Posts tagged ministry
My Take on Why Teens Leave Church

Young people are leaving the church in droves and despite our many attempts to keep them, they continue to fall away. Growing up, my church had more than a hundred kids and teens running through its corridors, but today few of them remain in the church. For some time, many concerned Christians have sought to understand the reasons why young people leave the church. I believe that the answer is simple. They leave because they find no relevance in Christianity and most importantly, they have not fallen in love with God.

Christianity lacks relevance for many young people.To them, being a Christian involves nothing more than following senseless rules and participating in church services that are disconnected from their reality. Ask any teen in church about how they perceive Christianity and nine out of ten will most likely describe to you three things: the church service, good behavior, and telling others about Jesus. While none of these things are wrong, in and of themselves they have no relevance. Teens today are faced with multiple obstacles such as drugs, alcohol, pregnancy, self-mutilation, rising divorce rates, promiscuity, homosexuality and abortion among many other things. So the question is, How does the church service empower them to deal with this? What exactly is good behavior? Is it what the Pastor says? Or is it what society accepts? And why tell others about Jesus when our post-modern culture embraces the philosophy that there is no such thing as truth? When Christianity fails to answer these questions and fails to provide direction and practicality to everyday life, teens begin to see it as unessential to life. This sets the stage for disregarding God altogether and embracing the godless culture of the day. “What’s wrong with godless?” They might subconsciously ask, “God was never that important anyways.”

A friend of mine recently told me a story that I believe illustrates this point very well. He had just returned from a mission trip to Malaysia. During the trip he and several other students had preached to the local people. Among the sermons where many interesting topics, but for one student, as interesting as they were, something was missing. In her attempt to express how she felt she asked the question, “What does this have to do with the price of rice?” This question, silly as it may be, underscores the foundational flaw in our Christianity – irrelevance. In order to keep our teens in church we must demonstrate to them that Christianity is applicable to everyday life and that is has the solution to the problems of our lives.

While many teens leave church because they think it is not important, the greatest reason for falling away is that many have simply never fallen in love with God. In the Bible, the apostle John writes, “We love Him because He first loved us.” The idea is simple, Gods love for us awakens in us a love for Him. That love motivates us to have a relationship with Him. However, in the church we often seem more concerned in teaching our young people how to be good church members instead of helping them fall in love with God. For many, upholding the standards of the church is more important than leading young people to experience the love of God. The end result of this model is catastrophic because it fosters a spirit of division between the old and young generations. The old generation assumes the role of “good behavior police” while the young are left to feel incapable of ever living up to the standards imposed on them.

I once knew a pastor who would never speak to the youth. He had no relationship with them whatsoever and the only time he would speak to them was when he was correcting them for dressing inappropriately in church, and in my experience, having hair that was too long. This is a perfect example of trying to force teens in church to look and act like good church members while avoiding relationships with them that help them to experience the love of God.

Without the two foundational principles of relevance and love, young people are set up to fail in the Christian life. As Christians, leading the youth into a love experience with God and demonstrating to them the relevance of Christianity in our world must be our top priorities.

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Pastor Marcos is a millennial Adventist pastor with a passion for Jesus, the narrative of Adventism and the relevancy of the local Adventist church. He pastors in Western Australia where he lives with his wife and children. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram. He also blogs weekly at pomopastor.com
How to Find the Source of Scandalous World-Changing Fire


Allow me to be vulnerable for a moment. I have a love-hate relationship with church. It's not that I am critical, I just get tired of doing the same old thing which leads to the same old nothing all the time. I want to be a part of a church that loves the abandoned, heals the sick, and adopts the rebellious. I long to see the church step out of the box and do new and amazing things for God. I want to see the church reaching the unreachable and making a startling difference in the world. At times we get too caught up in ourselves. The church is meant to be the body of Christ, always reaching and serving the lost. But more often than not, we serve only ourselves. Almost everything in the church often seems geared for one purpose: to make the saints happy. It’s like we have forgotten that the church was never meant to be a resort for us.

So when I got into ministry I told God, “I don’t want to be ordinary. I don’t want to waste my life preaching sermons and preparing programs to make us happy. I want to do new and amazing things for you. I want to step out of my comfort zone where all my pet traditions and cherished customs lie and enter a new and unfamiliar world of impacting something other than myself – the world.”

So I prayed. I prayed a lot. I asked God to show me how to be scandalous for him. I wanted the secret. I wanted to discover the source of the flame that set the early church, the reformers, and the Adventist pioneers on fire. I wanted to tap into that fire so that I could do new, out of the ordinary, wild, and shocking things for God. To borrow Avril Lavigne's words, “I want to be anything but ordinary please”. So I prayed like crazy: “Lord, how can I be scandalous for you? Show me the source of the flame.”

And then one day, as I prayed he answered. And this is what he said. “If you want to do scandalous things for me, you must pursue a scandalous relationship with me.” And then it hit me. I was so dumb. There I was unsatisfied with doing the same old thing for God, and yet I was perfectly satisfied with having the same old relationship with Him. So God burst my bubble and put it to me straight. If you want to do amazing things for me, you must pursue an amazing relationship with me. These 10 minute prayers and 15 minute Bible studies may be OK if you are looking for ordinary; but if you want to go beyond ordinary, if you want to do wild things for me, you must go beyond ordinary in your relationship with me.

I discovered that the source of the flame that lights us up for him is the flame itself. The Bible tells us that God is a consuming fire. He is the flame. He is the source. And if you want to be on fire for him. If you are tired of a dead and dying church. If you want to do amazing things for God and lead the church you love toward a better tomorrow you must go to the source of the flame. It’s not in you. It’s not in your ideas. It’s not even in your efforts. The source of the flame is God – our consuming fire – the flame itself.