Church Drop-outs: Why They Leave the Church, Part 6

Rick Mattson Church 2 Comments

Church Drop-outs part 5 is here.

When my daughter Kelli was in middle school she and her friends often choreographed dance routines — some rather elaborate — to their favorite tunes.

A few hours of tumbling and thumping on the upstairs floors of our home would eventually lead to a big dance performance, which my wife and I took in eagerly with much applause.

It occurred to me that Jesus, too, was watching the kids perform.

Maybe Jesus had even taken an active role in drawing the kids into their jumps and twirls in the first place.

Kelli in 1998

I mentioned this to my then 13-year old daughter. “Kelli,” I said. “Jesus likes it when you dance.”

It sounded strange coming out my mouth, certainly different than what I was accustomed to hearing in evangelical churches, which was . . . (silence).

* * *

My suggestion for churches that want to hang on to their kids and not lose them from the faith in the college-age years and 20s, is to “actively affirm.” *

That is, as young people gradually develop their identity and zero in on a life-calling, we need to actively affirm their interests and passions, and connect them to God.

I wonder what would happen to teenagers in a church where their artistic and intellectual skills and “culture-making” practices were affirmed as truly spiritual.

How about a science fair at a church? An art exhibit featuring works by teenagers? A debate? Poetry slam?

All this interwoven with teaching from the Bible about what it means to develop as image bearers and culture makers.

* * *

Life in its breadth and fullness is sacred. All of life (except sin) is a gift from God, which includes tripping the light fantastic.

This is the end of the series. To return to part 1 of Drop-outs, click here.

* Affirming students’ passions and interests is an important — and missing — piece in evangelical discipleship. Of course, such affirmation doesn’t guarantee students will stay in the faith. But I believe it will help.

For more on image-bearing and culture-making, see Andy Crouch’s two books, Culture Making and Playing GodExcellent reading.

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