Faking It

Screaming CoachYou’ve probably seen the story in the past week. It’s been all over the youth blogosphere: More Teens Becoming “Fake” Christians. In her new book, Almost Christian, author Kenda Creasy Dean reports on the findings from a recent study of 3,300 teens. She discovered that “most American teens who called themselves Christian were indifferent and inarticulate about their faith… Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good – what the study’s researchers called ‘moralistic therapeutic deism.'”
According to Dean, most teens don’t share their faith and instead live it out by trying to “do good” without bothering others.
I could go on about the study’s results, but they get a little depressing. Go ahead and read the book or the numerous articles if you want to hear more. For one, I’m not all that surprised by Dean’s findings. For the teens in our youth groups, it doesn’t seem like much of anything in terms of faith goes beyond the surface level. Sure, there are a select few who “get it.” With these kids, you see powerful, dramatic ownership of faith in their lives. But if we’re honest, there’s a whole middle majority of young people sort of floating along in the middle. They call themselves Christians, but there isn’t any fruit there to prove it.
Dig a little deeper, and I think this reflects the general state of the church. In many churches, 10 percent of the people do 90 percent of the work. Your church and mine may be the exceptions, but overall, those numbers hold true. We’re missing committed Christians who believe they can and should be leaders and world-changers.
Last week, I spoke with another youth worker who told me that a main issue within her church was that there weren’t any leaders. It was filled with people who were spiritual babies. They were people who had a conversion experience, but never moved on from that. For years, they’ve show up every Sunday, listened to a message, and then left to go live their lives completely unaffected until the following week.
Is that what youth group is like, too?
If kids really are almost Christian, are we settling for surface-level commitment? Are we telling them, not in words but in our actions, that it’s okay to just show up?
If my screaming, ranting Pop Warner football coach taught me anything, it’s that just showing up doesn’t cut it. On the football field, first you show up, then you fight like you mean it. It’s not something you can fake.
The Christian faith isn’t something you can fake, either. It isn’t just about being polite or nice or merely loving others through good works. It’s about believing in a life-changing gospel, then sharing that good news with everyone you meet because they need to hear it, too. That’s the mission we’ve been given.
How are you pushing your students to fight like they mean it? What are the opportunities you’re giving them to help them go deeper, to own their faith, and to be more than just a good person who shows up on time?
The article has been a bit of a reality check for me. It’s caused me to think about how I own my faith. Then, it’s gotten me thinking of new ways to help disciple the youth in my group to the point where they feel it’s not about listening to a leader talk every week and trying to be a good person, but rather it’s about going out and freely sharing the good news they’ve received because they simply can’t contain it anymore. I want them to show up and then fight (with love!) like they mean it. 
(Image via Picasa)