Atheism is on the move, organising itself to spread its unbelief. You see it in initiatives like “A Manual for Creating Atheists”. That’s clear but perhaps less visible and potentially more destructive are the passive ways in which unbelief blooms in the lives of those raised in the church. Let’s explore why we could lose the next generations and what we can do about it…
Why They Won’t Go
A survey was undertaken of Australian University Undergraduates who were members of atheist societies.
Here are the “Top 10 reasons why Australian & American University Undergraduates don’t go to church”
- “Boring or unfulfilling church service.”
Whilst both are not great, perhaps the big point here is “unfulfilling” ie: not relevant to their lives. It would be easy to just blame those delivering the service. Certainly, if the service isn’t really serving you in delivering Christ, the Word of God and how it affects you right here, right now, that’s a fair call.
However, might this point to the fact that in an age of entertainment worship, some come to church with the wrong expectations? Prayer to cover not only the people involved in the service but also the hearts and minds of those coming will help here.
- “Beliefs of the Church.”
Perhaps this may be addressed by boosting apologetics literacy amongst the congregation? If there aren’t good answers to questions about Christianity’s important beliefs, this will only get worse ie: congregation members themselves will start to have confusion about key issues.
- “Church’s moral views.”
A variant statement of point 2 so ditto to what’s been said above.
- “Don’t need to go to church.”
Looks to be a failure to communicate our state of fallen humanity. One of the interviewees previously went to a youth group and loved it. He especially appreciated the fact his youth pastor took the Bible seriously and spent the time teaching from it.
His church however fired him because they wanted more numbers. The new person got more kids in with more “pizza and games” but it all “became hand holding, singing and Kumbaya.” In other words, a recipe for disaster. You can see why that kid left and didn’t go back – what’s the difference in the end if it is just like any other club since it doesn’t have what makes a church a church – seeking God and Biblical teaching?
- “I prefer to do other things.”
A reflection of getting absolutely nothing out of church. Sure, there’s always room for improvement and the church experience is no exception. However, that reality also applies to the one making the statement. There’s truth in the saying, “You get as much out as what you put in”. Again, church (and God for that matter) isn’t just there for your entertainment.
- “I don’t have the faith to believe those things.”
Once again, I believe more competence in apologetics would help here.
- “The way the church is organised.”
Perhaps a reflection of most people’s distaste for bureaucracy? Or maybe more to do with the fact that humans naturally have issues with authority given our rebellious nature?
- “Other commitments.”
A function of not finding the service fulfilling. If they do find it fulfilling, they’d prioritise it above other commitments where possible – especially when churches do offer services at different times.
- “A bad experience amongst church people.”
Hypocrisy would be high on the list of offences prompting this comment. We certainly need to call on God’s grace and power to overcome here but isn’t this the very reason why we are in church in the first place? After all, we all need a Saviour. So whilst we shouldn’t be using this as an excuse, we need to be real and not have a culture where we have people pretending to be all good, all the time. People ought to know and remember that a saint is a sinner who falls down and gets up.
- “Not enough time because of work.”
Like point 8.
Unbelief is like a weed. Lack of action is what allows it to bloom. I encourage you to firstly tend to the garden of your family. Don’t allow the weeds to grow in your life as these will spread out and choke the young, tender lives planted under you. Then, tend to their lives and those with whom you are in contact with.
For a more in depth review, take a look here.