I was out to dinner last night with some friends. We were discussing, in part, a book by Author and Pastor Rob Bell. It’s called Love Wins. In it, he argues that God is indeed love and that we often fail to understand the expansiveness of that love. He looks at the Bible as a whole and discovers that our ideas of Heaven and Hell in American Christianity aren’t exactly a picture that the Scriptures paint. As we talked, it seemed that each of us who grew up in the church had a significant falling away from Christianity at some point in our lives. More than half at the table are currently distant from Christianity. We all very much appreciate Jesus and uphold his teachings. But, some of us haven’t found a deep connection to the religious tradition that followed the death of The Christ. Here’s an excerpt from a blog post from Christian Camp and Conference Association on this very topic:
“…First, Kara mentioned that in her research with 500 teens, the kids were asked to define Christianity. One in three youth did not mention Jesus in their definitions – and these were church kids who were active in youth groups across the country.
Kara also mentioned that in her studies, 40 percent of committed Christian high school kids walked away from their faith in their first year of college. The number struck home when Kara said something like: “So picture five great high school kids you know right now; then draw a red ‘X’ through two of them, because they are not going to hold onto their faith as they go through college.”
Why is that? One of the reasons Kara and her team believe kids walk away from their faith is that it isn’t deep, isn’t “sticky.”
She talked about Dallas Willard’s concept of a “Gospel of sin management” that replaces a real, vibrant relationship with Jesus, and instead presenting a list of do’s and don’ts, because that’s the easiest thing for parents and youth leaders to identify, to discuss and teach….”
Our mission is to help youth develop their relationship with God. This is a larger commitment than one week of summer camp. That’s the main reason we’re developing winter program. As we, the community of BBC, gather more, it becomes more possible to encourage each other along this road of following Jesus. Two of the key items we pack in our bags along this road is honesty and openness. I believe kids veer away from the church because they aren’t encouraged to express their views and share what they’re learning. When they do, they are sometimes met with answers rather than a listening ear and a desire to understand.
Here’s to trusting in a God that will honor our questions and concerns and use them to draw us nearer to himself.