2019年4月30日 星期二

如何才能堅固(青少年)信仰 (下)

在前一天中我們提到青少年在遇到生活上的重大改變,又遠離父母的督促,年輕的基督徒,信仰在這個時候第一次受到了重大的考驗;根據調查統計,有四分之三甚至是更多的年青基督徒,就在這個時候遠離,或至少是暫時的遠離的教會;
 
當然年青並不是就表示信仰就一定不堅固,我們在上一篇中也舉例但以理以及其朋友們都是在少年時就被擄去巴比倫,生活在拜偶像的環境中,連在上掌權者也是如此,但是他們的信仰卻依然堅固,抵抗所有的外力攔阻,一生一世的信神沒有改變;
 
所以我們不可讓人小看我們的年青,這是保羅對提摩太所說的;然而另一方面,我們也不要小看別人的年青,就認為他們的信仰一定不堅固,特別是自己的後輩;然而人的信仰總要從某處開始的,在羅馬書的一開始我們就說:「這信是由於信,以至於信」,每一個人的信仰都必需要經過一個堅固的過程;
 
雖然本文的標題是如何堅固青少年的信仰,但是其實堅固信仰是每一個人都需要的,不論其年紀的大小;我們一方面要堅固自己的信仰,如果可以的話,也要幫助我們的弟兄姊妹堅固他們的信仰,以我的淺見,堅固信仰可以從以下的幾種方式入手:
 
(一)榜樣:人是群體的動物,我們是看著別的人過自己的生活;而我們也有一句話說「榜樣的力量是無窮大的」,所以我們的信仰也是需要有榜樣;教會裡的牧師、傳道、授課的老師很自然的都是我們信仰上的榜樣;不只是聽他們講些什麼,更重要的是要看他們如何的行出來,也就是身教;
 
有一些牧者或是講員,在台上所講的是一回事,但台下在生活中又是另一回事,這樣所傳的便是口是心非的道;或者雖然是言行一致,但是連在台上所講的道,都對神缺少敬畏;如果我們常常所看的榜樣就是不敬虔不愛主的,那我們自己,還有所培養的後代就很難是敬虔愛主的;
 
對於青少年而言,作為父母的我們,會是比牧師傳道還要更重要的榜樣,因為他們每週看見牧師不到兩小時,但是他們每天都看到我們,並且是在最真實的生活當中看見我們;我們對神的態度,是否常常讀經、禱告、親近神;還是只有在有所求的時候才來到神的面前,他們都看在眼裡;
 
(二)真道:聖經的啟示最大的的功效是讓我們真實的認識神,我們所聽得的道就是信的種子;榜樣雖然重要,但是所有地上的榜樣最終都是指向神的啟示,就算地上的榜樣都失敗,我們還有在聖經中可以見到的榜樣,亞伯拉罕,約瑟,但以理;當然終極的榜樣就是那道成肉身,來到人間的我主耶穌基督;
 
除了榜樣以外,聖經中也有那來自天上的教訓,告訴我們信心應該是怎樣的信心,根據這信心,我們當生出什麼樣的生命和行為出來,這些都寫在了聖經裡;但是正如我們在上一篇中所述,因為錯誤的教導或是解讀,許多青少年對於神的認識是停在道德、治療、自然神論的裡面;如果神只是依附在自然之上,那難免我們的對神的態度就變得輕忽和隨便;這不是對創造及掌控自然的神所應有的態度;
 
(三)實操:我們說神是要經歷了,在我們的生活中能夠經歷神,自然是最好的信仰的堅立;雖然經歷神是完全在乎於神的揀選,但是神也告訴我們:「神向愛他守他誡命的人,守約施慈愛,直到千代」(申七:9)一個人能夠愛神、守神的誡命,那麼他應該是被揀選的才能作到,這樣就完成了神的守約;
 
主耶穌也是這樣告訴我們,馬太福音七章「24 所以,凡聽見我這話就去行的,好比一個聰明人,把房子蓋在磐石上。 25 雨淋,水沖,風吹,撞著那房子,房子總不倒塌,因為根基立在磐石上。 26 凡聽見我這話不去行的,好比一個無知的人,把房子蓋在沙土上。 27 雨淋,水沖,風吹,撞著那房子,房子就倒塌了,並且倒塌得很大。」
 
