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.”
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.