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"You Lost Me" Sparks Ideas To Help A Hurting Generation,
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This review is from: You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church...and Rethinking Faith (Hardcover)
Chances are you know about The Great Departure: Christian youth leaving the church. It's the very reason why I wrote a book to help Millennials follow Jesus without leaving the church: Called to Stay: An Uncompromising Mission to Save Your Church. Anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of professing believers are going to walk away from their faith by their twenties.
So how are parents, pastors and youth workers/mentors supposed to counter this?
David Kinnaman's You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church...and Rethinking Faith explores this very question and sparks ideas as to how we can help young people own their faith. He also takes a look at how this generation is "discontinuously different" from all others before it, and why this fact is important to understand.
Below I've listed: 1) key definitions; 2) what to expect inside the book; and 3) a sampling of the nuggets I took away from it.
' Key definitions from Kinnaman:
...Nomads: They walk away from church engagement but still consider themselves Christians.
...Prodigals: They lose their faith, describing themselves as "no longer Christian."
...Exiles: They are still invested in their Christian faith but feel stuck (or lost) between culture and the church.
' Now, what to expect as you crack open You Lost Me:
'PART 1: Dropouts
2--Access, Alienation, Authority
3--Nomads and Prodigals
'PART 2: Disconnections
'PART 3: Reconnections
12--What's Old Is New
13--Fifty Ideas to Find a Generation
Throughout the book, I jotted down notes that really got me thinking about how to effectively help this generation follow Jesus. Here are just a few of the nuggets I took away:
Get young people involved in Scripture reading, praying, worshiping, and giving their testimonies; let them join the dialogue at church; lead them in visiting the sick and shut-ins; be a mentor to a young person at church; connect spiritual wisdom with real world knowledge; don't ignore science; show them how to live "in but not of" lives; and teach them how to think well, not what to think.
If you haven't already, I'd also suggest picking up Kinnaman's book Unchristian. Another great read along these same lines is Gabe Lyons' The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America. All of them are excellent resources in our ongoing battle of raising young men and women to love God and others.
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Showing 1-10 of 23 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 21, 2012 10:29:25 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 21, 2012 10:30:48 AM PST
F. Ramos says:
Great review Caleb,
However, I would be careful in being alarmist about the situation since the problem is not that big if you take into consideration multiple generational data. Young people are known to be more secular (they have more illusions about life, they have more hormones influencing their behavior and sex drive, etc.) but as time goes by they settle down and return to what they planned to do - go to church again. For example, the church attendance of the youth has been about the same since the 1970s.
Here are some academic resources that investigate the situation in excellent detail:
Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites...and Other Lies You've Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media
Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults
American Religion: Contemporary Trends
These should provide an excellent review of findings from the best sociological research.
Posted on Feb 11, 2012 2:02:48 AM PST
J. Wissick says:
That 60-80% are leaving is very encouraging that there is hope for this country.
Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free is a good companion book to this review. It explains what is wrong with the church and America in general right now. The church isn't at war with science or evolution or the like. No, the church is at war with expertise. They can't deal with the fact they don't have all the answers and experts do.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 10:37:12 PM PST
Hey there, Mr. F Ramos.
I really appreciate your contribution to the conversation. I picked up two of the books you recommended. I'm all for knowledge and more voices on subjects!
I would like to send this thought back to you: those people who settle down and return to what they planned to do, are you sold that they're on fire for Jesus and the Word? I'm more of the mind that they've forgotten their first love. That they go to church because it's the right thing to do ... and that's it. Kind of a stamped-and-approved Christianity. And this, I believe, is a big problem.
This generation may not be statistically different than generations before. But this generation is very, very different. Never before has there been a generation that so craves for realness, relationship, and community. And that's exactly what the Body should be. But we the church have *generally* sold a tightly-wrapped Christianity that would rather say "fine" than be real, rather talk about the weather than what Jesus is doing within, and rather "fellowship" at the Superbowl party than gather around a big table and discus the crazy hard questions and aspects of life that each of us face (or will face). This, too, is a big problem.
