not TEAM players. They will not instantly conform to whatever the new zeitgeist may be, and when they question that zeitgeist, they are only further marginalized. They have a great deal to give, but what they have is not the latest zeitgeist either. One day, they wake up and find that all the doors have closed. Then what?

      I think there is a place for the square pegs. There always is. It’s just that perhaps it’s in another locale. I don’t think is such that people are forever pushed to the periphery. There’s enough variety in the world that some place for the square pegs is out there. I know that’s the case. Finding it is the issue.

  8. linda

    Hi Mr. Edelen,
    The wildly committed youth group may be committed more to the youth pastor than they are to God and his plan. I believe there is a lot of psychology being used in churches today. Probably some brainwashing as well.
    Parents are not the only ones who have dropped the ball. Christian leaders have as well.
    I think that we need to remember that sheep follow and leaders lead the sheep. The larger responsibility and repercussion for what has happened to believers lies with the leaders. This just makes sense to me. Leaders have grabbed for leadership when they were not ready. They didn’t have the life experience with God, the walk with God that they needed before stepping to the pulpit (so to speak).

    The direction and goal changed in the church. Maybe that is why what is spoken from the pulpit varies so much from what is actually seen and experienced in the church.

    I think that we are waiting for that ‘shaking’ from God that the scriptures speak about. I’m not sure what form that is going to take. On the other hand we look at what God did in the time of Jesus and the temple worship. God’s presence and blessing left it and God did something else with true believers that was in his plan from the beginning.

  9. Mr. Poet

    “Kids today look at their parents’ Christian faith and see that it changes nothing.”

    I agree with this. But this is not always the case. There are parents whose Christian faith does change them, but their children still leave the church. I met one such family. The parents led a faithful life with wonderful testimonies, and they changed their lifestyles to raise their children properly, so much so that the father, a corporate lawyer, bought a house closer to work so he could shorten his commute. He wanted to spend more time with his family.

    The couple homeschooled their children. They participated heavily in church activities at a Bible-preaching church. I wish I had been raised by a family like theirs. But when the oldest son came of age and went off on his own, he became a drunk rabblerouser. Huh? I had been taught that such ought not happen when one’s child is raised according to Biblical principles. But it happened.

    Examples like that lead me to add a corollary to your explanation, Dan:

    Some kids today look at their parents’ Christian faith and see that it changes their parents into something the kids don’t want to be.”

    I suppose it comes down to the Prodigal Son. Some children, no matter how you raise them, want to play the prodigal. Then other children play the part of the older son, who pointed out the obvious to dear old Dad: that the younger son wasted his inheritance on loose living, while you, Dad, would not give me even a young kid so I could party. That illustrated, despite the older son’s outward obedience, what really preoccupied his mind: women and merrymaking. Just like what most young men think of. Ha, ha.

  10. bobp

    Kids are not stupid?

    You and Mr. Daly make great points but you both almost totally exempt kids themselves from their own strange decisions.

    Kids make VERY poor judgements and decisions. They don’t think, they’re impulsive, flaky, bored to death, prone to temptation, jump off roofs if everyone else does and will use lame excuses to justify.

    Youth equates poor judgement. I’ve seen very bad examples of poor adult behavior but why use this to make kids blameless. Adults leave church for lousy reasons, too.

    • Bobp,

      So you’re expecting kids to be adults? What kid, for lack of experience, DOESN’T make bad choices now and then? I was a straight-A student who never got in trouble, did what his parents said, didn’t abuse substances or the opposite sex, and yet I still made bad choices about life now and then. Maybe not as bad as some kids, but my youth still worked against me.

      That said, studies are showing more and more clearly that kids start off better than they end up many times. We’re taking mostly good “material” to work with and not working it well, either through bad training or through not being the shield we should be. Ultimately, we adults are the trainers. If a project goes south at work, who is responsible? The people who worked on it. Period. Blaming the project doesn’t get anyone anywhere. Kids are our projects. If they go bad, what is accomplished by pointing fingers at other people (or them) when they do?

