We cannot survive without him. This is as true today as it has ever been. Australian society has changed radically over the past 50 or 60 years and has significantly impacted the church. It has left many followers of Jesus shell-shocked and disorientated.
Recently, negative attitudes toward the church, Christian culture and Christians in general, have noticeably increased. Again, we are somewhat lost as to how to respond. While it may be tempting to bunker down and withdraw, we have a responsibility to help new Christians learn how to follow Christ faithfully in this new environment.
This is particularly true of those in the emerging generation. Sometimes dubbed “mosaics,” because of their eclectic relationships and thinking styles, these young people aged 12-30 (born between 1984 and 2002) have grown up during this enormous cultural shift. Not surprisingly they wrestle with how to be Christians in today’s world.
In his book, You Lost Me, David Kinnaman focuses on those in this age group who went to church as teens but dropped out after high school. He divides them into three types, ‘nomads’ who have drifted away from church but still think themselves Christians; ‘prodigals’ who no longer have faith at all; and ‘exiles’ who still retain a connection to church but are caught between contemporary culture and the church. He suggests the church has much work to do in discipling young people who are in our churches.
While it is true that there is no easy pathway to live as a Christian in a culture that sees us as hypocritical and irrelevant, nevertheless the church has a responsibility. The church needs to be an environment where we can learn how to be Christians in a faithful and effective way in the face of our culture.
That is where the Holy Spirit is so helpful. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would lead us into truth (John 16:13), and would be our advocate as well as our teacher (John 14:26). When he told his disciples it was better for him to go so the Spirit could come, he was also speaking to us.
May we humble ourselves before God and acknowledge our need of him. May God bless our young adults, young people and children that they may find in us a church who provides the support, encouragement and training they need to be faithful followers of Jesus in today’s world.
Stephen L Baxter