I teach an online class on Christian theology. Designed for adults who didn’t complete college right after high school, the course often has students who are intimidated with taking a Christian theology course in person. In return, they usually take the opportunity and the online ‘security’ to be honest and discuss their spiritual lives with great honesty and detail.
Now, I haven’t conducted any rigorous research from the papers and discussion boards, but I have heard common themes over the past two years, 14+ classes, and over 200 students from the Midwest US. I have heard them share what happened in high school, often growing up in a ‘Christian’ home, and what happened since high school.
In light of the recent renewal in the faith development of young adults, I thought I’d share some anecdotal observations.
By far the primary detour from a solid Christian faith is the death of a loved one. Usually it’s a grandparent who has lived a long life, but the constant reality is that many of these people were unprepared for the confrontation of life’s end and the loss of a caregiver in their life.
The second most prominent issue is a confusion of what the Christian faith is about. As opposed to confession (Rom. 10:9-10) and a receiving of God’s grace (Eph. 2:8-9), the essence of Christianity is seen as a performance of obedience. So, instead of loving Jesus first and then obeying out of that love (John 14:15), the Christian faith is viewed as something we do to earn God’s favor. We ‘perform’ so that God will love us more and not hate us. (We all may benefit from memorizing Psalm 103 for our own understanding of how God operates).
The third one pours out of the second: They react to the hypocrisy and restrictiveness they see in some Christians’ lives. And often that restrictiveness is forced on their life, the proverbial list of do’s and dont’s that others construct for them to follow to be in. The hypocrisy is significant to most, an observed inconsistency with how people believe how how the act… usually how they treatthem.
I will talk about the hypocrisy issue in another post.
The final one is becoming more prominent: An inability to read, understand, and study the Bible. If I had a wish for youth workers, it would be for us to all to be excellent teachers of God’s Word, able to model a life of biblical understanding, and help our students mature in their ability to engage and apply Scripture to their lives.
I will be addressing these in coming posts, but what have you noticed about these? What might I have missed on this list?