Teenagers Ditching Youth Group & Church

photo by marcia furman

USA Today published a short piece on how the days of overcrowded youth groups and church trips are over.

Only about one in four teens now participate in church youth groups, considered the hallmark of involvement; numbers have been flat since 1999. Other measures of religiosity — prayer, Bible reading and going to church — lag as well, according to Barna Group, a Ventura, Calif., evangelical research company. This all has churches canceling their summer teen camps and youth pastors looking worriedly toward the fall, when school-year youth groups kick in.

A few individuals guess why kids are ditching:

“Talking to God may be losing out to Facebook,” says Barna president David Kinnaman.

“I blame the parents,”who didn’t grow up in a church culture, says Jeremy Johnston, executive pastor at First Family Church in Overland Park, Kan. … “Remember, 80% of kids don’t have cars. Their parents could be lazy or the opposite — overstressed and overcommitted. If parents don’t go to church, kids don’t, either.”

Don’t forget the overcommitted teens themselves, the recession and growing competition from summer mission trips, says Rick Gage of Go-Tell Youth Camps, based in Duluth, Ga.

But then this quote sneaks in at the very end without any explanation or curiosity from the authors:

“I started to question if it was something I always wanted to do or if I just went because my friends did,” says Atkeson, now 18. “It just wasn’t really something I wanted to continue to do. My beliefs changed. I wouldn’t consider myself a Christian anymore.”

This is where I think the article would get interesting! Why did they stop there? This may be the most important issue—beyond lazy parents and facebook.

There must be more to kids leaving Christianity other than “I’m not attending church” or “I’m not going to camps with my youth group.” Many Christians often say things like, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a mechanic.” If Christianity and faith is so much more than just attending services, then what’s causing this shift in teen commitments?

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August 11, 2010  |  christianity, religion, society  |  27 Comments

Why Do We Exist?

I am sure we’ve all been asked this question or  wondered ourselves. But have you ever heard the answers given by Buddhists? Scientists? Mormons? Taoists? Roger Nygard, director of Trekkies and Trekkies 2, took his curiosity and sense of humor on the road and asked this important question to hundreds of people. His new film The Nature of Existence tells the tale:

About the film:

I wrote the toughest 85 questions I could think of, about our purpose and the nature of existence, and then asked hundreds of people all over the globe, such as: Indian holy man Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (The Art of Living), evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), 24th generation Chinese Taoist Master Zhang Chengda, Stanford physicist Leonard Susskind (co-discoverer of string theory), wrestler Rob Adonis (founder of Ultimate Christian Wrestling), confrontational evangelist Brother Jed Smock, novelist Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game), director Irvin Kershner (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back), Stonehenge Druids Rollo Maughfling & King Arthur Pendragon and many more… How would YOU answer?

I decided to take a look at these 85 questions, and I think we should all try them on for size. Here’s a taste:

  • Why do we exist?
  • What is the best thing about existing?
  • What is our purpose?
  • Should religions be challenged?
  • Is skepticism a good thing?
  • Which religion is right?
  • Do we have a need to believe in something?
  • What is spirituality?
  • Is there a God?
  • What does God need from us?
  • Who is/are the Messiah(s)?
  • How do we determine truth?
  • Where does morality, or our “conscience,” comes from?
  • Does God want to test us? Why?
  • What determines sexual orientation?
  • Why is God interested in our sexual behavior?
  • Do we have free will?
  • Is everything predetermined?
  • What is best path to happiness?
  • Does meditation work?
  • Why do we need an afterlife?
  • When does life begin?
  • What is the greatest danger facing man’s existence?

I love them all, and I think I’d like to take some time to write out my own answers in the future. What do you think of The Nature of Existence? If there’s a screening near you, will you see it?

How would you answer the questions?

Sexism in the Bible

sexism - Archie comic

From PEP #192, April 1966

The evangelical magazine Christianity Today (which I’ve mentioned quite a bit) published an article titled “Woman As Folly” about the many curious Bible passages about women as possessions, being below or weaker than men turning women away from Christianity and god:

… “I think men are more aware than women of their tendency to sin,” one of the men suggested. “Maybe they can use this wisdom to help guide their wives.”

I couldn’t believe this was being discussed as a legitimate idea.

“Don’t they understand?” I said [to my husband]. “These sort of misconceptions—the idea that Christianity subjugates women—drive people away from the church.”

I wondered what he thought was so clear—that women bear a greater burden for the fall of man? “If I wasn’t a Christian,” I said, “these comments about women would turn me away from God.”

I wanted to deconstruct the ideas that were chipping away at my confidence in the Creator, but I felt outmatched. Among the men in our group, conversations often felt like a Scripture-quoting duel. Each time a new passage was referenced, I had the same question: What’s the context? Their response was nearly always a puzzled look. It was as if I’d just suggested we tear out pages from our Bibles and fold them into paper airplanes. Scripture, they reminded me, is inerrant.

This woman is starting to see sense. You can almost feel the warmth of the light bulb glowing brightly above her head.

Could this be the birth of a feminist? A liberated woman who realizes her entire religion has been anti-woman for 2000+ years? Maybe she could actually re-consider her belief in a god who would use authors with misogynistic values to be its voice?

But no. She can’t doubt god or the Bible. She has to pound the square peg into the round hole any way she can. So she goes looking for a comforting justification for the sexist teachings in her holy book.

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California’s Proposition 8 Ruled Unconstitutional!

It’s all over the news! It’s confirmed! California’s Proposition 8 has been ruled unconstitutional, violating both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Read the entire decision document here:

Prop 8 Ruling (it will pop up, and you can expand it)

This is a tremendous victory for gay rights!