可見行道、正是堅立信仰的最重要一環;一個人不管他對神的道認識的再深,但如果那些道他都行不出來,那麼他的信仰仍然是未經考驗的,是根基淺的,是危險的,可能一遇到考驗(父母不在身邊督促,被同學灌輸了不同的觀念),他的信仰就崩壞了;
 
所以我們父母的不要什麼事都替子女做好了,不要將子女保護的太好了,將一切的事都替他們安排好了;例如不讓子女練習從自己的零用錢中間拿出來自己練習奉獻;這樣反而阻礙了他們經歷神,堅立信心的機會;求神看顧我們以及我們的子女,使我們能更多的經歷你,感謝讚美我們的主。


神所衡量給我們的(林後10:13)

哥林多後書十章:「12 因為我們不敢把自己與某些自薦的人同列或比較。他們以自己來衡量自己,以用自己來比較自己,他們是不領悟的。13 我們不會在界限以外誇耀,而是在神分給我們的界限範圍內誇耀,這界限甚至一直達到你們那裡。 14 的確,我們沒有過於擴張自己,好像達不到你們那裡;實際上我們帶著基督的福音已經來了,甚至遠到你們那裡。15 我們並沒有在界限以外,以別人的勞苦誇耀。我們只是希望,隨著你們信仰的增長,我們的範圍就會因著你們更加擴大」
 
大家有沒有注意到,我們今天所引用的數節經文是出自新譯本而非和合本,因爲這幾節經文的意義比較不明確,各個翻譯本的差別會比較大,我覺得新譯本的翻譯會比較接近原文,比較不會像和合本就把界限直接帶往地域疆界上面去了,所以我在這裡採用新譯本的經文。
 
在前面我們說到世人,以及某些傳道人會用自己的方式來量度自己、衡量自己,為什麼這些人會要量度自己呢?因為他們想要顯出來,他們自己是多麼的出色,多麼的有成就,也就是想要有個誇口的依據;但是保羅說,他不會加入那些人所玩的這種無聊的「遊戲」;
 
保羅說,他不會在他的量度之外來誇口,而這個量度是神所賜給他的;中文這裡所翻出來的界限,其實是和12節中的他們自己「衡量」自己的衡量,在原文中是同一個意思;也就是說世人是自我衡量之後、然後據之誇耀,但是保羅卻是要因為神給他的衡量而可以誇口;
 
所以我們可以誇口嗎?自誇是不好的,自我感覺良好而又自己誇口、是人和神都不喜悅的;像是有的政府就是如此行的,搞到人民都非常的反感,不是嗎?但是基督徒若是因為神所給的考核(衡量)不錯,那我們可以拿出來稍稍的講一講,那就不算是違反神的心意,因為是神給的嘛!
 
那什麼是神所給的考核(衡量)呢?保羅在這裡又把他們宣教的地界當做神所給的衡量;這在中文和英文中都是翻成了相同的一個詞、界限/measure,但是保羅所寫的希臘文的原文卻是不同的兩個字;這可能在寫作上是通用的,但是使徒保羅卻特別的選用了不同的兩個字,你可以說這是使文章生動一點也好,或者就是保羅還是清楚的區分這兩者;
 
什麼意思呢,保羅就是將神所量給他宣教/傳道有果效的地界,當作是神量給他的衡量;我們前面不是說世人是自己衡量自己、是不好的;那保羅就拿神量給他的地界,當作是神給他的衡量;這個觀念並不是只有保羅自己提出來的,古時許多地區或是王國都是用封地或是屬民的大小多寡,來做為他們官大官小的衡量,並且他們向人介紹他們自己的時候這樣講也是合宜的,不會因為自大、誇口而開罪於王;
 
所以有的諸侯是分封的萬戶侯,有的諸侯卻只得有五千邑,這種分辨的方法,就是與保羅的概念是相同一個概念;聖靈既然啟示感動保羅,並且也將這一段錄入聖經,可見這其中也有神的心意;
 
