How can we keep young people in the church?
Seems to me this is not precisely the right question.
The better question is how we can help young people love God and grow into their “true selves.”
A happy by-product will be their faithfulness to the church.
Here’s a start:
Teach kids to engage in productive faith.
In his two books Culture Making and Playing God author Andy Crouch talks about productive faith (my phrase) as living out our true calling as image-bearers.
Image-bearers: human beings reflecting God in creativity and productivity (among other things).
Thus Crouch: “The human quest for meaning is played out in human making: the finger-painting, omelet-stirring, chair-crafting, snow-swishing activities of culture.” *
So I say, teach a young dancer that God loves her dancing, and that her calling is to create wonderful dances for human audiences but ultimately for a delighted audience of One — God himself — and she is likely to grow into her true dancer-self, in love with her craft, in love with her God.
This faith will endure.
* * *
Next week: Why the church usually doesn’t teach productive faith.*Andy Crouch. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, p24.