Over the past few months there have been a lot of blog posts and articles written about why young people - or even young adults - are leaving the church. Those reports say that where the parents are involved more than just a youth minister, the young people will stay involved. Some have said it's because of youth ministers in mega churches focus more on fun than spiritual matters, some say it's things that others have said to them, making them turn away and not come back. Still others say that the church either needs to conform to the people to make them feel better or go the other way and get back to basics. Some would say it has to do with the worship songs - either they don't like the older hymns or the other side who don't like the camp/youth-type songs.
The lists go on and on and on. And some of those facts are very valid and surely may have a part in the large scale of people leaving, but I believe there is one thing that is causing people to leave the church that isn't ever on anyone's list. COMMITMENT. Yes, commitment.
Millions and millions of people who would claim to be "Christian" in the world today don't understand the word commitment and what it really means to be a disciple of Christ. Oh, they want Jesus. They want salvation. But, they just believe it to be a one time commitment (often times within the realm of a prayer they've heard is the "sinner's prayer" that has no scriptural basis of truth at all). They say a prayer and they're done. They are "saved". Then it's, "Okay, let's go on with my life, and I can continue to do as I please!" That's it. That's the whole part of their commitment. Even those who believe that there is more to salvation that just that prayer can do the same thing. They can decide to follow Jesus, confess Him before others, repent of sins, and have their sins washed in baptism, and come out of that "watery grave" (symbolizing Jesus' death and resurrection) to live a new life, yet never once strive to live that new life. It was a one-time, one-day, one-moment commitment, and again, it goes back to the "all about me" mentality. It's a self-centered commitment. One that wants what Jesus can give, SALVATION, but one that lacks the commitment to pick up their cross and follow Him daily.
And, it's not all the fault of the young person. Most likely they were raised in a home that had the same problem with commitment issues. Sports were placed before God and the church. Entertainment and things in the world were focused on more than spiritual matters. They might have "attended" worship services, but it wasn't more than a check off on the "do-to" list. Money was spent on pleasure for the family, but not for helping those in need. In family discussions, the church and spiritual matters weren't talked about. Only things about their busy lives and busy schedules. God's grace, His power and might weren't realized on a daily basis. Sunday, for a few hours a day, was the "Jesus" time, then He was put back on the shelf until the next week. Oh, and that was only if there wasn't something more important going on. And don't forget the comments that happened after worship. The attitudes of the parents and children in regards to the sermon, songs, and Bible classes is very important, as well. Roasted preacher doesn't taste very good and certainly doesn't shed a great light on what we are doing when we worship - praising Our Heavenly Father! And the same goes for the songs.
So what's the cure for this disease? This non-commital problem our society has?
The ONLY cure for it is to be in complete submission to God and Jesus. A submission that denies self and puts others before themselves. The complete surrender of self to Him and His Kingdom. Get the focus off of self and get it where it belongs - to Our Father in Heaven, His Son, Our Savior, and the church - the One He died for! His bride!
Attending worship isn't the only important thing about walking the Christian life, but the attitude a person has about worshipping with his or her brothers in sisters in Christ speaks volumes about their spiritual walk. It also shows a huge example to your children and is a big part of how young people will grow up to think about the family of God. If parents didn't care for it why would the children grow up to care about it? If parents just "sent" their children to Bible class, but didn't go themselves, what kind of example did it show? If parents put other things before God and Jesus, why wouldn't their children do the same? And if parents did talk to their children and ask them questions to make sure they understood spiritual matters, why would children think it matters? And if parents relied on others to be the spiritual foundation for their children, why would they believe children really had a firm foundation? But, eventually those young people are adults and can't use the excuse that they weren't taught. Eventually they must search the scriptures and find truth on their own. Spiritually minded adults can help them in that search, but it is ultimately their choice.
Commitment. It's a real problem. And the busier and busier we get, the more non-commital towards God we get. It's a choice. It's a choice to be committed - or not. God doesn't deal in excuses. He only deals in truth. And the truth is that He wants a totally committed follower.....one who puts Him above self. Always.
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