      • bobp

        Am i expecting kids to be adults? Let’s see. They drive , produce offspring, months away from voting, dying for their country, entering the workforce, and don’t forget the legal system. How long are we to not hold them accountable?

        I went to church school, MYF for years and got almost nil in any bible knowledge from the teachers. They could’ve done much better but I don’t hold them liable from my not persuing the faith until adulthood.

        My personal observations from my personal experiences,IMHO,are valid.

        • Mr. Poet

          A fellow MYFer! UMYF here! I left the UMC when I was 18 or so. One Sunday, I was sitting in the service, and the youth came out to do a skit about a parable. It hit me that I had been participating in and watching these skits about these parables since I was in preschool, and I still had no idea what the parable was about! I thought I knew a lot of Bible (and I did, compared to most of the people in that church), but when I joined a church where the pastor really preached out of the Word, I learned that first Sunday how little I knew.

          Of course, that church folded. Otherwise, I might still be going there.

          • Poet,

            It’s amazing how ineffective some educational techniques are. Plus, we assume that what reaches one kid reaches them all.

            The irony of it all is that the Bible says Jesus’ use of parables served to obfuscate His message for those who could not understand them. Even His own disciples did not understand them until he unpacked their meaning. Should be a lesson to teachers who ape a teaching method without understanding it.

        • Bobp,

          How long? Depends on the kid. Depends on the home life.

          When I graduated from college with my Christian Education degree, a sea change had occurred in just the couple years I’d been in those ivied halls. Churches were dismantling their paid education staffs right and left and going with all-volunteer efforts. We can see the results.

          I’m not saying a church needs a large, full-time, paid education staff. But they need at least a person or two part time and paid. The educational efforts in most churches are a disjointed mess because no one is in charge and there is no oversight. We should not be surprised at the poor results.

  11. Mr. Poet

    I had (or tried to have) a heart-to-heart with my mother today about why some people, like the Boston Potluck Bombers, turn out the way they turn out while other kids turn out the way they turn out. And often, it comes down, at least partly, to this. Some kids deal better with boredom than others. The younger Potluck Bomber was a pothead who seemingly was such a nice guy and had it all going for him? Yeah. Booooring. He probably went radical because he was bored with life.

    I do not deal with boredom very well. Neither, I think, does my cousin, whose life is a train wreck. Not a train wreck waiting to happen. A train wreck that has happened, and the cars may still be piling up. I explained to my mother how I think and my cousin may think. She didn’t get it. She couldn’t get it. She couldn’t understand what it felt like to be us. My aunt and uncle, the parents of my cousin, have a comfortable life with a nice house in the rural suburbs. They have a nice, boring life. My mother has a nice, boring life. People like my cousin and I look at lives like that, and although we would love to have the cushion of a nice retirement, when we really hone in on what our parents’ lives are like, we want to rip our hair out and run for the hills. Really.

    Then I told my mother about my friend’s son. My friend is concerned that her son is not concentrating like he should on his schoolwork. He is not concerned (since she is too poor to pay anything towards his college) about getting scholarships to college. He doesn’t really know what he wants to study in college, anyway. And he has told me how depressed he gets sometimes.

    He is about to turn 15. He is in ninth grade. If he follows the typical college track, he has seven years of school left at least to get his high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree. He will be 22 and off to get his first “real job”…that is, if his college degree will get him a job. Otherwise, it is off to graduate school for him, another two years at least. He can marry in his early twenties…if he has a career that can support a family. Otherwise, he is looking at a good decade or so before he can marry, if things go as things tend to go.

    His life is set before him. He may have plenty of choices about details, but the overall oomph of his life is set. He has no choice…unless he rebels.