那麼如果傳道人和人誇這個,就不算是不好的誇口了嗎?我還是要說不一定,講到這裡的時候我想起聖經上有提到的「數點人數」,舊約有兩次著名的數點人是;一次是摩西按照上帝的吩咐去數點以色列人的數目;另一次是大衛王的數點人數;摩西的數點人數是合神心意的,但是大衛王的數點人數卻惹得神發怒;
 
為什麼大衛的數點人數惹了神發怒呢?因為大衛自己覺的他的國大力強,可以依靠自己的國力,就想要知道自己的實力有多少;而神叫摩西點數人數呢,卻是要叫摩西知道自己的責任,要叫以色列人數算自己的恩典,看哪、那麼多的百姓,神不是都養活了嗎?
 
保羅寫這個地界的事情,也讓我們看到他對劃歸給他的弟兄姐妹們是盡心盡力,又教導又關心,就是要傳道人明瞭神給人的界限(疆界)和責任是一體的,這既是給傳道人的榮耀,也是責任和託付,得到的能力越大者要盡更大的責任;感謝讚美我們的主,願上帝賜福給我們。
 
 

2019年4月29日 星期一

相比是無益的(林後10:12)

哥林多後書十章:「11 這等人當想,我們不在那裡的時候信上的言語如何,見面的時候,行事也必如何。 12 因為我們不敢將自己和那自薦的人同列相比。他們用自己度量自己,用自己比較自己,乃是不通達的。 13 我們不願意分外誇口,只要照神所量給我們的界限夠到你們那裡。」
 
保羅說我們不「敢」將自己翰那自薦的人同列相比,保羅是大有信心的使徒,是神的僕人,他怎麼會不敢與那些假使徒、假師傅相比呢?是禱告比不上他們有果效嗎?是神可能會給那些人更大的神蹟奇事嗎?這些都不是保羅不「敢」與這些人相比的原因,保羅會這樣說,實在是另有原因的;
 
其實問題的癥結是在於這些人所要比的是什麼?他們所要比的乃是在血氣的範圍裡面,雖然狀似在屬靈的範圍、其實是在血氣的範圍;我可以想像他們會自誇:你看我多會禱告、你看我去過多少教會、拿了多少薦信,還有你看我生活多麼屬靈,一天禱告七次、一週禁食兩次;
 
我自己經歷過某些教會,教會裡就充滿這樣的比較,最常見的就是比較誰比較會說方言,在靈恩派的教會裡面,會說方言以經不稀奇了,現在他們還比較誰更會說方言;通常他們同聲開口禱告,能聽懂的禱告詞大概只有三五句,接下去就有人轉成方言禱告了;
 
一旦有人開始方言禱告,我再用悟性禱告、好像就沒有他屬靈,於是我也轉用方言禱告,並且要更急促、更大聲,最後人人如此,方言聲此起彼落,好不熱鬧,直到大家覺得沒意思為止,就結束禱告;有許多的人比賽方言,有一些人會比賽禁食,常常會說我上次禁食七天,我十天,甚至有人禁固體食物到四十天之久的;
 
還有人似有似無的在比較誰有更好的見証、誰更幸運?你揀到錢,揀到多少?我下雨天出門沒帶傘,但是我要過街的時候雨剛好變得很小、甚至暫停;啊,還有停車位,我開車到很多人的賣場,很難停車,但是我開到近門口的時候,剛好有人開走,留下一個空位給我;像這樣子的見証可以是沒完沒了的;
 
我們要和他們比較這些嗎?保羅說他不敢和他們並列相比,真的是因為比不過才不敢比嗎?絕對不是,而是這種比較又有什麼意思呢?所以事實上不是「不敢」,實際上乃是「不屑」;我們若是陷入這種無益的比較裡面,就是將自己降到與他們同樣的程度去搶食了;
要知道他們是自己度量自己的人,他們所尋求的判斷也就是他們自己,你要怎麼和裁判比賽?如果陷入這種比較,不但是我們自降屬靈的高度,而且還是缺乏智會了;
 
