Dual Life Trend

Here is some disturbing news from the Ivy Jungle:

The Dual Life Trend: At Urbana and two state youth conventions, the Youth Transition Network met with more than 500 high school students asking them why so many students fall away from church when they go off to college. One of the consistent top reasons among the two dozen given was hypocrisy among youth group members. Students said that many live an “intentionally deceptive” “dual life”. They believe that between 75% and 95% of the students in their groups lead such dual lives. (YTN Memo April 17, 2007)

This is especially disturbing to me. Charlene and I work with youth in our church and have worked with youth for around 20 years. We know hypocracy exists in the church youth community–just as it exists in the whole church body–but the notion that church youth are leading “intentionally deceptive” “dual lives” at the rate of 75-95% is hard to believe.

Really. Teens gravitate to people who are “real” in their walk with God. Most of the teens I have mentored are struggling with sin, just like I do. But to be intentionally leading a dual life deceptively is a rare occurance to me. I can think of several reasons for the survey results:

  1. I’ve been completely fooled by all the youth I’ve mentored over 20 years and they really are leading intentionally deceptive, dual lives.
  2. The youth surveyed have misinterpreted others’ struggles trying to reconcile their sin on the one hand with their desire to lead a life pleasing to God on the other. (I think all Christians struggle with their desired walk conflicting with their actual walk. Can someone really desire to act one way but actually act another? Absolutely!)
  3. Maybe I’ve gravitated to the teens who are the 5 to 25% of teens who do not live “intentionally deceptive” “dual lives”.

Regardless, the survey tells us that teens are human. We all want to protect our darkest secrets from the people whom we respect and admire. Thus, our focus in youth ministry–indeed any ministry–needs to be on God’s grace rather than God’s judgement. God’s grace, as disbursed through His ambassadors, allows people to shed their facade; reject their dual lives; live in the Light. When the threat of judgment is removed, people can become brutally honest.

I believe we spend too much time in ministry trying to “disciple” folks into a set of rules instead of encouraging people into a loving realtionship with God. God want’s to forgive. God wants to wrap His arms around everyone and give them love and peace. God wants to accept people the way they are.

When we communicate judgment, we force people to hide their real selves from us and try to hide their real selves from God. When we communicate grace, people are free to be themselves and to allow God to work in their lives…

More on Manly Church

Relevant to yesterdays post, I found a post by Chris Elrod regarding music in the church. He’s got a point about the feminization of the church. Here are a few concluding paragraphs from his blog on the subject.

The songs of yesterday were hymns about blood, victory and battle put to the beer drinking tunes of the day. Manly stuff that makes me want to go pee in the woods just writing about. Today we sing about love, peace and joy put to music that sounds like The Wiggles. Excuse me while I go watch Oprah and hug myself. To top it off, most preachers seem to get their topical message ideas from watching one episode of The View. May God have mercy on our soul.

This is not an “I’ve-lost-touch-with-today-because-I’m-an-old-fart” or pro “Wild-At-Heart” cultural thing. I’ve heard these same views expressed by many unchurched, artistic 20-something men. Musically they want AC/DC and we give them Celine Dion. Lyrically they want Tom Clancy and we give them Danielle Steel. Spiritually they want Braveheart and we give them Sleepless In Seattle. Everywhere I turn there’s this…estrogen…feel to church. It’s all so safe, sappy and sad.

If the church is going to be relevant in the coming generations we’ve got to get back to reaching men…and helping them become Godly husbands and fathers. In order for the church to reach men we’ve got to have music on Sundays that has the lyrical depth of John Newton, the musical kick of Guns N’ Roses and led by a man that looks like Ted Nugent. In order for the church to reach men we’ve got to have sermons that hit like a NFL linebacker, spoken in a voice as bold as a WCW wrestler and led by a man that acts like…John The Baptist. If there’s one thing that today’s society of broken marriages and children with no father figure has taught us…it’s that we need more manly churches!!!

Happy Resurrection Sunday.

Church for Men

It’s about time. Studies have shown that women are more attracted to the traditional church than men are. In Daytona Beach, FL, there is now a Church for Men.

Fox News reports:

The Church For Men meets one Saturday evening a month, drawing about 70 guys dressed in everything but straight-laced shirts and neckties. The service features a rock band, a shot clock to time the preacher’s message and a one-hour in-and-out guarantee.