Each summer, we gather @1000 students from all over the world at our summer camp facility outside Durango Colorado. We call it “KIVU”
At KIVU we have the unique opportunity to welcome students from all sorts of faith backgrounds. Primarily our staff is dedicated to following Jesus, but we do have several faiths represented.
So when the research came out that 30% of all 30 and Unders are rejecting faith premise, I thought we had a viable cross-section of students to ask WHY?
So the question wasn’t meant to begin some sort of agenda
I certainly am not interested in trying to guilt and shame someone into faith
And for sure, I believe we owe it to our people to try to understand what’s going on in the broader culture
So yesterday I asked, “Why do you think people are leaving the faith in droves? What’s really going on? Why are the majority of your friends leaving the faith?”
Here’s what they told me…
1. The don’t want to be Labeled
As they tried to explain this, I tried to listen as best I can. But there’s something to the fact 30 and unders don’t want to carry labels with them. They’re afraid being labeled puts them in a box and they may find themselves wanting to exist outside that box. Labels define who gets asked to parties. Labels identify and are often negative. Labels can often lead to isolation and loneliness (which were several of the follow-up reasons to labeling.)
So, it looks like for all those people trying to stamp their label on a generation of youth with t-shirts, specialized media, or even “standing up for faith” in High School – We need to address this glaring concern. Kids don’t want to be labeled. Period.
They were all afraid that faith leads to a judgement, and judgement gives people the right to judge our own lives. There was a loud voice crying against hypocritical behavior and how some faith people seem to speak out against certain things. They saw it as forced, fake, and ignorant. They look at faith communities as places of extreme dishonesty, not able to connect what they preach with what they practice. (and if you’ve been around students at all in your life, you know they can smell this from a mile away.)
I found it interesting that judgement was so high on the list. I helped them see how they judge EVERYTHING in their world. From fashion to Media, they’re the experts in judging, until it comes to faith propositions. They love judging everything around them until they can look someone else in the eye and say, “I don’t think this is healthy for you or your family,” then judgement becomes intrusive. Include some sort of moral argument in there, and they RUN.
Most of the students polled said faith is a boring conversation. And for that, I say SHAME ON US!! As youth leaders to reduce the message of faith to some sort of boring conversation should be a crime. Jesus drew thousands to himself as a revolutionary in His day. And we’ve reduced the conversation down to what is most convenient and entertaining.
And before you think those two things are paradoxical…
Convenient and Entertaining are the illusive desires of our heart. We think if we remove all struggle and argument, then they’ll be a place where we can live in utopia. But the reverse is true.
As we remove the paradox and we don’t allow for a constant battle of the mind to take place, we make faith a vanilla conversation longing for something more.
Of course you reach a point in life where controversy and change are inconvenient, and they may cost you; but are we really ready to risk the irrelevance of faith for the sake of comfort?
Students want to battle.
They’re primed for the fight.
Today’s students have INCREDIBLE insight into what’s going on in the world, and I think those of us in leadership need to listen, guide, and then let go.
They’ve got this.
(*there were 40 other points they shared. these are simply the top three I felt incorporated most of the others in some shape form or fashion.)