This is the kind of post that could get me in a lot of trouble, but I have to speak my mind and tell it how it is. It should be an alarming to note that nearly 60% children over the age of 15 disconnect from the church. In an article by Barna Group, David Kinnamen, the nations leading Christian statistical analysis group has shown six reasons why the youth is leaving the church .
1. Churches seem over-protective
2. Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
3. Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
4. Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
5. They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
6. The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
This clearly shows a lack of leadership on the part of the youth ministers, but a much deeper problem is that as a response, many churches are taking the 180 degree approach and giving into every aspect of culture. In the process, they have become merely good will groups instead of anything to do with the Bible or Yeshua.
I believe part of the solution would be to start teaching the youth how to defend the faith. In the process, I believe not only will the kids grow spiritually, but there will be an intellectual backdrop to the reasons why Yeshua is the truth. I am simply appalled at why churches don’t include this aspect into their programs.
Now here’s where I can get into trouble. As I learn more about the Scriptures and as my thirst for the truth grows with every piece of knowledge I gain, it becomes increasingly difficult to internalize my thoughts and emotions. As I walked into the youth ministry building where I serve as a sound/video tech, I couldn’t help but get emotional about what I was seeing. If you are reading this post, you’re most likely someone who understands the significance of the first image here:
(A shoe left behind bearing the logo “Osiris”)
The significance of the Monster drink is something I learned recently from Rob Skiba. The sixth letter in the Hebrew alphabet is “רְ” and it is pronounced ”Vav.” Like every Hebrew letter, it has multiple meanings as well as a number associated with it. Vav means “join, nail, establish, secure, attach, man, mans number (created on the 6th day).” The number associated with Vav is 6. Thus, the symbol of the Moster drink represents “666.” Thanks to Mr.Skiba, I can no longer indulge in my energy drinks. Just one more thing I have to lean on Yeshua for.
This last one is what might really blow my cover (not that I’m trying to be discreet about all of this). A few weeks ago for the end of the school year, the ministry decided to have an “under grad night” party. This was in response to all the high schools having their graduation nights where all the seniors go somewhere over night and celebrate. As part of the festivities…well you can read it for yourself on their advertisement for the evening:
“There’s gonna be a GIANT bonfire for you to burn your school work while laughing in slow motion like this: Muah haha Muah haha”
Now, I get that they are trying to pull kids into the event. Perhaps kids that may otherwise never come to church. But isn’t this the core of the problem? To me this kind of invitation screams, “Look secular world, we are cool enough to hang with you guys…” It’s also a tell tale sign of the mentality of our youth. They don’t value education in the same way even a generation ago did. It’s simply a burden. Well, this is a picture from the event.
(Shirtless pastor holding up the torch getting ready to burn the Homework while kids cheer on)
There was only one image that came to mind as I saw this picture…
(Cremation of Care ceremony at Bohemian Grove)
At least the Bohemian Grove people are wearing robes. My response? Tears. I point these things out not to be judgmental, legalistic or even suggest that I am somehow more righteous. I sincerely have concerns. But due to my position in this particular church, I have to keep my mouth shut. And even if I spoke out on these things, I don’t think anything will change. I would simply be sucked into the political games that any large organization plays.
The bottom line is that neither the kids, nor the leaders know what they are doing. It goes back to the whole argument I always hear when I bring these things up…”As long as your heart is in the right place…” Is that true? I can’t answer for sure. I know God is a merciful God. But in my mind, I want to do all that I can to please God and burning homework, running around with shoes that bear the name Osiris, sell drinks that bear the number 666 and a host of other atrocities that I didn’t even mention (Like today, playing a game called “Dance your clothes off”) is not the way to please God. The examples I see in the Bible with folks like Daniel, not giving into the cultural norm, or when Deuteronomy 12:31 says “You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates..” indicate to me that there IS a reason why God doesn’t want us to indulge in certain activities, no matter where our hearts are. Am I wrong about this? Am I freaking out over nothing?
To continue through Matthew 24, we just got through the various elements that we should expect to see before the end. What I haven’t mentioned is that many of those things that Yeshua speaks about from Matthew 24:4-8 are an exact match to the seals we find in Revelation. But that’s for a future study. Here is what Matthew 24:9 says:
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.”
This verse is pretty self explanatory. It is also a verse that seems to be being fulfilled today. Many people all around the world are losing their lives unwilling to compromise their faith. I believe we are merely on the precipice of such things happening in America. While something major has to happen before it becomes a reality, the rise of secularism in this post-modern milieu is only building the foundation for such things to occur.
What this verse also does is in some ways throw a wrinkle in the pre-tribulation argument that the church will be taken out before the Antichrist’s reign. In order to make verses like these fit, they have to say the world wide persecution of Christians is only going to happen to those who come to the faith after the rapture.
As it relates to the first half of this post, I wonder if preaching the true Gospel message of Yeshua is not going to have me seen as some kind of fundamental old fashioned religious bigot of some kind. The irony for me is that I am not even 30 years old! Why is it that someone like myself whose only been a believer for 6 years sees the blasphemy in the building meant for genuine worship to God, and those who have been part of the church their whole lives don’t? Is it possible that Yeshua was even including the church itself would be responsible for the persecution of His people?