Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A 2018 Message & Response To Our Youth Pt. 1

Recently, after an all day high school, holiday basketball event, my wife and I were doing the "transport people home" thing, as somehow we occasionally get pegged to do this for some of the students that attend events, but who have no way home (for some reason), or whose home is just a little too far away to walk especially at night or during evening hours in the inner city. 

On this particular evening, I asked one of the young ladies, "What church do you go to?" 

She responded by saying, "I don't go to church"...

I said, "Really!?" 

Due to the apparent shock in my voice, she responded, "Why? Does that sound strange? There's a lot of us that don't go to church." 

She concluded by saying, "Plus, I don't have time for all that judgment anyway, I don't want to go to church and all them people judging me"..."So I read my bible and all, and believe in God, but I don't go to church"

Now, I wish I could say that my response was just so poignant that after dropping her off at home she quickly put on her church shoes and sat there waiting for our next service to begin, but that wasn't the case. 

My Initial Response

Immediately, I began to tell the young lady about the distinction between Jesus, the head of the church, and the human and flawed people within the church, explaining that Jesus is the object of faith, not the people, and that invariably humans will always fail.

I believe that is standard jargon from those of us who have been in the church for any length of time. 

I am sure that like her, you too can identify a bunch of folk that sometimes don't do right and that don't intend to do right and that even damage others either by misjudgments, the shoddy and raggedy lives that they live or by the fire of borderline hate and condemnation that they breath on others in the "name of the Lord". So in a sense, she was certainly right...too many times, it's the people IN the church that keep people on the outside, especially young people, away from the church. 

And the liberalism that the church adopts to "draw" the youth doesn't help either. Most young people I know consider the church greater hypocrites for mimicking the world while saying that they are different and unique from the world...Being and conducting ones self in the same manner as the world and attaching Jesus to those actions, as if that makes it OK, is NOT different, neither does it represent God's holiness. It seems that even the world doesn't want a fake! 

Thankfully, abandoning or staying away from church, is not my household issue and does not have to be the issue of others. As parents, even in modern time, you can live and love so until your kids being a part of the church is not a problem. It can be an expectation even as it is to my children. Church and church attendance can be a natural and normal way of life, and one that is comfortable to and with youth and young people, and knowing Jesus can be and should be something cherished by every generation of believer, from youth to aged. That is certainly in biblical order. 

In part 1 I will point our a few things that may be more of interest to adults who are in or a part of the church and in Pt. 2 I will deal more carefully with the young lady's retort and observation.  

Observance Of Topsy-Turvy Practices Within The Faith Community 

We are living in a society that may or may not be experiencing a decline in church attendance depending upon whom you talk to. Those statistical conflicts and information can be found HERE. No matter what you believe however, we should all be concerned about the current condition, welfare, and future of the church, because the past has revealed some serious flaws that may make the church as an institution fall in line with other irrelevant societal organizations if it is not careful.  

I believe that she (the student) speaks for a great number of young people. Those of us who are a part of the church readily see an absurd relationship of the church within society to some degree. 

Like you, I see excess, as some, claiming to be church leaders or otherwise church participants, live off the top, some apparently as kings, and on the backs of those who are involved with the daily struggle of life within the church.

Pastor Elvis Mbonye says
"Kiss my feet in honor of me"
Over the years, I've noticed for the truly "connected" (or at least so they appear to be) there is somehow always an excuse for their sins. Whether they be sins of lust, covetousness or something else, there is an excuse. There is a seeming demand that we (followers) don't look at the sins of these leaders or even talk about the fact that they, for example, abandoned wives and children for secretaries, destroyed churches and families trying to do the right thing by being faithful within their community of faith, by personal sins, molested children and sexually harassed church members and staff and the list goes on...

We observe a system turned completely on its head. In some cases very little accountability and even a smaller demand for integrity. A system in which those who are so called "servants" are being served and treating congregations and members as slaves. It is certainly a superiority complex or something to similar. 

For example, not too long ago, one charlatan basically said that people who didn't have a "major platform" couldn't call her into accountability. I suppose that she felt that her ability to appear on a cable network qualified as a "major platform" and only them on the "same level" could offer any pertinent information to her. This was as if she were some princess who could only be corrected by "kings" I suppose...WHAT A MESS!!!! That's certainly not being a servant, that just FLESH, STUPIDITY and superiority!

Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, it is the leaders who are living in and seeking excess that are the one's who get the "good seats" while you, who pay your money and volunteer exorbitant amounts of time to support it all, can't hardly get in the door or secure a seat. You are being told to help pay for Lear Jets and expensive cars, while begging for the church van to come get you on time for service "IF" a van is available for transportation at all. 

