Someone sent me a link to an interesting article from the New York Times: Teenagers Mix Churches for Faith That Fits. You have to register to read the article, but it’s free. I will make a few comments on the article as well as share some thoughts that go well beyond the topics covered there.
According to the article “in a survey of 13- to 17-year-olds conducted from 2002 through 2003, the National Study of Youth and Religion found that 16 percent of respondents participated in more than one religious congregation.” It would be interesting to see a comparable study of other age groups, because this behavior is not limited to teenagers. We can admire their passion for God and desire to learn more, and in some cases their family church might not have a strong youth ministry. But we also need to consider our view of the church.
One statement that troubled me is the following:
“I saw that my parents’ relationship to Christ and my relationship to Jesus Christ were different, and my kids aren’t going to relate to Jesus Christ the same way we do,” said Emily’s mother, Tracy Hoogenboom, 49. “And that’s to be expected because Jesus Christ is your own personal lord and savior.”
It’s true that God deals with each of us as individuals. But He also is consistent with who He is. The Bible does not say that “Jesus Christ is your own personal lord and savior.” I wonder if that’s like having your own personal computer, your own personal cell phone, and your own personal iPod. Has Jesus become another personal accessory to our lives?
Lest you think I’m being too hard on this statement, consider this: “The message spoke to me a lot,” Hannah said. As for attending two churches, she said, “It’s not hard for me at all because I feel like my needs are being fulfilled.” Of course we should attend a church that will help us to grow spiritually, but is there more to it than having my needs met? Is the church more than a self help society?
In our day there is a poverty of understanding of the nature of the church. The church is the Bride of Christ, dedicated to Him. The church is His body, obedient to the directions give by its divine Head. The church exists to bring glory and praise to Jesus Christ, not merely to meet our needs.
I’m not saying that a person should stay in a church that does not provide solid Bible teaching or is not a spiritual vibrant community. It is not necessarily to stay in a dead church year after year simply on the basis of loyalty. But on the other hand there is no perfect church, and if God has called you to a certain church then it is important to make a commitment.
The sad thing is that there are many people today who are extremely lonely have a deep longing for genuine community, yet they are afraid to make the type of commitment that is a prerequisite to experience community. So instead of making a serious commitment, they wander from church to church looking for the community that they are never going to find. The reason that they will not find community is not that it does not exist, but that in order to experience community you must become a part of the community. And that requires commitment.