Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

3 June 2008

It was a dark and stormy night...

There is an interesting article in Relevant Magazine called Faith No More today. It tells the personal story of Jill Strahand. A typical Christian teenager... who became a typical Christian young adult... who became a typical Christian adult. According to George Barna's stats, hers is a story that is being repeated over and over in North America.

Jill Strahand was like a lot of Christian teenagers. She grew up in a home where both parents were believers and raised her to regularly read the Bible, pray and, of course, go to church. By the time she reached high school, Strahand was actively involved in her youth group—leading worship, helping the Christian club at her school, attending Bible studies.

Reflecting on that time in her life, Strahand says, “My boyfriend at the time and I were even the token Christian couple at church.” She also remember
s, “If anyone asked me about God or Jesus, I’d start to get excited that they would be accepting Jesus into their life and join the Christian family.”
Strahand was “on fire.”

When her family moved, things slowly began to unravel. Strahand tried another congregation in her new city and immediately joined the worship team. But the experience just wasn’t the same now that she was getting older.

“I felt too old to be a part of the high-school groups but too young to be with the college groups,” she says. “I started phasing out church events, using my part-time job as an excuse, but I still was ‘on fire’ for God. Soon, I started to have seeds of doubt about Christianity itself, but I knew all the ‘Christian’ answers and would tell myself those so that I would believe again.”

When it was time to go off to college, her disbelief grew, and the “Christia
n answers” she had been taught were no longer working. The support group of peers that Strahand developed in youth group was no longer there to help. She says she blamed the doubt on a “lack of fellowship with fellow Christians.” Shortly after that, she completely abandoned the faith that, she thought, seemed to have abandoned her.

“It still took a long time not to label myself a Christian anymore, mostly because it was scary,” she says. “I think I hung onto my religion so long because I was terrified of what people would think.”

Today Strahand doubts that she ever really believed in the first place.

Strahand admitted it was her own lack of fellowship with Christians that served as the tipping point. And for Christians who stick with the faith, fellowship is often the factor that serves as reinforcement in the tough times.

Is lack of "fellowship" just a lame excuse for abandoning a relationship with God? Personally... I think so. But its why many thousands do. Most people won't just wander into a church alone... nor will they stay without friends. Even though rational thought might dictate otherwise, because...

Humans are: Dumb, unfaithful, arrogant, untrustworthy, selfish...
God is: Wise, faithful, humble, just, believes in you, giving...

But Jill's story is repeated over and over because we were MADE to live life together.

When I first gave my life to Jesus... there was a whole lot of newness around me a
nd a culture I was being asked to conform to... that I didn't fully understand. But I made some good friends... married one of them... and dug in with their help.

On Sunday, my pastor told a story of a blind pastor with a healing ministry who "saw" thousands of other blind people healed... but
not him. As hard as we try, we'll never totally "get" God. There will always be questions and issues to work through. If I was an island... it would get pretty lonely on days like that.

Krissy and I watched a House rerun last night revolving around the Chief of Medicine proving to House that even though he's as smart as he is... even HE needs people to bounce things off

... and so do we.


carl said...

Maybe the issue is relationship. I think it has more to do with the nature of youth ministry. Most youth have no theological foundation and their services are dominated by behavior modification messages. When they get to college, the belief that, "if I go too far with a guy or listen to secular music I will destroy my life" does not hold up. After that it is all down hill.

Churches would do their youth a service if they gave them a more pure doctrine and teach them about grace. Perhaps they will not believe the Christian life is not completely futile.
< / soapbox >

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to think. I am at a complete loss. Speechless. Concerned. Deeply concerned.


Dave Carrol said...

I'm not sure it's something to be concerned about. Frankly... the way church runs is broken.

Carl I get what you're saying... but I'm not sure it's a lack of docterine that kids lack. I just don't think they see healthy Christians acting like healthy Christians.

If they grew up seeing the sick healed in their living rooms... who can refute that. Youth watch and have a keen BS meter. The article in Relevant also talks about another story that is similar to the one I quoted. The guy talks about how in his doubt... he discovered a far healthier faith in Christ than what he saw as a kid.

I don't think that relationship is THE thing... but you can't do this journey by ourselves.

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