“64% of young adults are leaving the church” It’s difficult to not have these words continue to swirl around in my mind, after hearing David Kinnaman share the latest stats to come out of the Barna research group.
At the risk of sounding sensational, this is a staggering statistic. It’s a number like this that causes my initial reaction to just want to do a complete 180. To instantly stop and re-think everything. To press the “explode” button and just start all over again with the church. To ask “what can we possibly do about it?” But then the rational side of me kicks in and says “just take a breath Karmyn”
It was such a privilege to have a conversation with some fantastic church leaders on See, Hear Love. It was the Power-Pastor-Panel! (Melinda’s words, not mine!), to discuss exactly this: How should we respond to a statistic like this? What does this mean for our ministries? How we lead? How we follow Jesus? And truthfully this conversation gave me some hope.
In Kinnaman’s latest book, Faith for Exiles, while he does present the current (bleak) realities and landscape of our culture, he also says “and here’s what we can do about it”.
And in the midst of our conversation, I was reminded that the truth of who Jesus is is life changing. And yes, there is work for the church to do. We need to steward well this time and culture we find ourselves in. We need to guard against presenting a version of Jesus that is shallow and consumeristic. We need to fight against the fear to neatly tie up every difficult question with a concise, certain answer. We need to provide space and set the example of what it looks like to follow the pace of Jesus’ life, not the frenetic race that our culture provides. There is work ahead, but we can do it!
And so while the statistic may paint a daunting picture of the future of the church, may we be reminded that Jesus still leads the Church, and that we have been called to make disciples for such a time as this. Let’s step boldly into that call and follow Jesus’ lead for what the future of the church in North America will be.
(And maybe, at times, that really does mean pressing the explode button)
Karmyn Bokma is the Lead Pastor at The Meeting House, Oakville