"God" is Dead or What Happens When Religion is "Cool"
No one needs to be told that the thing about trends is their imminent demise. Or that nothing is more uncool than the thing that was cool two weeks ago. Or that whatever fad you personally threw yourself into most deeply in your teenage years (whether it's evangelical Christianity, alcoholic clubbing, or death metal ear-to-ear and head-to-toe) is likely to be the site and subject of your most cringe-worthy memories.
It is, therefore, no surprise that 88% of Southern Baptist teens are leaving the church upon, or not longer after, graduation:
Dr. Frank Page, the denomination's new president, says SBC churches need to counter that statistic by finding ways to make themselves more relatable, more pertinent and significant to students before they graduate.
"We're seeing a societal trend where a large number of young people are opting out of the church," Page notes. "Estimates of 15 to 20 million people now in America have said they are Christians but they simply don't want to be a part of the church," he says.
Some blame the church "drop-out rate" among young people after they graduate on the secularist influence of America's public schools. However, the SBC's president observes, "The sad thing is that we're seeing that number of dropouts from church [among] those who went to public school and private school, and that's an unfortunate trend."
A trend for a trend, I'd say. For a decade and a half, youth groups have been crescent-fresh party-time, complete with their own bands, their own witty sloganed t-shirts, their own slang, their own Christians-Gone-Wild spring breaks ("mission trips"), their own pretty boy "trend-setter" leadership. And what did they get: the same thing every other trend got: relegated to humorous anecdotes of shame, dragged out on parties or fourth dates, after a couple drinks, complete with photos (see above).
Of course, the SBC has a plan:
The Southern Baptist leader says churches must find ways to connect with this young adult demographic -- Generation X, the bridger generation, or "whatever you want to call it" -- and must do a better job of discipling members of this group. A big part of the problem, he contends, "is that our churches simply are not relating to or seeming relevant to these students."
Being "relevant" and "find[ing] ways to connect with this young adult demographic" is what killed them to begin with because their notion was that youth wanted a lifelong Sprite campaign. Hip faith is not lasting faith. Ask the followers of the Maharishi, circa 1968.