My recent encounter with a Fort McMurray Church kid


I recently had the oppertunity to speak to a 18 year old kid recently. A couple of people were talking and the subject of Church came up. I asked this kid if he went to Church and he indicated that he had. His whole life, in fact. I asked him which church he went to and he told me it was the…… [ name withheld as per my own convictions. If you are a local McMurray pastor and want to know if it was yours, send me a message and I will let you know] He told me that he went to Church every Sunday and attended youth events and youth group during the week, and had done so religiously for years.

I asked him if he was a Christian and after the initial shock of finding himself accidently engaged in a “witnessing” encounter, he told me that he was. At this point I had not revealed any of my religious and spiritual convictions, as the topic had not come up, and was more than anything curious as what he would say to a stranger who had not tipped their hand. I then proceeded to ask him several big questions. Here is a VERY exact approximation of our discussion.

“So what’s Christianity all about? What’s like, the most important part of Christianity?”

“Following the bible and being a good person”

“What do you mean. Can you elaborate?”

“Pretty much following the rules that are in the Bible, like the commandments, and you can’t do anything really bad”

“So pretty much, the message of Christianity is to follow the rules of the Bible?

“Yeah. Because if you follow the Bible you’ll have a better life”

“What if I don’t like some of the rules, like what it has to say about homosexuality? I heard there’s a lot of really violent and hateful rules in there”

“Only in the Old testament, and we don’t follow that anymore”

“Hmmm. Ok. So I’ve heard Christians talk about something¬† called the Gospel. What exactly is that?

“I’m not sure.”

“I heard someone once say that it was the good news. Do you know anything about that?”

“Not really, no”

“So if I wanted to be a Christian, how would I do that?

“You have to follow the rules of the Bible”

“Ok. And so where does Jesus play into all this?”

“Jesus is the one who makes the rules”


This kid has been going to Church his whole life, and that’s what I got out of him. Even if he was really nervous, which I would have been at that age, doesn’t that betray a fundamental ignorance about the faith that even nerves can’t hide? I wrote about this a bit, in a post titled “mush before milk before meat” where I asked how many people in any given congregation know the basic fundamentals of the faith and of the gospel, and who could adequately explain them?

Who is primarily responsible for this kid having this level of knoweledge and conviction? Is it the Churche’s fault? The kid’s parents? The pastor? The youth group? The elders? The kid himself?

What do you guys think? What do we make of this situation? Do we chalk it up to the fact that I spoke to the one kid in the whole congregation who hasn’t been paying attention for the last 10 yeras, or is this a symptom of something bigger and more profoundly systemic and problematic?

14 thoughts on “My recent encounter with a Fort McMurray Church kid

  1. Very typical answers from kids that grow up in the Institutional Church. They all have the “form” (2 Tim 3:5)….

    Normally Youth programs/youth Pastors preach the law/morality, instead of the Cross and grace. So these kids grow up in these Youth Groups with
    major distortion on what the real Gospel is.

    Don’t get me wrong the law is important to explain to these youth but if its not mixed with a balanced understanding of the Gospel then you get this kind of paradigm.

    Col 2:20 If then you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to its ordinances:
    Col 2:21 touch not, taste not, handle not;
    Col 2:22 which things are all for corruption in the using, according to the commands and doctrines of men?
    Col 2:23 These things indeed have a reputation of wisdom in self-imposed worship and humility, and unsparing severity of the body, but are not of any value for the satisfying of the flesh.

    This is coming from a person that was a Youth Pastor and traveled extensively across the States speaking at Youth conventions.

    Who is to blame you ask? I feel that is more difficult to answer. Its my understanding that true authentic discipleship should start in the home. Between a Father and Son,Mother and Daughter. So lets start in the home first. But that brings to the surface the bigger problem, what do the parents of these Youth understand of the Faith?

    Jud 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

    The reality is that the MAJORITY of the adults that attend these Institutional Churches have no real understanding of the Gospel or the Cross.

    I challenge any of your readers with this: Ask 5 grown adults in ANY Institutional Church, it wont matter what denomination it is, to clearly articulate and lay out for you the basics Tenants of the Faith.

    Its simply alarming at the lack of true authentic Gospel teaching in Fort McMurray.

    Heck you always go to MGA!!! I herd they were doing classes on Neil Anderson’s book the “Bondage Breaker”.

    I N S E R T S A R C A S M ___________________________!!!!!!!

    Heb 5:11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
    Heb 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,
    Heb 5:13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.
    Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

  2. I don’t think you can blame one person here. It’s the Kid’s fault for not really paying attention. It’s the Church’s fault for not defining clearly what the gospel is (or maybe they just don’t believe it?). It’s the Parent’s fault for not engaging conversations and developing their own faith enough to correct this. It’s a profound and BIG, huge, gigantic problem. Reducing Christianity to behavior modification based on rules of morality found in the bible is a gross miscalculation of what Christ did for us. We can act moral all day long but it won’t save us. I fear for congregations like this. A lot of people are in for a bad surprise when they die and Christ says he never knew them.

  3. Blame the parents. I mean, but honestly, the kids got an aspect of the Gospel right: that we must do the will of God expressed through the commandments and counsels. But, he’s missing the context that makes that explanation intelligible.

  4. Why is this suprising? It is not the fault of parents or the youth group. Not saying they really did their jobs, that will be up to God to judge, but the truth is, that the decision to truely come to Jesus Christ rests on the heart of each man and woman. Those who come to Him are chosen by the Father himself. As far as denial of God’s existence, creation alone is enough for God to bring judgment on anyone. The message to accept Jesus and walk with him is out there, whether watered down or not, it is still there. And no one will stand on Judgement day and be able to say, I just wasn’t shown the truth. The problem is in the heart of those who reject him. They do it intentionally and/or unintentionally. The decision to come to Jesus, for real, is one we do make, but is is also at the same time only made by the Father. it doesn’t matter how well you tell the truth, those that are not elect, those that will choose to reject it, will never get it. The Jewish rulers at the time of Jesus knew he rose from the dead, but still denied the obvious. So do all who reject God and Jesus Christ.
    The truth is that there are VERY few out there, who really are Christians. Actions do show faith. Lying, cheating, stealing are not actions of Faith in God. If we are not growing into better people before God, we are on the wrong path. We all struggle with growing faith, but denial, or blurring the message to fit what we are comfortable with is definately NOT Faith. It is worshiping a God we created in our own minds. Not the one who is. The only reason people do that, is because they actually don’t like who He really is. To love God, we must accept Him as He is, he already will accept us as we are… then He will clean us up Himself.

    • Hi, Thanks for the response :) I completely agree that God is the primary actor in this drama, and that all people are at war with God and are under his wrath until God makes the first move to save us, which he predestined in eternity past. True story,. And so while people won’t choose to believe without God first drawing them to himself and giving them faith, I think a Church has done it’s job when everyone attending church is able to at least articulate what the gospel is, even if they reject it. Is the Pastor or elders ultimately responsible- no. But I’d rather deal with someone who knows the truth and rejects it, than someone who doesn’t know it and doesn’t think about it.

      • Definately true. Also the best message a church can give is “they will know they are my disciples by the love they have for each other” This alone would change the way the world sees the church. But unfortunately, most churchs act like the world, Pastors, leaders, are leading most “christians” to destruction. They wil be judged more stictly. When we truly love Jesus, we will treat other with Love as well. For as he said “whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me”

  5. Pingback: Round 2 with another Fort McMurray Church kid |

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