Almost Christian

An excerpt from “The Ivy Jungle Network Campus Ministry Update September 2010”:

Princeton Seminary Professor Kendra Creasy Dean shares what she considers some depressing news in her new book, Almost Christian. As a researcher in the National Study for Youth and Religion, she helped conduct in depth interviews with more than 3300 teenagers who call themselves Christians.  Her findings show that most “Christian” kids are indifferent and inarticulate about their faith. The faith they do discuss often boils down to what has been labeled “moralistic therapeutic deism” – a belief in a generally good God who exists primarily to help make people happy.   This “imposter” faith contributes to the massive departure of so many young people from the church during their high school and college years.  Too often parents and churches have low expectations for teenagers.  Too many youth groups are designed to keep students out of trouble and simply being nice – not truly exploring the faith.  However, she did find some who had a passion for their faith and an ability to talk about it in a meaningful way.  These committed teenagers most often came from Mormon or evangelical backgrounds.  She identified four common traits among this group: They have a personal story about God they can share, a deep connection to a faith community, a sense of purpose and a sense of hope about their future (CNN August 27, 2010)

Leaving Church Behind

According to Barna, only about 25% of teenagers are active in a youth group; a statistic that has remained relatively flat for the last decade. Lifeway Christian Resources reports that many students drop out around age 16. Their research indicates that many teens do not find church relevant or think it meets the needs of young people today. While in the past they may have come for free food and entertainment, today’s teens don’t want to be relegated to basement pizza parties. They are looking for significance and connections. Sadly, the numbers fall again when they leave for college. (USA Today August 11, 2010) 1published in the Ivy Jungle Network Newsletter, August 2010

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. published in the Ivy Jungle Network Newsletter, August 2010

Awesome Worship

Our youth pastor is on vacation so last night, the interns ran the youth worship service. It was awesome. The music was inspirational and the message deep and inspiring. Good work David, Kyle, Luis, and Holly. You guys are awesome!

Awesome

I finished reading The Shack a few days ago. I’m still reeling from its reading. I’m not even sure how to review it.

From the jacket:

Mackenzie Allen Philips’s youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for the weekend.

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.

I think it has changed my world, too. I’ve always wondered and imagined what the encounter with God will be like. 1Yes, I believe we will all encounter God eventually I pray that mine will be as wondrous and transformative as Mack’s. In fact, I suspect that Mack’s encounter, as he describes it, is only remotely as wondrous as an actual encounter will be.

When you read this book, you will ask yourself, “Is this really true? Is it factual?” I don’t know if it’s factual 2You’ll understand when you finish the book, but I believe it’s true. It left me craving to be with God on a minute-to-minute basis. I want to be more gracious with those around me. And I yearn for the time when God will reveal himself to me more fully.

I agree with Wynonna Judd when she says, “Reading THE SHACK…has blown the door wide open to my soul.”

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Yes, I believe we will all encounter God eventually
2. You’ll understand when you finish the book

Inconsistent Religion

From The Ivy Jungle Network Campus Ministry Update Summer 2008

Although the US is one of the most religious nations in the world, a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows many believe things which contradict their stated faith.70% of those who claim religious affiliation believe multiple religions can lead to salvation and 68% believe in multiple interpretations of their own religion.57% of self-identified evangelicals believe multiple religions can lead to salvation.21% of self-identified atheists believe that some kind of God exists.80% of respondents believe in moral standards of right and wrong, but only 29% claim their religious teachings help them determine those standards. A copy of the report can be read at www.pewforum.org(SFGate.com June 23, 2008)