    Now think about it. You’re 15 years old. Whether you want to be on fire for God or a little rebellious hellion, it doesn’t really matter to the majority of authority figures around you. You can be on fire for God, as long as it fits into the paint-by-numbers real world. Oh, you’re such a rebel? Go ahead and sow your wild oats. But don’t screw up so badly that you can’t get that sheepskin, Junior.

    • Poet,

      Billy Graham said that the number one problem for youth is that they need a challenge. I don’t think truer words have been spoken.

      I think we ALL need a challenge. The problem is the type of challenge we are willing to tackle.

      No one wants to deal with a medical challenge. Or a family/relational challenge. Or a financial challenge. And yet those are the kind of challenges most adults face. Those challenges grind people down. Most people do not come out of them feeling energized and better for having faced them. Most times, folks are just happy to get through them at all–if they DO get through them.

      But then there are the challenges of life that allow us to change the directory of the future for us and for others. I think everyone gets at least a slight buzz from those kinds of challenges.

      Yet the medical/family/finances challenge looms so large in our society anymore that few people are in a place for meeting that second kind of energizing challenge. And that is why the malaise we see out there is so high. I think people really are worn down. And if they are, what do they have left for that kind of challenge that provides the buzz and the feeling of accomplishment?

      I think that God created Man in such a way that we desire a challenge. But so many of the challenges today have a questionable return. Or little more than a survival return. Neither of those satisfy, and yet those are the challenges most people are forced to face. “Oh, I managed to survive another day” just does not cut it for most people, and explains so much of the ennui out there.

      • linda

        Hi Mr. Edelen,
        I don’t get it. How does regular life become so boring? What are these people looking for? A James Bond existence? Life doesn’t have to be boring. I know there are responsibilities that some people have that other people will never experience. Poverty and trying to financially survive being one of these responsibilities, I think. Especially if there are children in the family. Some people experience a hard life in North America, but is that boredom? Does this explain what is going on in our generation and times? I don’t think so. There’s something much bigger involved.

        We could be giving ourselves over to a reprobate mind. We may be involved in things (as believers) that we need to stop. Is having an easier lifestyle going to be the answer to our problems in our world and in North America today? I doubt it.

        The answer is Jesus. But many the Bible says will not accept this. I think we have a crisis in our churches of godliness, thanksgiving and faith. We expect the moon today.

        There’s nothing wrong with a quiet and righteous life. It’s a great blessing, but this is not valued in our society or our churches today.

        • Linda,

          We are an entertainment-based culture. How can we NOT fall into complaints when the entertainment stops?

          The problem with youth is a clear one that I have commented on extensively. The history of youth ministry is pegged to one stark reality: The industrial revolution destroyed the family farm. Period. Youth ministry started as a way of reaching young people who left the farm for the factories. When it later became an issue to have children and young teenagers working in dangerous factory work, age limitations came into play and kids were booted from the factories. But by then the damage was done. The family farms were gone; there was nothing to return to. The idea that children were part of the economy of the household had been demolished. Essentially, young people were left with nothing to do, and the adults did that to them. The bored youth exists because we took away their main reason to be. This has been a problem for almost 100 years now.

          Why are we an entertainment-based culture? There’s your answer. The entertainment culture rose in parallel with the rise of purposelessness youth.

          If I should be so bold. I’m not sure we can so easily say that Jesus is the answer to this issue–at least not in entirety. Some of the answer must be in finding a simple way to restore practical value to the lives of young people. They once had it. Their contributions were essential. It’s one reason why large families were a benefit on a farm. But kill the farm and children become a detriment not a help. We simply cannot overlook the societal impact of this or the fact that it is a social problem that a religious response cannot necessarily solve–unless it is Christians who are brainstorming the solutions and enacting them. And even then, the response is not purely a spiritual one.

