Dysfunction, would be my answer to the question of “Why do young people leave the church?”. In so many respects the local body of Christ is dysfunctional. Young people want to get away from something they see as dysfunctional. Think about it, many young people distance themselves from their families to distance themselves from the dysfunction. They go elsewhere to seek a new way of looking at life and to start fresh.
It is not the Lord’s plan for the body to be dysfunctional, to the contrary the body is to be unified and solid. The body of Christ is to be a place of nurturance. That is how the body of Christ (the church) is set up. The problem we run in to is that the body is filled with imperfect people that sometimes come across as “im-perfect” people. At least that is the perception of many young people. They see the body as exclusionary. “Unless you’re just like me, you’re wrong”.
I think many are searching for the real church, the church based on being a disciple of Christ. They don’t want to be a part of just another institutionalized group based on man’s interpretation of God’s intentions. I think they want to see Jesus modeled in the leadership and their teachings, like the first century church saw in the Apostles.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:18-20 ESV Jesus sent out his Apostles to make disciples for him, those that would be baptized and follow in Jesus teachings as they had been passed down by the Apostles. They weren’t to make disciples of a church, but disciples of Jesus the Christ.
They were to be a called out body of believers (the church), a people that were to be Christlike. They were to be called out of sin, religious and worldly influence and come under the influence of Jesus and all that he taught. We must ask ourselves as a body of believers if we are truly following the teaching of Jesus and his apostles. Or are we spending more time arguing and fault finding?
If we want the young people to stay we must look to Jesus as our example of what it means to be in good relationships with both God and people and pursue that. When the body functions as it should it is healthy and viable. Jesus and his approach to his Father and to others attracted people. “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Romans 14:19 ESV
© 2014 Leo J. Woodman