The modern church often uses an “attractional” approach to bring people into the church. They look at the current culture and try to tailor the church to it. For instance, if young people like to join causes and do service work (i.e., feeding the hungry, joining social causes that protest human trafficking, and so on), they’ll incorporate these things into church programs.
These are good causes. But I think we’re missing what young people are really looking for.
I believe young people are looking for authentic Christianity — that is, the spiritual side of it. They want something deep, something that will challenge them to get close to God.
They want to see real Christians who live and behave just as Jesus did when He walked the earth. They are looking for people who are different than the materialistic world, who look to a God who interacts with them on a moment-to-moment basis, who leads and grows them in their spiritual walk, who gives them the sense of purpose they dream about.
Sadly, they often don’t find that in today’s churches. We’re very busy doing things that the world says will attract them.
Take me. Yeah, I’m older now, but I’m part of the generation that said “good-bye” to church as usual back in the 70’s. It was boring with a capital “B.” I went to Sunday school as a child and teen. I left it all behind the moment I graduated from high school, and sought to find spiritual significance from drugs, Buddhism and New Age. My Christian upbringing had no spiritual aspect. I was to believe in Jesus, and there was no mention at all of the Holy Spirit. I actually thought He was an ethereal, ghostly being that hovered in the upper right corner of the ceiling of the church. Honest.
Before I was stricken with MS, I knew something was missing from my life, and I thought it was probably God. But I was married to an atheist and I dropped the subject after I saw the look on his face when I mentioned going back to church.
MS changed that. I was in such dire straits that I insisted he take me (the MS made it so I couldn’t drive) to a small church my friend from MS Support Group kept inviting us to, and either stay for the service or go home and pick me up again afterwards. He decided to stay for the service.
Well, Jesus met both Jeff and me at that little church. First one pastor and then another came who believed Jesus is much more than Someone you say a few words to and then you’re saved. They taught me that being a Christian means you’re completely changed from the way you were before you believed and totally different than the world around you, completely surrendering your very being to Him, loving people with God’s love and eager to tell people the wonderful things He has done. And they believed the Holy Spirit was much more than a ghost in the corner of the ceiling of a church.
I found out Jesus Christ wanted to reconcile rebellious me to God, so that God could be my absolutely perfect Father. That means an intimate relationship with a Father who loves me with a love no human being possesses. I tell you, young people want to be pure and to be loved by a perfect Father!
I found out God and Jesus wanted to actually communicate with me continually as I walk about in this world. Every day, every hour, every moment.
I tell you, young people want to have a God who is ever-present and the center of their lives. That’s what they’re looking for. Ask them.
I found out the Holy Spirit is the very power and presence of God, and He wanted to take all the rebellion against God out of my heart, give me power not to rebel any more, and literally live inside of me. I tell you, young people are tired of rebelling, they want to be free of sin because it only causes them troubles upon troubles. They like the idea of having God living inside of them, and even flowing out of them like rushing rivers of living water to others.
And I found out God wanted to pour out HIS ACTUAL LOVE into my heart so I could love Him with His very love. I tell you, young people are tired of fickle human love. They want to be able to love perfectly with God’s perfect love.
I tell you, THAT’S spirituality. That’s what young people are looking for. The real deal. Not playing church. Not unchanged lives. Not programs. Not even causes, as good as they are. If you tell them God can get them out of the hole they’ve dug with their sin and give them life as He has it, with the Holy Spirit living in and possessing and leading and empowering them, they’ll jump at it! They want to see that the Bible is true, by looking at the lives of those in whom God has worked all those wonderful things.
I tell you, the church needs to look at its own spirituality. Rather than trying to figure out what the culture wants, we must let young people know what God wants AND be the living proof it’s true. I’m here to tell you, I live what I’ve told you!