          • linda

            Hi Mr. Edelen,
            My mother was one of the generation of kids who worked hard on the farm. They were not pleasant memories in her life. The parents worked the kids too hard, denied them much, and rewarded them little for their contributions. At least this was the experience of my mother on her family farm of 7 children. The children were even denied eyeglasses because they cost money. The oldest child didn’t take care of hers, so the other children did not get glasses either.

            I think we’re looking too much to the world for sustance as Christians. We are in the world but not of the world. We have died. A new creation is now ‘us’ as individuals. We don’t just decide this and decide to live it out. We are transformed. Not the work of ourselves, or else Romans says we can boast, “I did this myself” .

            We cannot join forces with the world. This is an uneven partnership. What has light to do with darkness the Bible says. How do the righteous live? They’re depending on God every day. They can make plans. They can get good jobs, but….. if those jobs are compromising them as upright and honest citizens… then in my thought they have to choose. God or their job.

            This is hard but Jesus said ‘now is the time for those who are married to be as though they were not married’. We have to drink of the cup that Jesus drank out of. He was rejected. He was scorned, He was beaten and he was killed.

            That’s what the world will do to believers if they have the opportunity. Social activism may hold the inevitable back for a few years or for a generation. But the inevitable will happen. God is going to destroy the earth and all that is in it. It’s going down in flames. Is this where we as Christians want to put our ‘treasure”? No. We have to be careful. We have to be wise. What is unwise to the world, is perhaps very wise for a Christian. We have to work this out individually. But we need good teaching. We need experiences with God in our daily lives. REAL EXPERIENCES. Where God’s angels speak to us. Where we know that our name is written down in the book of life. We need these kinds of experiences to withstand the onslaught of the devil.

            • Linda,

              The perspective you’re sharing is dangerously close to the “let it all burn” mentality espoused tacitly by dispensationalism. I reject that line because it ignores the very first command of God to Man, which has never been rescinded: Steward the Earth, take dominion, and be fruitful.

              Being “not of this World” means don’t make The System your lord. Period. That doesn’t mean reject everything of the physical realm simply because it is physical. Gnosticism that the early Church fought was that same extreme anti-physical mentality. God HATES that kind of thinking and so should we.

              You wrote: This is hard but Jesus said ‘now is the time for those who are married to be as though they were not married’.

              What does that look like in every day practical living? Does that mean that my wife and I no longer go out on dates? Do we cut all intimacy? What?

              • linda

                Hi Mr. Edelen,
                I think that Adam had this command to take dominion of the earth. He was the first Adam. Another Adam has come from God. We now follow the commands of this God/man, Adam. “Love the Lord God with all your heart, strength and mind and love your neighbour as yourself” The Bible is clear. Follow this command from Jesus and we fulfill every other requirement from by God.

                I’m not meaning to say reject the physical realm. We are here, and we have flesh, and we have needs. God our creator knows this. He knows that we have weaknesses. We came from the dust.

                I think what ‘live as though they were not married’ means make decisions that a person would make if they were not married. God says in the Bible, ‘if we love our family more than him, we are not worthy of Him’. This does not mean abandon your family and have nothing more to do with them. This means that when it’s down to the crunch of faith and belief ‘the world’ or ‘God’, we must choose God. God is the provider, even in the tough decisions we may have to make. We’re not there yet, although some people have been there. There is likely a chance for repentance. A day will come the Bible says when there will be no more offering of repentance accepted by God.

                What does this all mean? We must experience God. If we haven’t experience Him, then we must listen to those that have experienced Him. They have to be doing something reasonably right if they are being truthful about their experiences with God. Are they perfect? No. But, they do have knowledge in some areas that other Christians have to respect and allow.

                The Bible says we must KNOW him if we are to inherit eternal life. Let’s get past the idea that a simple prayer is enough to save a sinner. A changed life, a new man, is what is the evidence of a person’s salvation. Salvation is a hope, not a certainly. It’s nearly a certainty but my belief is we can lose our way with God. How are we then to be brought into eternity? I don’t think under these circumstances that salvation in its’ fullness can happen.