The first problem (stamped-and-approved Christianity) leads to the second problem (a broken Body). Therefore, I believe the first problem-the root, if you will-needs great attention and discipleship. That's why I support books like this one and try to invest in every young soul I come across.
Research is great. I don't know what I'd do without it. But when it comes to this research, I guess I'm an alarmist because, whether or not people believe this generation is any different from those before it, the Body is hurting. Badly. And to do nothing about it, especially at the root level of young adults, is just tragic.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 18, 2012 6:19:45 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 18, 2012 6:37:20 PM PST
F. Ramos says:
Good to hear your thoughts on these issues. They are indeed important.
Concerning your first thought: The people who return to the church at a later age are probably not "on Fire" for Jesus, but they become quite committed to their churches and perhaps begin do what they should have done earlier in life. It is well known fact in sociology of religion that older people are more "religious" than younger people.
I do not think this generation is qualitatively different than any other previous generation. Perhaps you think that this generation "craves for realness, relationship, and community", but this is an ancient human longing for belonging that all human communities have had. The Body of Christ has never been a unified whole. Even in the New Testament you find clashes of perspectives, cultures, and communities (Romans, Greeks, etc.).
Granted that though people today do speak often about worldly issues such as sports more so than they talk about what god has done in their lives, I am not convinced that people in the past were any different. Look at Medieval Europe for instance, most people were not able to read and the sermons they heard represented a small part of their lives. Is it safe to say that they were the Bible thumping type or even apologists in general? Not really. Most never had the chance to read the Bible at all so they presumable would not be quoting scripture to others nor would they have much of any theological discussions. They also would not be talking about the hard questions of life since their world was not a global one like today where we are often flooded with competing worldviews via television and the internet.
People in the past were simply no more "religious" than people are today.
I did not mean to label you as an "alarmist", but we should be careful on how we describe a problem to others. By telling people that many are leaving the church without telling them that many will return at a later age, is to misinform people of the issues and to disappoint others for no good reason. "The sky is falling" alarmism will push people away more because they see that people are worrying for no good reason or that they are nuts. Actually, "Souls in Transition" and also Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood will shed lots of light on the youth today. Actually Finding Faith, Losing Faith: Stories of Conversion and Apostasy and Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion may give you a good glimpse why some get pushed away and why some come in to the church.
When books argue that things are way different than they used to be, you have to take them with a grain of salt because every generation thinks that the newer generations are not as good as theirs. Read some historical sourcebooks like Women in Early Christianity: Translations from Greek Texts to see that people in the past may not be so different from us today - we just have more to deal with in terms of propaganda and advertisements. This may make us more "indifferent" to certain things.
I agree that we should try to help the youth engage in issues that matter in life, but I think the best way to approach this is by teaching them critical thinking skills and encouraging them to research things out.
Just a few thoughts.
- God Bless and keep up the good work.
Posted on Feb 19, 2012 10:27:55 AM PST
Giles Bayer says:
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 14, 2012 3:23:29 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 14, 2012 3:32:57 PM PDT
Victoria M. Wall says:
Easy to love Caleb!
Love your review and responses
March 10 1971 - God intervened dramatically - a rescue - so I did not hang myself on the 12th . . . committing to Christ Jesus - doing my best at obedience - the church has been afflicted with an ongoing auto immune condition . . . I have written a short prose called `Cotton Candy Christians"
Another book I am reading now - Indivisible is written by a Catholic and Evangelical (James Robinson) - I am only 25% through it- but there is a 'unity' appeal - from polar opposite arenas . . . the hope is to rally what made America - the beautiful . . . that is sorta shady now
My heritage is Roman Catholic in a military environment, I have roughly 35 years invested (as best I am able) in evangelical Christianity - I have You Lost Me on CD and will eventually get it on paper (hmmmmm are you interested in selling yours for less than any of the listed??) I wrote a short book on love - short and simple- but there is NOTHING easy about simple. Biggest gaping hole from my years invested is the commission Jesus gave regarding love - they will know you are mine because you love each other (paraphrase) your words "fellowship" at the Superbowl party than gather around a big table and discus the crazy hard questions and aspects of life" Caleb - I am so with you!
