Stacia Datskovska desires to depart her church. The 15-year-old from Northern Virginia finds it chilly, alienating, and—worst of all—too conventional. She has concepts for reform, summarized within the title of her current USA As we speak opinion piece: “Churches could win back teens like me if they were more welcoming and less judgmental.”
Her story isn’t an anomaly; it’s the norm. In keeping with a examine from LifeWay Analysis, 66 p.c of American younger adults who attended a Protestant church recurrently for at the very least a 12 months as an adolescent say in addition they dropped out for at the very least a 12 months between the ages of 18 and 22.
These statistics are staggering and heartbreaking. Of their wake, church buildings are asking, “What did we do wrong?” There may be knowledge and humility in asking this query, and I’m grateful we do. However what about what went proper? What concerning the different 33 p.c, the teenagers who keep? What if we examined their lives and requested, “What did work?” Maybe then dad and mom and pastors may lead with much less concern and extra religion, optimism, and hope.
That’s why it’s a pleasure to commend David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock’s new e book, Religion for Exiles: 5 Methods for a New Technology to Comply with Jesus in Digital Babylon. These authors (skilled researchers and anxious dad and mom themselves) studied greater than 1,000 younger adults who remained of their religion all through highschool and past. They discovered these “resilient disciples” all shared a number of vital traits. This e book unpacks these traits, 5 sensible methods for contemporary discipleship to offer dad and mom, pastors, and youth employees with an optimistic but practical have a look at the resilient disciples of my era—and the way we are able to make extra of them.
Residing in Digital Babylon
The underside line is that teenagers right this moment have to be discipled otherwise than they’ve been up to now. We dwell in a post-Christian, digital age and, as Kinnaman and Matlock level out: “We are the first generation of humans who cannot rely on the earned wisdom of previous generations to help us live with these rapid technological changes” (25). And so the individuals at Barna “have adopted a phrase to explain our accelerated, advanced tradition that’s marked by phenomenal entry, profound alienation, and a disaster of authority: digital Babylon” (19).
Discipling teenagers means understanding the tradition we inhabit and coaching them to deal with its explicit challenges and crises. Listed here are Kinnaman and Matlock’s 5 methods for a brand new era to comply with Jesus:
1. ‘To form a resilient identity, experience intimacy with Jesus.’
Technology Z goes by means of an id disaster, and we’re searching for solutions. Tradition tells us to look inside, to seek out hope in expressive individualism. What we’d like as a substitute is Jesus—however not the Jesus “brand experience” so many church buildings provide right this moment. My era wants “a transformational experience to find their identity in the person and work of Jesus” (50).
2. ‘In a complex and anxious age, develop the muscles of cultural discernment.’
We dwell within the age of knowledge, the place many teenagers are discipled by the web. It’s of utmost significance that we get Technology Z concerned in “a robust learning community under the authority of the Bible in order to wisely navigate an accelerated, complex culture” (69).
3. ‘When isolation and mistrust are the norms, forge meaningful, intergenerational relationships.’
Amid church scandals and an more and more individualized tradition, many teenagers view the church with skepticism. It is a important time for church buildings to construct relationships with my era, to be weak, to concentrate to feelings, to assist younger individuals determine religion champions, and to appreciate the essential function of mentors.
As Kinnaman and Matlock clarify, “Disparate life experiences lead generations to dismiss and devalue another. But the church must be the place we give no quarter to that destructive thinking. We need one another to get on with our mission” (184).
4. ‘To ground and motivate an ambitious generation, train for vocational discipleship.’
Instructing our youngsters theology is essential. However so is educating them how that theology works out of their lives and futures. As Technology Z enters the workforce, Kinnaman and Matolock imagine church buildings have a key accountability in offering vocational discipleship, which they outline as “knowing and living God’s calling, especially in the arena of work, and right-sizing our ambitions to God’s purposes” (143).
5. ‘Curb entitlement and self-centered tendencies by engaging in countercultural mission.’
From toddler to teen, the world preaches self-worship to our youngsters—not that their naturally sinful hearts want a lot encouragement. However we have to encourage our youngsters to pursue selflessness as a substitute, as they insurgent in opposition to society’s norms and discover pleasure in Jesus’s mission, which is strictly what the resilient disciples of Technology Z are doing.
Hope for the World
In an age when many dad and mom are fretting and fearful about what not to do, this e book is a welcome useful resource that provides dad and mom optimism and inspiration. In the midst of scripting this e book, each Kinnaman and Matlock dropped off their oldest daughters in school, strolling away with all of the fears, insecurities, and worries of a mum or dad. This solely makes their analysis and phrases extra private and compelling.
I’d gladly suggest this e book to oldsters. Be ready to be challenged by the truth that discipleship is difficult work. It’ll take time to speak the gospel to your children, have interaction their tough questions, wrestle with their doubts, hearken to their fears, and labor to grasp their world.
As everyone knows, there may be a lot trigger for concern amongst my era. However as Kinnaman and Matlock remind us, there may be additionally a lot trigger for hope. Even in a post-Christian world, there are resilient disciples. Jesus will maintain these disciples in my era quick, and we’ll comply with wherever he leads. We’ll serve and love and lead his church. We’ll go on our religion to the subsequent era.
As we rightly grieve friends who abandon the religion, might we not neglect to rejoice in our religion, simply because the apostle Paul did (2 Tim. 1:5–7; Col. 2:5).