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?