When the Disillusioned Desert

“What are we doing wrong? What else can we do to bring in the young crowd? Why are they all leaving?” These sentiments are echoed throughout churches everywhere as pastors and their fellow ministry workers attempt to ascertain just why they can’t seem to keep a full flock, especially a full flock full of younger members.

They ask themselves how much more upbeat they can make the music without upsetting the older people of the church. They wonder if maybe they should split services. They ask if using The Message Bible would jive better with the younger crowd.

But, honestly, what is missing is the proper presentation of the Gospel. The Gospel is powerful, and the God behind the Gospel is more powerful than anything or anyone. We don’t need a rock show performance every Sunday or a hipper version of the Bible. We need an honest portrayal of the Gospel.

The Gospel is simple: we are all sinners; Christ came to die for us—atoning us with His blood—and rise again in three days’ time, conquering death and bringing life to all who accept His free gift.

Unfortunately, the Gospel has been twisted. Have you heard of the “Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Gospel”? It’s become far too common. The basic gist of it is this: if you believe in Christ as your Savior, you’ll live a life of leisurely comforts; you’ll be blessed financially; you’ll be living the best life you possibly could…and if you’re not? You must be in some kind of horrid sin.

But that’s not what the Bible teaches us at all! God’s Word is filled with not only examples of, but also statements that we ourselves will endure suffering, whether strong or slight; that we all have crosses to take up and carry for God (Luke 9:23); that the Christian life is far from easy. Unfortunately for our churches, that’s not what people—particularly young people—want to hear. They’d be much happier going to church once a week to sing some fun songs and listen to a message that makes them feel good and is over in time for the football game.

But what we need is to allow the Gospel and the God behind the Gospel to work their transformative power through truth. We may not see the fruits of our labors in the numbers on Sunday; we may feel that we’re failing to reach people, but God will, in His time, work out His perfect plan. We are simply to follow what is laid out before us.

“Being confident of this, that He Who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).

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