This is a magazine article that was to be but will not...so before it disappears, I thought I'd post it here...
Hurtful church management caused a dissipation of the prominent ministry for college and young adults for which I was once on staff. My closest friends worked on staff with me, and they were dynamic ministry leaders. Upon the dissolve of the successful ministry, nearly all of them left never to reconnect again to a church body.
Granted, they had been burned badly by a poorly mishandled and hurtful process, but my heart breaks with the conversations to follow. There have been frequent references to their ‘reevaluation’ of the faith they have held for many years. These were the passionate and successful leaders for a demographic few churches understand how to reach.
Apostasy is at its most rampant in our culture today. Countless college students and young professionals walk away from their faith if they ever had it at all. Irrespective of our culture’s shift in this direction, we desire to live our life with others, but our desires are increasingly unmet in a culture, which grows more and more isolated.
With inclusive terminology, Hebrews 10:19-25 reminds us that Christians are NOT individuals; we are part of a community, a Church, a family, a group. We cannot be alone. We connect with God together. We hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.
The writer warns against apostasy, which is the deliberate departure from anything you have believed. Afraid they will walk away, he does not incite them to fight a solitary battle but a rallying hold to the hope they have always known.
The primary reason college students and young adults walk away from their faith is because they isolate themselves from the “us” of Hebrews and attempt to go it alone. We have to ask ourselves if it matters to us? This apostasy among college students is a result of our isolation.
What is more, we cannot allow people to isolate themselves. This has to mean more than talking to the lonesome person on a given Sunday. It means we recognize when someone has not been around for a while, and it concerns us. There is a constant ebb and flow to college and young adult ministry. You may float at about 60 people each night you gather, but you will generally see 1-5 first-time visitors each week. Are we concerned?
We are to ‘spur one another on’ and ‘not to give up meeting together as some are in the practice of doing’. The word ‘spur’ implies a sense of incitement and provoking. The challenge not to give up meeting together is not to forsake or abandon meeting together. The writer knows danger when he sees it, because when people walk away from connection with others, they almost inevitably walk away from faith.
The Church is in persecution in Hebrews, and these clusters of believers met together regularly exciting each other to keep hold of their faith and not to give up. Even in persecution they stood together to encourage one another to hold on to their faith. These were small groups, which grow more and more important in our church culture today, but they must begin to be recognized as utterly vital. It is time we begin recognizing the isolation of our culture for the critical faith pandemic it is. It cannot be okay to watch individuals isolate themselves from our communities, churches, and small groups.
Countless college students and young adults are walking away from their faith in your city because they are not connected to a group of people who care about them enough to spur them on, saying, “Please do not give up!”
My heart breaks at this reality, and it is my hope we would all begin to share this concern.
LISTENING TO: "Casually Smashed to Pieces" by The Six Parts Seven