彼此相比這種事、如果不是犯罪,那至少也是主不喜悅的;主耶穌基督的門徒在主還在帶領他們的時候,常常會爭誰為大,福音書有不只一次記載了這樣的事,例如馬太福音23章,每一次有比較的事發生時,主到告訴門徒們不要比誰為高,反而要去看誰可以服務更多人,可以說沒有一次例外;
 
馬太福音23章主的話:「11 你們中間誰為大,誰就要做你們的用人。 12 凡自高的,必降為卑;自卑的,必升為高。」;自高是主動,降為卑是被動的,自卑(謙卑)是主動,被升為高是被動的;
 
保羅不和人相比,到後面他會說他自知他自己不在最大的使徒之下,但是他從來沒有要和彼得、約翰等使徒比大小的意思;然而我們常常可以見到他與其他人在真道上辯論;那個不是比較,那樣作是要救人的靈魂,否則就會有多人會喪失在錯誤的教導之下,這是一種非常重要的服事,是要將人的靈魂搶救回來,但是也要在聖靈的帶領底下行之,不可流於血氣的辯論;
 
我想保羅要給我們的教訓很明白,和主的教訓也是一致的,就是我們不要去和人相比,只要按照主所劃給我們的地界,好好的、盡心盡力的去服事人;我們不和人相比不是害怕他們,如果因為搶救靈魂而有必要,我們絲毫不怕與之相爭;感謝讚美我們的主,願上帝賜福與我們。


2019年4月28日 星期日

為何年輕的基督徒流失 (上)

最近看了一篇報導,有幾個機構做了年輕基督徒流失的比例,以美國為例,受洗後十年內還持續上教會(一週至少去兩次或是更多)的比例不到一半,三十五歲以下的基督徒這個比例大約只有四分之一;到了大城市中這個比例甚至低到十分之一以下;
 
其中年輕的基督徒從教會中流失的最大一個關鍵時刻,就是青少年由高中進入大學那一刻;在美國年輕人讀大學這個階段,絕大多數人要離開家住宿舍或是自己住外面,那是因為美國實在是太大了;上大學對於許多年輕人生命當中的第一個大變局,許多在高中時還肯隨著父母上教會的年輕人,因為父母不在身邊,因為可以開始自由的運用時間,也可能是因為朋友的影響,他們中間許多人就停止固定的去教會了;
 
對於這樣的情況,我們可以東講西講可以找出許多理由,但是真正的理由還是:我們孩子的信仰其實並沒有被好好的建立起來;研究報告顯示,青少年心目中的耶穌基督的認識普遍的是屬於一種「道德、治療、自然神論」的範疇;意思就是:神要我們有好道德,神可以幫我們治癒(心靈),但是他們的神觀是自然神觀;
 
最後的那句話「自然神觀」的意思是由伏爾泰以及盧梭等哲學家所創立的神觀,大意是說神在歷史上出現過,但是如今神已經不再作工或是顯神蹟了,世界是按照設定好的軌道上運行下去,不再需要神的干預了,而只是存在我們的思想和意念中;到如今基督教是以留存下來教訓、以理念的方式來對我們進行道德的提升,心理的治癒;
 
我們能夠怪我們的孩子有這種神觀嗎?不能!他們在學校裡要學習和接受進化論,要學自然科學;而在他們短短的一生當中,也可能因為被父母照顧得太好,就沒有經歷神的機會;如果我們作父母的不能和孩子溝通信仰上的事,他們就只能從教會裡得到教導了,可是往往教會裡對青少年的教導就是一些不痛不癢的,告訴他們信了耶穌就必得救等簡單的故事;
 
按照許多教會的教導,既然受過了洗禮,那也就得了聖靈作為將來天上有產業的憑證、確據,是已經稱義而得救了;既然如此,那麼在環境變化的情況下一時不去教會,主應該可以原諒我們的,將來在天堂裡也就是前後排位的不同的分別而已,「應該」是不會影響得救的;於是先是一兩次不去教會,再後來的課業一忙,就成了「長期」的不去教會聚會了;
 
