Kids Seek Spiritual Experiences…or not

kinnon —  May 9, 2006 — 6 Comments

French mathematician and religious philosopher, Blaise Pascal, once said that there is a God-shaped void inside each of us that only God can fill. Someone might want to tell that to the 15-25 year olds interviewed for a Church of England report, Making Sense of Generation Y.

Ruth Gledhill reports in the Times,

A report published by the Church today indicates that young people are quite happy with a life without God and prefer car boot sales to church.

If they think about church at all, the images young people come up with are “cardigans”, “sandals and socks”, “corrupt”, “traditionalist” and “stagnant”.

The report has prompted an “urgent” wake-up call from the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who writes of a large “mismatch” between the Church and the views of those aged 15 to 25. He says: “The research suggests young people are happy with life as it is, that they have felt no need for a transcendent something else and regard the Church as boring and irrelevant.”

And later:
The researchers were also shocked to discover little sense of sin or fear of death. Nor did they find any Freudian guilt as a result of private sensual desires. The young people were, however, afraid of growing old.

Ah, the ubiquitous fear of growing old. Perhaps the Church could come up with a new marketing slogan, “Jesus helps you stay young.” Well, he does, doesn’t he?

UPDATE: This post from Michael Spencer @ BHT seems apropos:

“…it seems to me that our culture reshapes the Gospel into either 1) being a consumer or 2) being a fan. I am really stunned at the number of serious Christians who can’t see this. The parable shows that if you change the business of a school from producing students/scholars to producing satisfied customers and happily entertained fans, you can be very successful. The key is to play the right word games in the process. But I say this after a lifetime in youth ministry: That stuff doesn’t produce disciples of Jesus. Jesus does, through his Spirit and by his community. If we decide to call fans/consumers “disciples” then we can do all kinds of things.

This is right out of the playbook Southern Baptists and other revivalists wrote around the use of the altar call, evangelism sales techniques, etc. If I get you to pray the prayer or walk forward, you are a Christian. Then the game becomes how to get you to do that. That the actual Gospel makes guest appearances in this approach doesn’t surprise me at all. But the fact that we can’t see what is actually happening is sad.”

Please make a point of reading Michael’s two year old, Parable for our Seeker-Sensitive, Purpose-Driven, Church Growth Oriented Friends.

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kinnon

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

6 responses to Kids Seek Spiritual Experiences…or not

  1. The story about the kids is interesting. The “education” parable is silly. How does using contemporary language, technology, and arts prevent a church from fostering spiritual growth in her members? Seriously, I want to know. Time and time again you commend these sorts of reactionary rants as if they were insightful and true. The truth is that there is no evidence that Christians at “purpose driven” or “seeker sensitive” churches are less spiritually mature than people at other churches. In fact, the recent Hartford Institute study found that the critic’s claims that these churches are numbers driven, gospel-lite, and community starved were just baseless accusations.

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  2. They are just following their parents lead by lowering their expectations for life. With nothing at stake, their is no reason to risk, so that comfort and security become life’s ambitions.
    Of course, this smacks against the desire in many young people to test their limits in extreme sports.
    When you align this attitude of young people along side the attitude of the church as they describe it, is it any wonder that our society shows no interest in the 8,000 people who will die today from Aids, or the thousands of children worldwide that will become orphans because of the disease.

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