Matthew 28:16–20

Matthew 28:16-20

John was a good friend. We went through Junior High youth together at the church we attended. His family and ours regularly went to church. We went to Senior High youth group. We went to youth retreats and special events together. We sat through countless services and messages. We heard youth speakers and looked forward to life beyond high school. But then in our post high school years John began to hang out with different people. He began to say different things. And before I knew it he was gone from church – gone from our group and gone from a lot of what we believed through those years in youth group. What happened? Jim was another good friend – a missionary kid. I met him in High School and he began to hang around our little group of friends at school and church. He was a really good guy and I enjoyed spending time with him. We played some hockey together and looked forward to what University would bring. But then he began to change. He began to do things and try things that were quite different from our high school years. Until one day he told me he didn’t believe it anymore. “What do you mean by it,” I asked. “Everything. Christianity. Church. God – the existence of God. I don’t believe any of it.” And he was gone. Susan was another friend. She too grew up in a youth group and attended church regularly with her family. She went to summer camps and was really tight with her group of church friends. Then she graduated from high school. She got her degree and career. Though we lived in different cities, we kept in touch. She even came to visit a few times. Then one day we heard about a boyfriend. We were happy for her. Then we learned she was living with her boyfriend. They hardly went to church – just on Christmas and Easter to keep up the tradition. And if we tried to bring up anything related to her Christian faith it was met hostility or dismissed. And she was gone. I’ve seen this happen over and over again with friends from High School, friends from camp, friends from mission’s team and friends from Bible College and Seminary. I’ve seen it happen in families of churches I’ve pastored over the past 25 years. A family participates in a church. They bring their kids along. They all seem pretty happy to be there. But when the kids get out on their own, their real beliefs become clear. They stop coming. And often stop believing. Statistics bear this out. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada commissioned a study on young adults leaving the church. They entitled it “Hemorrhaging Faith.” It concluded that only one in three Canadian young adults who attended church weekly as a child still does so today. So that’s 66% or 2/3 have left…