It is just as I suspected. I was never, myself, convinced by Christianity through appeals to the afterlife, divine punishment or "sin." Christianity may be a language that we teach people to speak - and it just isn't being spoken by those immersed in contemporary culture.
Ruth Gledhill writes:
THE Church of England has debunked the widely held view that young people are spiritual seekers on a journey to find transcendent truths to fill the “God-shaped hole” within them.
A report published by
the Church today indicates that young people are quite happy with a life
without God and prefer car boot sales to church.
If they think about church at all, the images young people come up with are “cardigans”, “sandals and socks”, “corrupt”, “traditionalist” and “stagnant”.
Alright. We clearly need better fashion.
The authors began their work believing that even if the young had little knowledge of Christianity they would still have religious or spiritual yearnings. They were shocked to find that they did not.
Personally, the premise is pretty faulty. I remember thinking more about girls than God. And it was a lovely young violinist at Evensong that converted me to the mysteries of the church. The music! What kids are interested in is power.
people do not feel disenchanted, lost or alienated in a meaningless world.
“Instead, the data indicated that they found meaning and significance in
the reality of everyday life, which the popular arts helped them to understand
and imbibe.” Their creed could be defined as: “This world, and all
life in it, is meaningful as it is,” translated as: “There is no
need to posit ultimate significance elsewhere beyond the immediate experience
of everyday life.” The goal in life of young people was happiness
achieved primarily through the family.
The researchers were
also shocked to discover little sense of sin or fear of death. Nor did they
find any Freudian guilt as a result of private sensual desires. The young
people were, however, afraid of growing old.
In their advice to the
Church, the report’s authors say that the first thing to do is
“avoid panic”. It recommends means of reconnecting with young
people such as through alternative worship forms, traditional buildings, church
schools and civic occasions where Anglican clergy often officiate.
However, the authors
also note the obvious contrast between the view of Generation Y that life is
generally benign with the figures showing rises in eating disorders, substance
abuse, teenage suicide, bullying and sexual abuse.
The authors conclude:
“We live in an instant culture, which c ann
So what is at stake here? What is God telling us through this study? I think it is pretty clear that the traditional forms of evangelizing just won't cut it. We'll have to spend a lot more time thinking about who we are in relationship to youth culture.
Of course, it is possible that youthfulness should not be idolized. It is just one way of being fully alive.