Why are younger people, no matter what generation they are (X, Y, Z), leaving church? They are becoming inoculated to the faith rather than indoctrinated into the faith. This is a saying that I heard years ago, but I thought about it in a new light recently in a conversation I had with my wife.
When someone gets an inoculation, they receive a dead (or significantly weakened) version of the real virus to help the body fight off the real infection. Our youth have received a dead (or significantly weakened) version of the faith in our churches. They have turned their backs on those false versions of Christianity, and in so doing they have had just enough of the religious talk and culture to resist the real thing.
Every once in a while, though, even when someone has had an inoculation, they can still contract what they got the shot for. It has to be a particularly strong version, or a slightly different version, and the body will not defend itself.
If we are to counteract the weak or dead versions of the faith we have given our youth for the last twenty plus years, we have to have a particularly strong version of the faith that will break through their defenses. We have to be converted again and know the presence and power of God once again in our own lives. We have to have a living faith that continually transforms us from grace to grace and glory to glory. And we have to be willing to share our transformation with our children. If the only example of the faith they have is a story from long ago and a moral code that is reinforced on Sunday mornings, they will never know the living faith, the Good News.
God wants us to have his power in this life–a power to overcome the evils around us. God wants us to have a life full of significance. God wants us to transform the world. Christian life is exciting. It is an adventure.
And unfortunately, all to often we have presented it as a list of “don’ts.” There is an old joke that Puritanism is the fear that someone, somewhere is having fun. Too many of our churches have bought into this mentality of what the faith is. This is a lie.
Jesus sent his followers around the world. They encountered new cultures and people groups. They interpreted the faith for these groups so they could have indigenous expressions of the faith. These followers performed miracles and were led places they never knew existed, let alone dreamed of visiting. Kingdoms rose and fell, nations were transformed, and Jesus’ followers continued on their mission. Uncharted territories were discovered and Jesus’ followers were right there. Scientific advancement progressed, and Jesus’ followers were right there. Disenfranchised people were welcomed, and Jesus’ followers were right there.
We are a part of a movement that has been in existence for 2000 years, despite the efforts of many different nations and groups throughout history, and we keep going. God has given us the ability to be transformed within ourselves to have a life of meaning and power, and share the Good News of that transformation with others.
This is the only kind of faith that can overpower a dead religion and bring life back to those who have drifted away.