- Saturday, May 11, 2024

There have been many theories put forth in recent years as to why young people are suffering a crisis of faith and leaving the church in increasing numbers.

Matt Chandler, senior pastor of Village Church in Texas, believes Christian deconstruction can be chalked up to a lack of intentional discipleship in the church that has left young Christians largely unprepared for a life of faith.

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“I think we have a significant and profound discipleship issue in the church where we have not done a good job of explaining the realities of being human beings, even in Christ,” Pastor Chandler said in a recent interview with The Washington Times Higher Ground. “And that means there’ll be disappointment, there’ll be frustration. They’ll be suffering, there’ll be disillusionment, and all of that is in the Bible. Like we shouldn’t be surprised by it, but because we so want to kind of just get the decision [from people to accept Christ], I get anxious sometimes that we kind of soft-sell the reality of after that decision.”

The problem, Pastor Chandler says, is that young people are making a declaration of faith and then failing to grow in that faith. Because of that, they are often unequipped to handle what the world inevitably throws at them.

“What ends up happening is Jesus, if we’re not careful, becomes this kind of errand boy where we ring this bell and we’re fully expecting He’s going to give us that thing we ask for. And Jesus isn’t anyone’s [errand boy],” he noted. “And that’s when I think the real disillusionment begins — when it wasn’t that this pastor that failed you or this guy at the church that failed you, but you feel like it was Jesus that failed you.”

The 49-year-old husband and father of three said that the solution is for churches to do a better job of coming alongside young people to help them mature in their faith so that they better understand who Jesus is and how their lives should reflect him. After all, Jesus’ command in the Bible is to “go and make disciples,” which speaks to strategic and intentional behavior by church leaders and the body of Christ.

“I think we have to learn to be patient with the process. The process of sanctification is lifelong. I would call it the long journey home, and it is full of ups and downs and mountaintops and valleys,” Pastor Chandler said. “And some of those mountaintops are extended. Most of them aren’t. And a lot of those valleys are extended, but most of them aren’t. And so, I think there has to be an awareness that the Lord is accomplishing something in this season, even if I’m not enjoying this season, and to move towards the Lord in the season of, ‘I feel stuck here.’”

Despite the declining spiritual state of our nation, Pastor Chandler feels a sense of hope when he considers the positive impact he believes Gen Z will have on the church. In fact, he recently spoke at a Culture Summit for Thinq, an organization dedicated to teaching young people how to effectively engage pressing topics in the culture from a biblical perspective, and was so encouraged by what he saw.

“I was in a room with just hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Gen Z leaders, not all of them in the church world, like a designer at Nike, a pretty famous DJ, and man, they are beginning to leave their mark on the church,” he noted. “They are bringing energy, vitality, beauty into the church. And I, like I said, I couldn’t be more excited about how they’re going to leave their mark on the church of the future.”

Marissa Mayer is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in Christian Post, The Daily Signal, and Intellectual Takeout. Mayer has a B.A. in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Arizona State University.

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