One can observe whole communities of faith that are disengaged and really don't understand the culture in which they are dealing because, in some cases, their membership has gotten older and detached from what is actually going on within society and within families related to the church and there is no energy to engage or do anything differently. 

The Changing Dynamic Of The Family

Profound community activist, Star Parker in an online article at Creators.com entitled "Marriage Collapse: White & Black" carefully outlines while people generally contend to be religious, especially within the Black community as a whole, the fact is that they are marrying less and less. She states:
Star Parker
"We get one hint in the new Pew report. Forty-eight percent of nonwhites, compared with 33 percent of whites, indicate they want to get married but say financial instability is the main reason that they have not. 
Why are blacks, on average, decidedly more financially unstable? One factor, which must be taken into account, is the disproportionate impact of the welfare state following the civil rights movement. Major welfare programs established in the late 1960s, which required recipients to be unmarried to qualify, followed shortly thereafter by the legalization of abortion in 1973, had a devastating effect on the black family. 
Data we have today should provoke a sense of urgency to focus policy on reversing the damage done by years of programs that have hurt the very low-income communities they were supposed to help. We need policies that protect life, and encourage marriage, ownership and individual responsibility."
With all of this said, is the church aware of the number of children in foster care? Although that number is down from its peek of over a half million children in 2002 to now just over 425,000 to 530,000 depending upon your resource, does anyone within the church care what that sort of detachment of children from their parents and history is actually doing to the spiritual integrity, morality and values of a generation of kids growing up within modern society? There are a wealth of foster children floating from home to home, experiencing sexual and physical abuse at the hands of individuals who are no better than the parents from whom the children were taken. 

HG.org Legal Resources in an online article, "Sexual Abuse: An Epidemic in Foster care Settings?" referenced a John Hopkins study stating the following:
"A study by John Hopkins University found that children who are in foster care are four times more likely to be sexually abused than other children not in this setting. Additionally, children who are in group homes are 28 times more likely to be abused than children not living in these homes."
That observation alone is the simultaneous reason that the number of children being born into single parent families is near 67% among Black women. Contrary to the assertion of many critics of the Black community, it appears that public policy lends to many Black women and men either delaying marriage or not getting married at all as opposed to the "moral crisis" that we often hear that is the case. What we can note in nearly any inner city setting is that many of those mothers appear to be younger and younger. 

What i wonder, is has the church considered that children raising children is not an idea, concept or arrangement that facilitates church growth or a healthy community?

Communication

I wonder is the church aware, that out of some 3,800 text messages sent and received on average per month by teenagers (ages 13- 17) on their electronic devices, that many of those messages use profane language, are sexually explicit in nature and sometimes have pornographic depictions and content? 

While the so called "leaders" are demanding Jets to fly around the country, or an additional tax free, allowance to pay for houses and cars and an entourage complete with cloned protegees to follow them, has the church and its leadership seriously considered what the bombardment of that sort of perversion that has targeted our youth actually done to their young minds and brains from a pathological point of view and what it (the church) must do in order to counter the effects of such damaging displays and communication?

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle   

Then, how about the unreported "latch-key" children, who are not in foster care, but basically raise themselves, preparing their own food and prepping for school everyday? These children do this either because parents are at work (some of these parents are good parents, just over-stressed and overburdened because the cost of living is so extremely high), or on drugs, or seeking companionship dangling on the promises of lovers whether they be married or single, or who just simply don't otherwise take the time to raise a child, but yet takes advantage of tax benefits, SNAP (food stamps) and or other welfare benefits. Then there are some [DIRTY DOGS!] who, trade their children in exchange for cash for part-time sexual sale to family members and friends usually for drugs or drug money. 

The Mission Field Of The Church

YES, the culture within which the church has to operate in 2018, has changed. The people to whom the church has to minister have changed. The values to which the church has to speak, are values which the modern church has not encountered in like fashion, with the complexities that it has been given, since it has existed within America. 

One thing is for sure, the church cannot continue to do what it has done and expect to meet our communities at the point of its need. We must abandon methods based and rooted in bad tradition and adopt methods, yet distinct from the world, but methods which uphold righteousness and delineate the difference between what is holy and that which is unholy. Our focus and center must be done in an effective, God fearing, and God honoring manner. The message of holiness and the power of the Spirit of the Lord has never been in more demand within our communities than it is now. 

Conferences won't save us. Titles and positions mean nothing! Call yourself whatever title you wish. NONE of those things will enlighten or impress today's youth, or our communities nor will they restore our families. The ONLY thing that will do that is God through and by his WORD, the further proclamation of diligent truth, and the power of HIS Spirit!

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