photo-1427348693976-99e4aca06bb9Everywhere I turn I see disturbing statistics on the drastic decline of church membership among young people. I hear story after story of good Christian kids falling away from the church – questioning their faith and the God they were taught to believe in.

Just this past Friday, I was talking with a new client who has an incredible counseling and coaching business. Her specialty? Girls between 13 and 30 – and the parents who are trying to successfully navigate those years with them.

She knows first hand this age group – and millennials in particular – will no longer simply do or believe something just because we say, “God said so”.

They want to know it is real…it is trustworthy…it actually has the power to make a difference in their lives. Otherwise – why bother?

They want to be listened to and heard.
They want to talk about real-life stuff and not just sweep it under the rug. Or worse yet – be given some lofty platitude they don’t see being lived out in the lives of those who preach it. (And I’m not talking only about preachers – it is all of us!)

On the heels of that discussion, I show up at church on Sunday and our middle school pastor is giving the sermon.

Instead of the – I’m just standing in for the senior pastor kind of thing – he hits the ground running and goes deep. He nails us – in a spiritual kind of way – with what is really going on in the lives of our kids.

Deep breath.
I love it when the church gets real!

I tell you this to lay the groundwork for what he shared. Statistics and data that I think every parent – grandparent – teen mentor or influencer – needs to know!

He opened with his own story. Raised by Godly parents – came to know Jesus as a teen – sold out and on fire.

Then the day comes when all that changed – abruptly!
His Mom says, “I’m leaving your Dad. I’m quitting.”

Wait just a minute.
God says marriage is a covenant not to be destroyed – no matter what!?!
And now, my Godly parents are just tossing it away?
What is going on – what is going to happen now?

A crisis of faith – a falling away – a questioning of everything he had been taught.

So many kids and young adults are seeing the same thing – not just in the world – but in the church. A place they are told is supposed to be different.

But often is NOT!

That kind of thing creates fear and real stress.
It creates doubt and questions.
And as a result, this generation is the more stressed than ever!

Here’s reality:

The 5 Main Stressors for kids between 13 and 18…

  • 78% stressed out by the school workload and hours required outside class for homework (the average is 3.5 hours per night!?!).
  • 68% are stressed out by their parents – and the #1 thing is hearing their parents constantly arguing – followed by nit-picky nagging.
  • 64% stressed out by friends (especially feeling like an outsider or not having any good friends they can count on ).
  • 64% stressed by romantic relationships – and yes – it starts as early as 13. And by 16 – 71% have had some level of sexual interaction!
  • 64% struggle with some level of use of drugs and/or alcohol. Using to find a way to relieve the stress.

So – there it is!

I don’t usually use this blog as a place to stir things up…but a generation is being lost.

We need to find ways to reach this generation.
To stop wagging our fingers in judgment or simply telling them to believe ‘because”.

We need to get real.
Find ways for the church to connect.

Provide safe people and places to have real conversations…connect them with real truth…and learn to walk in it ourselves.

I don’t know all the details of our pastors story – but he found his way back home. I know it included reconciliation and the truth of God’s word.

And I sure don’t know all the answers either.

But I do know it will require young men like this – who have walked this road – who are willing to share their story – who are not afraid to get real and lay it all out there – while pointing to the God who restored his faith.

Not only that, I believe it is also going to depend on the rest of us walking our talk – loving our children and young adults into the arms of Christ – and letting the Holy Spirit do the rest!

What say you???

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