David Brooks wrote a very powerful essay in the Sunday New York Times editorial section of February 6. I have been pondering his thoughtful words since I first read them.
I want to share just a few snippets to get your thoughts.
Here is one paragraph that caught my attention:
Russell Moore resigned from his leadership position in the Southern Baptist Convention last spring over the denomination's resistance to addressing the racial and sexual abuse scandals in its ranks. He tells me that every day he has conversations with Christians who are losing their faith because of what they see in their churches.
He made a haunting point last summer when I saw him at a Bruderhof community, which has roots in the Anabaptist tradition.
'We now see young evangelicals walking away from evangelicalism not because they do not believe what the church teaches', he said, 'but because they believe that the church itself does not believe what the church teaches.'
What do you make of this last statement?
Young people aren't necessarily walking away from the church because they don't believe what the church is teaching.
They are walking away, claims Russell Moore, because they do not believe that the church itself believes what it teaches.
Why? How are young people discerning that the church they attend doesn't believe what it teaches?
I can't say for sure, but I have a very strong hunch - based on lots of conversations I have had recently with young people - that it has something to do with their church's behavior.
Too often, we in the church proclaim a gospel of grace but live out a gospel of shame and judgment.
We profess to follow the radical and loving teachings of Jesus but live out the same boring, mean-spirited curriculum of the culture.
We lift up our faith as the center of our lives but give our time and attention away to cable news and social media.
We say that we are different from the world around us but we live in ways that make that alleged difference indiscernible. Or even worse, our "difference" is ugly; not winsome, other-centered or attractive.
My generation would do a great service to Jesus and the church he loves to listen, listen, listen to the young folks still in our midst.
Their eyes are keen, they have seen through the hypocrisy and if we listen well to them, they may just lead us back home.
This is good and I am happy you are getting at what seems to be the root of a lot of the problems. You may find the interview with Laurie Santos in the New York Times of interest. She discusses that the real benefit from religion may be so much in the beliefs but in the activities and connection that the church provides. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/02/21/magazine/laurie-santos-interview.html.