Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
Young adults with Christian experience say the church is not a place that allows them to express doubts. They do not feel safe admitting that sometimes Christianity does not make sense. In addition, many feel that the church’s response to doubt is trivial. Some of the perceptions in this regard include not being able “to ask my most pressing life questions in church” (36%) and having “significant intellectual doubts about my faith” (23%). In a related theme of how churches struggle to help young adults who feel marginalized, about one out of every six young adults with a Christian background said their faith “does not help with depression or other emotional problems” they experience (18%).
Reason #6 actually summarizes the previous 5 points. Being genuinely “friendly” is central to making Church relevant to young people. I personally wouldn’t use the word friendly but you get the gist. Overprotective, shallow, antagonistic, judgemental, exclusive and unfriendly aren’t exactly ringing Christian endorsements that are outlined in this study. What are we sharing with our young people? What are we doing to support them in their faith journey? How are we relevant, supportive and open to secular and faith struggles? To begin revitalizing Church for the younger generations we need to work on getting rid of the non-Christian adjectives listed in the 6 reasons. We begin to work with a new normal rather than the old normal.
Sadly, these 6 reasons I have been blogging about and the questions they raise do not just apply to the younger generations. Many apply to leaders, adults, older congregants as well. Church cannot be everything to everybody but it can be a significant contributor to those who are looking to move forward on their spiritual journey assuming we are not stagnating. So many surveys talk about how church is becoming irrelevant but people are still spiritual. People are seeking spiritually yet not often finding what they are looking for within the church. Why is that? That’s the question we need to ask ourselves as Church. What are we as congregations doing to combat the negative adjectives? What are we doing to support those on their spiritual journeys? What are we doing to be friendly? Relevant? A true and strong Gospel centered Church? As every of the 6 reasons points out, be compassionate, listen, respect and converse. It’s not rocket science. It’s what Church should be.