Our direction, choices, future, actions, and entire lives are affected by what we believe. In that past three years I have made a discovery which I believe has, and will, change the face of what Christianity looks like in the western world forever. That is quite a bold statement, but I am making it anyway.
The majority of our young christian leaders, and those presently in training for full time ministry, in North America do not believe in the institutional church. They do not like it, do not necessarily want to be a part of it, do not enjoy it, and wish they could live out their Christian ministry in some other form.
What should be concerning to those in the institutional church (including myself) is that this is coming from those on the inside. As I have been sharing at Bible Schools, Seminaries, Youth and Young Adult Minister and Leaders events, I have been asking these questions; ‘Who likes going to church?’ ‘If you were not being paid by your church would you attend?’ For future leaders in training I have also been asking, ‘How many of you want to go and work in a church like the one you came from? Plus a few variations of these questions.
In every case, when I have done this (now in several countries) I have found that vast majority (over ninety percent) say they do not like it. They do not agree with the structure or form. They would not be attending if they weren’t paid. For young leaders in training, almost all say that they do not want to work in a church like the one they grew up in. Again, this generation of young leaders does not believe in the institutional church.
To be clear this does not mean that they do not believe in the Church. In fact there is a longing for authentic faith and community. I don’t even believe this is a bad thing. In fact maybe God is behind it all. However, no matter what I believe, it is, and will, cause a crisis in tens of thousands of churches across many countries. If those leading do not believe, people will not stay. Without vision death is not far behind.
We may actually have a generation which is going to lead the next generation out of many established churches. It will be the end of many institutions, but not the end of the Church. I would agree with many present leaders who say we are entering into a the next great reformation. It will be the beginning of what is needed to reach and disciple the next generations.
It is incredibly exciting to think of what a living, moving, expanding Church caught up in living out the Kingdom of God looks like and will achieve. It is difficult to imagine the death of many things that mean so much to us also.
‘What do you believe?‘ Are you leading people out of your church? It is a difficult place to be when you are leading in a church but do not want to be there yourself. In the end you either need to get behind the vision of that local church, help shape it, or you need to leave yourself and lead people into the vision you have. However, to not believe and lead works for no one.
This quote was on Andy Stanley’s twitter, ‘If u want your kids to abandon church when they are older, force them to attend a church u secretly wish u could abandon now!’ It is totally true. If you are wondering why others, especially youth are leaving, you have to look inside first.