Cold Case Christianity podcast on the lack of authenticity in the church

On Saturday, I got a chance to listen to the latest episode of the Cold Case Christianity podcast, and the whole thing was solid. This is one you definitely do not want to miss. I wanted to summarize the first topic of three because it’s something that’s been coming up a lot lately, but topics 2 and 3 are worth listening to, as well.

You can grab the MP3 file here.

Topic #1: Why are young people leaving church?

  • problem: not convinced Christianity is true
  • problem: apparent conflict with science
  • problem: unanswered questions
  • problem: difficulties inside the church
  • problem: the church’s (correct) position on same-sex marriage

Jim’s claim: if people do not think that the Bible is accurate and divinely inspired, then they are going to be tempted to pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe

Jim reads a blog post from a young lady who attends church, and here are her top problems with the church:

  1. you can’t ask questions
  2. you can’t voice your doubts
  3. you can’t explain your struggles
  4. you can’t confess your sins
  5. you can’t confide your fears

And she wants the leadership to be real and open about these things as well.

Wallace says that there here are two main problems that teens run into at college:

  1. intellectual skepticism
  2. selfish desires, especially in sexual areas

It’s aggravated by the hostile university setting (skeptical professors), and a culture of drinking and sex.

The university culture is offering you a worldview that makes your selfish desires more permissible and normal. Unless people have a compelling reason not to reject that, they won’t reject it. It’s the path of least resistance to conform to the expectations of your peers and professors. Our aim should be to provide young people with evidence before they face the skepticism in college.

Another major problem facing young people is the Christian position on homosexuality and gay marriage. Christian teachings on sexuality in general are viewed with suspicion, and these things are not discussed or debated in the church. One way to respond to this is to defend the reliability of Scripture. (Note: I think another way to respond is to give secular reasons for what the Bible teaches, and to help young people link their decisions about sexuality with their larger life plan).

Topic 2 was about objective vs cultural moral standards, and topic 3 was about whether different denominations differ in essentials or in peripheral issues.

My thoughts on topic #1

If you are dealing with young people, it might be a good idea to not gloss over these problems and keep everything at the surface level. Talk to them about what a Christian life should look like and the struggles you had trying to live it out. Talk to them about their plans, and how different decisions are going to affect those plans. Talk to them about their grades. Talk to them about their future profession. Talk to them about apologetics. Talk to them about politics and economics, so they know how to vote for their futures. Basically, they should have the idea that you are interested in whether Christianity is true or not, and that you are interested in them make some sort of plan to serve God and making the decisions they need to get there. You should tell young people your plan and how you are funding it and working on it, in order to prod them to make their own plan.

So if the problem is perceived lack of authenticity, then the solution is to talk to young people like grown ups and give them insight. This is my plan to serve God. This is my plan for my marriage. This is why I think Christianity is true. This is what I want my kids to end up like. This is what I want my wife to do. This is how I intend to fund all this. These are the laws/public policies that help/hurt my plan. These are the problems and struggles I’ve had implementing my plan. Here is an area where my sinfulness is really messing up my plan. When I talk to other Christians, we talk about these issues relevant to my plan.

Speaking frankly about what you are trying to do and the challenges you are facing trying to do it that helps young people to get serious about their beliefs. Don’t reduce the whole religion to rituals and feelings – it’s a mistake.

3 thoughts on “Cold Case Christianity podcast on the lack of authenticity in the church”

  1. Fantastic post, WK – one of your finest – thank you for summarizing this for us! No question about it: the youth are leaving a religion (relationship, really) that is rooted in reality and replacing it with a worldview of wishful thinking, myths, and magic.

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  2. Can’t comment much on current college students, but when l was a young Gen-Xer in university the main reason for avoiding christianity was not a lot of objections I hear today.

    It was quite simple. Young Earth Creationism ( which I don’t hold to, but if others do then I don’t have an issue) would get you made fun of, and the whole moral code thing really interfered with getting drunk and partying. Unfortunately, some people found classes interfered as well. This was before getting a B destroyed your future goals.

    Without being on campus since the early 90s, I would be curious how much has changed. If asked, I’d probably have said I had intellectual doubts ( if I had fallen away rather than fell into an apathetic phase) before I told parents that I became an unbeliever to drink and chase women.

    I forget the technical terms, but there is a difference between a true cause and what you tell people the cause is.

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  3. Thank you for getting to the root of the problem and explaining what most organized Religion’s are doing that is causing doubt in younger members of Christianity.

    I was raised in mainly Independent Baptist churches and I had many questions that my youth minister failed to answer. I was blessed with parents who explained what our Faith was and how we (my brother and I) were supposed to incorporate it into our plans for our futures. I tend to separate Religion, the rituals and other nuances that separate different Christian Religions, and Faith, the act of accepting Salvation and the discipleship that follows so we could grow in our Faith. I feel sometimes we get too caught up in our Religious checklist without thinking why you are doing each thing. I haven’t found any specific organized Religion that satisfies me due to the epidemic of mega churches that only complicate things due to the impersonal feeling that can come from the lack of fellowship with others that smaller congregations and old fashioned Sunday School.
    I have stepped off the narrow path many times and I am thankful for the forgiveness that is waiting for me when I realize how far I have strayed.
    I’m sorry for the long response and I again thankful for you sharing this and breaking it down.

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