如果這是你的孩子,你應該為此感到難過嗎?我們是應該為我們的孩子擔心,也要為他們禱告,但是我們還是無需驚慌;神是一個偉大的作家與藝術家,他在製作每一個基督肢體的時候,是要看火侯的拿捏與契機,以期製作出夠水準又很棒的作品,並不是一昧的趕時間的;
 
一個信耶穌又受過洗的孩子,就算是暫時的離開了教會、流浪在世界當中,在他們心裡面還是有著神也有著主的,只不過對於神的認識還是在雲裡霧裡,並不清楚;也未曾真正的經歷神,認識神,這些孩子在經歷過一段遠離神的日子以後,還是很有可能再被神得著的;只不過不是在他們自己以為的時間裡,也不是在我們這些父母想要的時間裡,只是在乎神的時間而已;
 
但是也真的有些孩子,離開神之後就長長久久的離開了;孩子長大了,自己就可以拿主見了,也不見得會再聽父母的話了;他們有可能自己決定走自己選擇的路;而萬一走上岔路就是幾十年的時間,或是根本就不回來也是可能的;所以可能他們在青少年這個階段在教會所受的教導,是在很長的時間裡面能夠影響他們對神看法的最重要教導;
 
當然最好的路是在青少年的階段,讓他們看到敬虔的榜樣(就是我們自己),就讓我們的孩子也成為敬虔而又被聖靈充滿的基督徒;這當然是可能的,例如像是聖經中所記載的但以理,以及他的幾個朋友,沙得拉、米煞、亞伯尼歌,這些人都是在少年時就被擄到外邦人的國度中,雖然必需與敬拜假神的外邦人為伍,但是他們都一生堅守他們的信仰;
 
年輕的基督徒從教會中流失,是一件值得我們關注的事情,我們子女的靈命,就是我們這些作家長的責任;讓他們在離開家之前,就能夠對神有一個正確的認識,養成一個在神面前敬虔的態度;願上帝保守我們和我們的家庭、子女,感謝讚美我們的主。


自己度量自己(林後10:12)

