It’s the end of the Church as we know it, and they (youth) feel fine.
The Western church is an inconsequential place in the life of many students. The research from the NSYR (National Study of Youth and Religion) points to this fact. Is it true? The Church has become a destination or a building. “I’m going to church.” Church is also the event happening at the building—worship, youth group, etc. Students’ attitudes towards church are impacted by their parents’ lived out ecclesiology. The church has a branding problem within society where it is treated as inconsequential until an emergency (9/11) or during an election year.
The Western church’s ecclesiological context is declining. South America and Africa are exploding with liberation and charismatic theology. In those contexts there is a communal empowerment that the Western church by and large doesn’t have. For a variety of reasons—including fill in the blank sermons and vertical worship songs—we gather as a community to worship individually, not as the body of Christ.
As Andy Root has pointed out, church is something that students consume, they gather what they need and they put it into their backpacks, without any consequential changes or ramifications to their lives or future consumptions.
We also recognize the society’s dismissal of the authority and especially the authority the church still attempts to practice. Young people struggle with authority which contributes to the undermining of theologies that are the foundation of the Christian faith.
We simply don’t have a theology of the body of Christ that is vibrant enough so that we can be the church in the world instead of a country club.
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