A Generation Gone

I find it sad when I meet the children of faithful members and I ask them where they live and they say, “Oh, I live here in Enid.” Then I find out they are going to a church of another denomination.

As a parent I know that we only have so much influence on our children. But I look at my congregation and see an entire generation missing from our pews. Seriously. There are exceptions, to be sure. But I wonder what happened then, and what happens now, and what I can do as a parent and pastor to prevent that in the future.

Any ideas?

8 comments on “A Generation Gone

  1. I think we need to worry more about teaching the Truth to children, making them know the difference between what is good, right, and true and what is false though appealing.

    Too often we think about youth things in terms of what will appeal to them — but faith is not a matter of making things look pretty and nice – it is seeing and understanding the reality of sin in this world and the reality of Salvation. Folks might still wander from the Truth, but at least they will have known the Truth, and know where Truth resides.

    I fear we’ve simply taught a generation to leap frog from place to place chasing after whatever scratches their itchy ears.

  2. This isn’t simply an issue facing confessional Lutheran, conservative, Protestant, Catholic or Christian churches. My sense is it cuts across religions, even. Even in churches with ‘significant growth’, the dirty little secret seems to be attrition, as well as an inability to hold members across generations who might hop to another church.

    Going on the offense helps, but the enemy usually looks too much like what ‘conservatives’ or ‘liberals’ rail against rather than what Christ asks us to war against. The focus must be more on the unchurched and non-Christian than other kinds of Christians who aren’t ‘really’ Christian (or at least not really right about what Christianity “is”). Growth is only growth if the new members aren’t coming from another church, otherwise it’s rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

    The hard fact must also be faced that the problems most denominations were born to counter no longer exist in the forms they were originally protested against. That is, the culturally specific concerns of 16th century Europe in matters of faith are not the concerns of 21st century America – even if the points being addressed then are important. The philosophical/intellectual categories underlying much in the way of Protestant formulations is simply not shared by the mainstream today, for good or ill (or both). Much the same can be said of late classical, medieval and non-western categories assumed by much of RCism and Orthodoxy.

    Of course, the real reason there is no growth is a lack of holiness. That being said, when the Holy One Himself showed up we killed him, so holiness is no guarantee of growth, either. It’s ours to sow, it’s God’s to give growth.

    Personally, I think it’s due to a lack of consistent, relatively unchanging, unselfconscious worship and prayer. Too much anger, too much head-learnin’. Worship and prayer forms change too often and are too often put together by untalented writers, composers and editors. Even a focus on ‘traditional’ or ‘unchanged’ worship becomes so self-conscious that it’s obvious it’s just another form of DIY church (just using more traditional bits and bobs).

  3. As the father of two daughters and a seeing a generation missing from my congregation, I think about this issues constantly. I’ve asks the fathers whose children still attend what they did, but I’m hesitant to ask the fathers whose children don’t although I think that is a very important perspective.

  4. I got to college before I knew there was a bigger difference between us and Baptists than Baptists don’t drink. Sure, I knew there were theological differences, but no one ever bothered to say doctrine matters or that false doctrine lies about God. I’d have gone Roman if it wasn’t for Prs. Beecroft and Tiews. Till then my pastors left off the whole, pure doctrine is important and church is about Jesus parts.

  5. I’m a new Lutheran. I was just confirmed this year on Reformation Sunday. My three daughters also were confirmed with me, ages 21, 18 and 16. A month before confirmation they all three were baptized at the Lutheran font. They never could agree to baptism in the “reformed” churches we attended. It made no sense to them, and not much to me. We also ceased taking communion at our previous church long before we left, because that too made no sense to any of us.

    My children were as excited as I was to discover that Lutheran doctrine and practices (confessional, liturgical, orthodox, pre-denominational, closed communion practicing, LCMS faith) does not in any way truly resemble Baptist type doctrine and practices(including non-denom) that they and I grew up learning. Also appealing to my daughters was that there were no women teaching men and no STUPID youth groups. Rock and roll and drum sets and sound boards were obviously, mercifully, absent. There were no age segregated studies and no “growth groups”. All of these differences accelerated our desire to join this church. The “anti-everything we ever had to endure at reformed churches” church, is where we surprisingly found ourselves in July of 2011.

    What will keep them in the faith .. aside from God Himself ? They were fully catechized. Our Pastor taught us well in 3 months, devoting himself to even accelerate our catechism classes by meeting with us more than 6 hours one week. And generally we had classes lasting two hours, sometimes longer. And still, every time they are with the pastor our Pastor is a willing instrument of truth, teaching always.. to these young Lutherans. He is ever ready to defend the Faith.

    To these four Baptist theology escapees, this man was/is our first REAL Pastor. We recognized it immediately. Like night and day.

    Lutheran kids need to be taught, fully and frequently, the absolute differences between other faith doctrines and the Lutheran doctrines. Not just the what, but the why. They need to be learning with the adults, in Bible Studies with the Pastor. I say be willing to encourage parents to get their children mingling with the older folks too, which is something my daughters craved but were denied at other churches where all “learning” was segregated into age groups.

    Men, be MEN. How the church of this age needs MANLY men. Thank you for standing firm. May the Lord Jesus Christ give you strength for this task.

    Cynthia,

    Jackson, Wyoming

  6. Thanks for all your comments, and welcome Cynthia. Sadly, I probably do not do as much clear teaching on denominational differences as I ought to, at least in terms of what they believe. Now to reflect more on that and on some of the other comments. Keep them coming, though!!

  7. For me it was never an issue of needing to know what other denominations believed. I realized that they were different from us. It was that no one ever said, those differences matter. The world’s so pluralistic and so many churches practice “open communion” that the fact that they’re wrong doesn’t seem to matter in this post-modern world.

    “Baptists are wrong.”
    “Oh that’s nice.”
    “That means they’re lying about God and making people vulnerable to the assaults of Satan.”
    “Oh. Well that one is kind of a problem. Maybe I shouldn’t go to the Baptist church then.”

    My problem was ecumenism said other denominations having false doctrine didn’t matter and no one bothered to tell me otherwise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *