I read as much as a can... sometimes it's a lot and other times just rarely. What's "fun" for me to read are mostly books about Christianity... whatever angle that might be. The book I'm reading right now, You Lost Me, is one of many I've read about the struggle that many people have in their faith life during the ages of 15-25. For a variety of reasons, across denominations, this is largely an absent section of the population. There are reasons for sure... some feel they have to choose between faith and science. Others state they believe in Jesus, they just don't think that the church is a good representative of Him. Some simply feel that the church has never helped them apply faith to their daily lives.
Now there are probably a lot of reasons contributing to this. One of the things I find most interesting and convicting though is the idea that the "dropout" struggle isn't a problem; it's a symptom. More specifically, the faith struggles of teenagers and young adults are just the visible symptom of the faith life of adults. In other words if we think they are apathetic about their faith maybe it's because we are. This is something that's suggested by a number of people, Kendra Creasy Dean in Almost Christian, Dave Kinnaman in You Lost Me among others.
I've thought about it a lot and I wonder how true it really is. I mean just about everyone I know would say that investing in youth is the most important thing we can do as a faith community. We have staff, programs, events and partnerships all focused on helping youth and young adults grow in faith. I can't help but ask myself, when was the last time we (aka the rest of the "adults" in the faith community) invested in the life of a youth or young adult? By invested I don't mean money, I mean taking time with them and telling them our own personal faith stories. If we think it is so important to grow in your faith, then we should be taking time to share our stories of faith. If you were one of those who stayed active in the church why not regularly tell the story of why it so important to me to have been involved in the church during High School or College and beyond. If you weren't, are you willing to articulate to someone why you wish you had been? Can you tell someone what you think you missed by not being involved in a faith community those years?
If we, as adults, cannot look back and tell the story of why our faith has been important to us no amount of programs, staff or partnerships will ever have the result we are looking for. I am increasingly convinced if we want our young adults and youth to have vibrant and active relationships with Christ we need to make the investment ourselves - all of us. We need to be open and honest, build relationships and tell our stories of faith. Youth and young adults don't struggle with faith for a lack of information... they have all the information they need. Maybe they struggle because they don't understand why they should pursue it in the first place. Maybe those books are right - they struggle, because we struggle. While none of us ever have a "perfect" faith hopefully we have a faith worth expressing, and if we aren't apathetic about our faith we should stop acting like it and keeping it to ourselves. We have the reason, the experience and the stories others need to hear. We just need to make the investment in their lives. Expecting a younger generation to do something "just because" just doesn't cut it anymore.