Perhaps it due to the nature of the blogs I follow, or perhaps it is because of my own discontent, but I sense a growing dissatisfaction with the organized church. As evidence I would point to the Barna statistics that show that 6 out of 10 young people walk away from the church; many of them never return. I read some verses that seem to speak to this issue. In 1 Corinthians 3:10-13, Paul is writing about the foundation on which he builds and the quality of the work and the materials used to build upon that foundation. He writes:
According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. (NASB)
The first thing to notice is the foundation on which Paul builds. That foundation is Jesus Christ. Anything that does not point to or is built upon the relationship with Jesus Christ is not built on a solid foundation.
The question for church leaders is whether or not the activities of the church deepen the relationship with Jesus. Any activitiy that does not is not built upon a solid foundation.
The second point is that what is built upon the foundation needs to be made of material that will stand the test. Wood, hay and straw will be consumed, while gold silver and precious stones will last. Are we building into the lives of our members such that their relationship with Christ is strengthened and deepened or are we merely treading water?
Do we have a structure in place that allows for training members in the foundational truths of Scripture? Are we teaching men and women how to read Scripture in context and understand how to apply it? Are we providing a forum where doubts and questions can be addressed? Do we have a safe environment for doubters to seek answers? In short, are we making disciples (root meaning learner) or are we making conformists? There is a large difference.
In addition to this type of training, do we as parents and church leaders model the life of a disciple? Can we be found studying Scripture? Do we honestly wrestle with how Scripture should be applied in our lives? Do we respond in obedience when Scripture brings conviction on an issue? Does the next generation look at us and see something that they want to emulate?
With 60% of young people leaving the church, it would appear that the church as a whole can use a lot of improvement in these areas. The good news is that there are individuals and churches that are doing well with these issues and there are organizations who seek to train people to be excellent disciple makers.
I thank God that when I left for college, He brought men into my life that could point me toward the answers I sought. It is my hope that my generation can begin to do better at living out the gospel and training the next generation to do so.
We cannot sit back and rest thinking that we are on a good path. A 60% failure rate is unacceptable in any endeavor, especially when an eternal destiny is on the line.