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Rebuilding for Revival

We have spent a lot of time trying to figure our how to “do” youth and young adult ministry and we often think that the most creative, world-influenced fad will do the trick. But maybe the best direction is to head backwards… Rich Atkinson is doing young adult ministry in Britain and is building, or should we say, rebuilding, ministry based off of Isaiah 58:12. “And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.”

Atkinson claims that the young adult ministry of the future will be more rooted in the past. “This is why that I don’t believe the answer to the church of the future is in the future. I wonder if, rather than constantly trying to re-imagine the church, we should learn to look at some of the successes of the last 2,000 years of church history.”

“I believe this generation of youth and young adults is called to be the generation that rebuilds the church in the western world.”

Instead of the youth culture mandate of entertainment and the latest in cultural trends, Atkinson advocates a return to the transformative work of Christ and the work of those that have gone before. I think I agree with him and I am attempting to incite a movement to reclaim the truth of Christ among young adults.

So are we done with the games and ready for the gravy?

Atkinson says, “If we want to rebuild a movement that burns through the generations instead of dying like a flash-in-the-pan encounter with God, then we need to enable people to translate the amazing encounters they have with God into life-changing discipline. So as we look back to look forward… I see the future of youth and young adults ministry being marked by a generation that recaptures the truth that they have been transformed entirely by the amazing grace of God and then works that out with intense focus and discipline.”

“Maybe then our generation’s recurring comment will be, “The only response to the outrageous grace of God is a life disciplined to be totally orientated toward Him.”

Read his whole post here and check out this video for the young adult ministry he leads.

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Young Adults and Moralism

Relevant has an article online about some of the reasons that young adults are leaving the church. One point from Kara Powell, executive directors of the Fuller Youth Institute, sticks out to me and is something I deal with a lot.

“We asked our students when they were college juniors, “How would you define what it really means to be a Christian?” and one out of three—and these were all youth group students—didn’t mention Jesus Christ in their answer; they mentioned behaviors. So it seems like [young adults] have really picked up a behavioralist view of the Gospel. That’s problematic for a lot of reasons, but one of which is that when students fail to live up to those behaviors, then they end up running from God and the Church when they need both the most.”

Bam. Christ-less Christianity. While obedience is a vital part of our faith let’s not for a second preach that salvation is about do’s and don’ts. Christ’s work on the cross covers your sin and in light of that you live differently. I have this conversation regularly with young adults wrestling with what it means to be a Christian. The church has to do better than the moralistic modes of the past. When we feel like we can’t live up to salvation (which we can’t) we miss the point of Christ’s work on the cross.

There are myriad other issues that drive young adults from the traditional church and we must challenge them. This does not mean you change style or carpeting but instead get Christianity right and makes things of first importance important again.

Read the Relevant article here.