Tragically the passion of loving one another is - oh so unusual, but here and there I do experience that love that reflects the Great Lover. (Do you know anything about Korean Christians? Largest church in the world is Korean - Koreans have the highest missionary ratio per capita - currently God has called me to a Korean church - muscle is what a heart is made of - small but quite core to a body!)
Tragically - most of those I know investing in 'church' it is a social club . . . holiness is not in the equation - greasy grace is a theology allowing a pass on obedience - anyway - consequences of compromise is what our country suffers today - you do know America has been known as the great experiment in its first 100 years - when holiness - did not mean a culture full of holes . . . the wattage of our call to be the light of the world . . . my prayer is to be a laser! Darkness can be an opportunity
Beloved, Be Love
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 15, 2012 9:54:58 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 15, 2012 11:34:00 PM PDT
Hey Mr. Ramos,
I agree: Excellent ping-pong here. I'm going to break this up into chunks to make it easier on the eyes. =D
RAMOS: "Concerning your first thought: The people who return to the church at a later age are probably not "on Fire" for Jesus, but they become quite committed to their churches and perhaps begin do what they should have done earlier in life. It is well known fact in sociology of religion that older people are more "religious" than younger people."
ME: Before I take this particular response further, I'd like to step back and say this: We might simply be mincing words. "On fire" might mean something different to me than it does to you, and "committed to their church" and "more religious" might mean something different to you than it does to me. In fact, I bet this is the case. See, to me, commitment to the church and being religious means very little if you're not on fire for the King. So I'll tie this off for now because we both might be saying the same thing! (But please clarify if I'm missing your point).
RAMOS: "I do not think this generation is qualitatively different than any other previous generation. Perhaps you think that this generation "craves for realness, relationship, and community", but this is an ancient human longing for belonging that all human communities have had."
ME: I certainly agree that the need for realness, relationship, and community is ancient. Here's the thing, though: No generation has grown up connected to the world by the second, via texting, Facebooking, Tweeting, Google; no generation has had access to other people through technologies like the iPad, iPhone, iTouch and so on; and no other generation has faced the world we're giving these young people. This generation is, in my opinion, facing the greatest change EVER. And here's the thing with young people today: When you're connected every second of every day on a VERY surface-y level-wide but not deep- the gap between surface-y and realness quadruples. Same goes for relationships, same goes for community.
No generation has faced the gap that this generation is facing right now. They crave realness, relationship and community more than ever because the gap is far greater than it's ever been.
RAMOS: "Granted that though people today do speak often about worldly issues such as sports more so than they talk about what god has done in their lives, I am not convinced that people in the past were any different. Look at Medieval Europe for instance, most people were not able to read and the sermons they heard represented a small part of their lives. Is it safe to say that they were the Bible thumping type or even apologists in general? Not really. Most never had the chance to read the Bible at all so they presumable would not be quoting scripture to others nor would they have much of any theological discussions. They also would not be talking about the hard questions of life since their world was not a global one like today where we are often flooded with competing worldviews via television and the internet."
ME: Good observations. I've never thought of that historical parallel. Let me toss this back: The core of what I'm saying in the comment above is that, today, believers tend to live "the Christian life" without much true Christianity. In other words, we tend to live how we want to live and not how Christ has shown us to live (even if we're good church attenders). Through this light, the situation of Medieval Europe isn't all that different from our situation today. Hearing sermons and reading Scripture or not, it still comes down to 'my way' or "Christ's way." Talking theology and life's hard questions or not, it still comes down to our way or Christ's way. So, basically, you just have to fill in "our way" with whatever the culture was back in Medieval Europe.
Also, I'm not so sure that the hard questions of life go away just because there are no competing worldviews via TV and Internet. Obviously I'm no historian (I got bad grades in history! =D ), but I would think that where Christ's Word is taught, there will be lots of hard questions.
