Take Jesus’ message seriously: instead of asserting formulaic gospel claims, welcome young people into a Jesus-centred way of life.
Part 4 in a 7 Part Series on ‘Growing the Church Young’
“Yeah, I think the goal of our church is not really effectiveness with young people but serving and following Jesus. And young people like me are attracted to churches that want to do that,” – Adam, age 26 (p 126 – Growing Church Young)
Good news is always good news!
I know that sounds very simple. But how many people get drawn into a religion that is nothing more than moralistic therapeutic deism (MTD). Yep. That’s a thing!
Moralistic – meaning that faith is equated with being a good, moral, nice person.
Therapeutic – meaning that faith becomes a means of feeling better about oneself
Deistic – meaning God does exist but is not involved in human affairs with any regularity (p 130)
Luther was strong on the gospel. As someone who had lived all his life wanting to know if he was good enough, when he discovered that God was for him, no matter what, that what Jesus had done on the cross was enough – and that he was made right with God through what Jesus did, it turned his life around.
The good news is never about morality. It is always about what Jesus has done.
According to Powell, Mulder and Griffin, Churches that engage with and grow young are
- less about abstract beliefs and more about Jesus
- less about heaven and more about life now
- less about dogmatic certainty and more about authentic honesty
What does this look like?
- teach creeds over formulas – even if young people are invited to rewrite them in today’s language
- tell the narrative of God
- ask young people what they believe
- model sharing the gospel without judgement
- allow faith to be a journey
- share testimonies frequently
- lean into meaningful rituals – allow young people to create rituals
- embrace the exploration of doubts
To think about and discuss
- Reflect on the quote by Adam. What stands out for you?
- What do you understand by ‘good news’?
- What words or phrases are used to talk about Jesus, the gospel and evangelism?
- To what extent is Jesus spoken about in your church – in a meaningful, relevant, authentic way?
- How are all people allowed to explore where faith and life intersect