                If we are right in there with the dirty world, where is our separateness, where is our holiness, where is our devotion and love for God? Compromised and perhaps ignored.

  12. Jerome

    Many people (youth included)base their identity on one or more of the following:

    1. “I am what I do.” Life becomes performance based. When we can do stuff successfully, we feel good. When we fail, we get depressed.
    2. “I am what others say about me.” When they say good things, we feel good, when we are criticized, we feel bad. This kind of identity leads to co-dependency and manipulation.
    3. “I am what I have.” Especially big in North America. Got stuff? – you’re the best and the brightest! Got nothing? – Sorry, you are a loser.

    Satan tried these approaches with Jesus during the temptation in the wilderness, Luke 4. Why didn’t it work? Those temptations didn’t appeal to Jesus because He knew who he was; just before this trial, He heard these words in Luke 3:21-22: “This is my dearly loved Son who brings me great joy!”

    The Father-Son-Holy Spirit God calls us to repent of believing Satan’s lies about who we are, and to live out of who we really are – the beloved sons and daughters of God. The transforming love of God will convict us, purify us, and through His life in us, empower us to live a life of love and be the aroma of the Savior Christ in a dying world.

    • Jerome,

      Astute thoughts, and no doubt accurate, but at some point the Church must intersect the world.

      I remember a pastor telling a packed church that it doesn’t matter what you look like or how old you are. That’s not true, though. People have to work. They need jobs. What you look like and how old you are absolutely matter in that world. You either play by those rules or you don’t get in the game. And the cost for not getting in the game is permanent marginalization.

      In the past, Christians could retreat into an idyllic Christian subculture that enabled them to avoid “compromise.” Guess what, though? You can’t expect that retreat anymore. You can’t hide there. Either it has gone to the same rules as the world or else the competition is enormous and there’s no room for you.

      I think that one of the reasons why young people are struggling is an attempt to reconcile what the Church is telling them about “normal” life and how it really is. They have their youth leaders saying it’s OK to be yourself, but the world doesn’t want their individuality. It wants someone who fits the mold. Then young people are confused by the cognitive dissonance.

      And you know, sometimes the world is right about this. Sometimes we do need to conform. The question then becomes, At what point is that conforming pressing you and me into something that doesn’t look like Christ?

      Do I blame the 48-year-old single mom, dying to hold onto her job, when she gets Botox injections to look younger and thus stave off a pink slip for another few years? How can I? Can I blame the company that doesn’t want to hire the morbidly obese girl who feels good about herself but in reality won’t find a job until she loses 200 pounds?

      I think the Church does people a disservice when it tells them something that won’t help them deal with reality. And if the Church doesn’t like that reality, then what is it doing to change it? The problem is, it’s easier to tell that 48-year-old mom that God loves her just as she is than for the Church to get out there and do something about age discrimination. The former won’t cost us anything, but the latter takes on an entire societal assumption and will be vicious and drawn out.

      • Jerome

        I don’t discount what you have said at all. When I see a young man covered in tatoos and piercings, I know that he isn’t likely to have a job in most of America. Possibly he could open a tatoo/piercing shop, but the options are limited. What I was getting at is that people need to know that they are the beloved child of God, and let that truth, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit direct them to actually live and walk AS the children of God. You are are the beloved son or daughter of God, so now, live out of that truth, be transformed by that truth.

        • You know, Jerome, the economy we don’t see may be growing faster than the one we do. Some people who are nontraditional find successful nontraditional jobs. The guy with all the tats and piercings may be making way more money than you or I do. I saw that exact thing when I worked in Silicon Valley. The guy in the Nine Inch Nails T-shirt and Japanese demon tats may be the lead developer at the hottest videogame company.

  13. Claire

    This was very insightful and convicting!
    Thank you,
    I try to make an effort in being a good example to my younger brother, but I just don’t do as well as I could.

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