According to a Barna Group survey conducted in 2016, nearly 60% of teens who grow up attending church walk away and become part of the unchurched population after graduating high school (roughly 45%). These numbers aren’t great; in fact, there are many that find them concerning and seek to offer solutions to the issues that are causing our youth to drop out of the church. Some of the studies that have been done on low church attendance among youth point to the need for revitalized programs and systems. If only the church would have a stronger youth ministry, or a greater focus on discipleship, or a more relatable sermon, or edgier worship music, or this, or that. While youth ministry is good and serves a good purpose, and while other programs and structures seek to serve the body in specific ways, the problem is not within these systems. The true issue is within misplaced responsibility. For too long, many have expected the church to do what is the God-ordained responsibility of the parents. Yes, the church makes disciples. Yes, we go to church to worship a God who is infinitely worthy of our praise. The primary disciple-makers of our youth, however, is not the church, it is the parents. Discipleship begins at home. Worship begins at home.
Christians have commemorated Christ’s resurrection since this historical and miraculous event occurred. However, the celebration of Easter began in the 2nd century, roughly 1,800 years ago. By reading through the New Testament, we can see how crucial the resurrection is to our Christian faith. Peter writes in 1 Peter 1, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” And in 1 Corinthians, Paul writes, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”
March 17th has long been observed as the feast day of St. Patrick in the greater Christian tradition. However, much of what is purportedly known about Patrick is traditional legend. Some of the stories that you may have heard about Patrick include his explanation of the trinity using a three-leafed clover, or the fact that Ireland does not have snakes because Patrick chased them all away. While these events cannot be definitively proven, and they do make for a great story, what we do know about Patrick is equally as fascinating and inspiring.
A new year is now in full swing, and I am sure that there are a number of New Year’s resolutions that we have already failed to keep. The anticipation of a New Year is always exciting, and we get caught up in the possibility of self-improvement. We think that a new year will bring a new version of ourselves, or a new life, or a new whatever. But when we wake up on the second of January, we soon realize that it is just another day, and we are still the same as we were the day before.
The Bible is one of the best selling and most influential books of all time. It has inspired movies, television shows, literature, art, education, healthcare, politics… the list could go on and on. The Bible has such an impact on our daily lives and culture that it is hard for us to imagine a world in which it did not exist. Yet even with its great influence and inspiration, the Bible has been, and continues to be, highly controversial.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas music is playing, trees are going up, cookies are being baked, and children are expecting to be visited by a heretic-slapping defender of the orthodox faith. Alright, you’ve probably never heard of that last holiday tradition, but St. Nicholas (apart from being the basis of the Santa Claus legend) is a big deal in the history of the church. He helped formulate one of the greatest creeds in Christendom.
“Post tenebras lux; after darkness, light.” These words were the motto of the Reformation. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Holy Catholic Church found herself victim of a series of scandals and abuses. One needs only to google the name of Pope Alexander VI or Pope Leo X to discover the controversies in which the church was involved. But something was stirring in a small German town in the Fall of 1517. A young radical monk was about to launch one of the greatest and most influential movements the world had ever seen. Light was about to shine in the darkness.