RAMOS: "I did not mean to label you as an "alarmist", but we should be careful on how we describe a problem to others. By telling people that many are leaving the church without telling them that many will return at a later age, is to misinform people of the issues and to disappoint others for no good reason. "The sky is falling" alarmism will push people away more because they see that people are worrying for no good reason or that they are nuts."
ME: No offense taken, brother! I think this is an area where we disagree, slightly. See, because I believe many of the people coming back to the church in their later years are, for the most part, lukewarm, I see them as an extension of the core problem of young people leaving-not some sort of balance to the problem. They come back to church in their thirties or forties not on fire for Jesus, but because "it's the right thing to do" ... sort of a "paying my dues to God, get my ticket to heaven" Christianity. In other words, it's lukewarm Christianity. And God is not pleased with lukewarmness. (This is, of course, generalization; there are many genuine believers who return, I just think it's few and far in between).
So is it really misinforming people when I leave out the fact that these 60-80 percent *might* come back to the church and, generally, live lifestyles that are not pleasing to God? (i.e. Lukewarm). I am inclined to say no. If I wanted to be totally informative, I might say something like this: "Sixty to eighty percent of Christian young people are going to turn their back on God before graduation. A certain amount of these 60-80 percent will then come back to the church 10-20 years down the road and live a religious life that is, for the most part, stripped of the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit" (i.e. Symptoms of lukewarmness).
The picture of 60-80 percent leaving the church is a gloomy picture. But I don't think the added detail of some of them returning to live a passionless life before their King ... is much better than gloom. I truly believe that I'm worried for GOOD reason. And as far as people thinking I'm nuts? Too late. =D
RAMOS: "I agree that we should try to help the youth engage in issues that matter in life, but I think the best way to approach this is by teaching them critical thinking skills and encouraging them to research things out."
ME: We certainly agree that we should help young people engage in issues that matter in life. As far as critical thinking skills go? Yes, I think those are very important. Research is also good. However, critical thinking and research is all done in our own intellect, our mind, our power. Alone, critical thinking and research lead to head knowledge. This is why I believe the best thing to teach young people is taking ownership of their faith. That's what I strive to lead them to at my website, JesusConfidential (dot) com.
I'm not saying that critical thinking and faith need to be separate; I'm saying that faith must come before critical thinking in a Christian's life. Because critical thinking before faith chokes faith (i.e. Can you imagine if David thought critically before going out to face Goliath? But instead he went out to face the giant on faith, and THEN he thought critically by picking up five stones, not one).
God bless YOU, Mr. Ramos, for such a good conversation. Your words here are helping to refine me, and I hope some of mine have helped you as well. Many, many blessings, my Brother in Christ.
Caleb Jennings Breakey
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2012 4:19:52 PM PDT
Wow, what a story you have, Victoria. And I'm totally tracking with you about that love that reflects the Great Lover. Most Christians tend to think it's in every church, wherever the word 'love' is used. But when you see it for the first time, it just pops with clarity and you think: "I've been missing it. I've been missing Christ's kind of love."
Much grace and peace to you today, sister!
Posted on Apr 13, 2012 11:54:00 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 13, 2012 11:54:45 AM PDT
Helpful review, Caleb. What would you make of the the many younger people (20s) in the Reformed realm returning to the church? I have seen articles about this in several places (though I can't attest to this actual returning being a fact). But in general, with exceptions like Tim Keller's church, my knee-jerk reaction from places I have lived is that those under 30 see the church as anti-intellectual and some of the books that get the big notices like Osteen don't really help that situation.
Posted on Jun 16, 2012 8:43:42 AM PDT
ne mo says:
After years of studying the Bible, there is just no knowledge in the church. So-called 'Christian' leaders like Franklin Graham are preaching things that Christ never said. A whole generation has decided that money is the root of good and that the poor deserve to suffer. This is why people leave the church, and it can't be fixed. Jesus didn't enforce the Sabbath and didn't lead a church, he rioted against greed in the temple. Perhaps the young finally are becoming Christians in the real sense of the word, instead of the pharisees and hypocrites that American 'Christians' have become.
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