哥林多後書十章:「11 這等人當想,我們不在那裡的時候信上的言語如何,見面的時候,行事也必如何。 12 因為我們不敢將自己和那自薦的人同列相比。他們用自己度量自己,用自己比較自己,乃是不通達的。 13 我們不願意分外誇口,只要照神所量給我們的界限夠到你們那裡。」
保羅說:「用自己比較自己,乃是不通達的。」,這句話是非常簡單,但卻又充滿智慧的,用自己度量自己有沒有用啊?我們為什麼要度量一個人或是一件物品呢?因為要拿來用、要衡量可不可以裝得下去,撐起來夠高,或是會不會太重或是太輕,是不是呢?
我們上飛機行李要去過磅,為什麼?因為要看看這行李會不會太重,機場地勤人員搬得動搬不動,所以衡量的標準一定是按照地勤人員的負荷程度,所統一定立的標準;我們不能說100這個數字很好看又很好記,就定在100公斤吧,這樣地勤人員都要開叉車才能搬行李了;
公司錄用一個人,所考慮的標準不外是這個人有沒有能力來完成所要作的工作,以及能不能夠融入這個公司的文化;你說:我很厲害,我是台大的博士,你們公司招一個人,只不過是要五專的學歷,我又不挑剔薪水,你為什麼不用我?那個公司回答說:先生,我們要招的是工科,工專學歷就夠了,你是台大博士,可是你是文學博士,又沒有做過車床加工,我們不敢用你。
所以一個人、用自己度量自己是沒有用的,我們上面的例子還是用了學校的文憑來度量,但是因為和所要的不符合,也都是沒有用的,更何況是用自己所想像的一些標準來度量自己呢!那些假教師、假使徒想要批評保羅,想要証明自己比保羅更厲害,就想用一些自選的標準來比教;
例如收集了有多少薦信、這根本就不能算是一個好的標準,這只能明說他跑過的地方多,又常常向別人要薦信而已;保羅所到過的教會不多嗎?但是他從來也不會向別人要薦信,也沒有一個教會自大到主動為保羅開薦信吧;這就好比今天有些人到處主動找名人合照,然後將照片發在自己的自媒體上,各種名人都有;
這只能說明他自己還不夠出名、自信心不夠,要藉著名人來沾光,你從來不會看見馬雲和郭台銘的微信、將那種剛見面就求合照的那種照片給發出來罷,他們可能連人家所發過來的照片是看也不看,留也不留,直接跳過去;但是對方可能將這種合照當作至寶,放大掛在辦公室裡也不一定;這是他們衡量自己的方式:和多少,或是多有名的人合過影;
世上很多衡量自己的方式都是很可笑的,但是那些抓著那些衡量標準的人並不覺得如此,甚至還把它們當成生活中頭等大事;例如像是住在怎樣的房子裡,開怎樣的車,揹怎樣的包,這些是世俗又膚淺的標準;此外有些別的標準不似那般膚淺,但也同樣不足以真正的衡量人,例如有什麼學歷,獲過什麼獎,經手過多少營業額,有多少人點讚過,這些都是世上常用來衡量人的標準,這裡面也有被教會採用的;
世上的標準是層出不窮,這些都是人自己發展出來的度量人的辦法,有些辦法的確在這個世上是有其功能和作用的,但是對於我們來講,特別是當我們的人生所剩下的日子是越來越少時,真正重要的問題是,人所發展的標準到了天上是否還適用?或是神是用什麼標準來看待人?
這個標準是蘊藏在神所啟示的聖經裡,我們可以從中看到神直接了當的告訴人,例如說:我愛憐恤、不愛祭祀;我們也得以從神自己所作的工作,神揀選使用人的偏好可以看得出來;保羅就以神給他所劃的地界來告訴哥林多的信徒們:神是在許多的事上是與他同工的;
我們要注意,幅員地界和人數的多少不能拿來作唯一的標準,因為唯一的標準是神自己,以及神已經啟示的話語;根據聖經的標準、我們如果看人數要看有結出生命果子的人數,而不是單純的人數;今天如果單論人數,回教的人數也已經相當的可觀了,我們若是看有生命果子的人數,那也足以表現神的心意的顯明;
感謝主的揀選與使用,在曠野遇見神的事工也能夠逐漸有小小的影響力;甚至如同幾位弟兄姐妹所說的,因此處的事工他們重燃了對主的愛火,一切的榮耀頌讚歸於主,也願上帝賜福給你們。
 

2019年4月27日 星期六

以弗所書講經 (53)

以弗所書講經 (53)
讚美 感謝 順服
當用詩章、頌詞、靈歌彼此對說,口唱心和地讚美主。 凡事要奉我們主耶穌基督的名常常感謝父神。 又當存敬畏基督的心,彼此順服
低流量,無影像版本在這裡: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwEErhW6jjU
。。。想你的朋友也能看到這篇嗎,請按讚或分享
讀全文請按連結;按讚 Page可定期收到好文

 

2019年4月26日 星期五

言出必行的代價(林後10:10)

哥林多後書十章:「8 主賜給我們權柄,是要造就你們,並不是要敗壞你們,我就是為這權柄稍微誇口,也不至於慚愧。 9 我說這話,免得你們以為我寫信是要威嚇你們。 10 因為有人說:「他的信又沉重又厲害,及至見面,卻是氣貌不揚、言語粗俗的。」 11 這等人當想,我們不在那裡的時候信上的言語如何,見面的時候,行事也必如何。」
保羅在這裡說他就這個權柄稍微的誇口,他是不是真的誇口了呢?他這樣作是有什麼目的呢?要知道在保羅的心目中,誇口的是件該感到慚愧的事情;這和許多人誇口是為了尋找自己的榮耀、是完全相反的;保羅知道平常的誇口是值得羞愧的,但是他在這裡誇口神所賜給他的權柄卻是不需要慚愧;
為什麼?他把神賜給他權柄的這件事,是為了要造就人而不是為了要敗壞人,一定要在這裡解釋清楚,否則有些人會以為保羅是在用權柄威嚇他們,這就是第9節以及以後的數節經文,保羅一定要講清楚的事情;從這裡我們可以看得出來保羅其實是很不想提這件事情,只是不得不講;
因為有人已經在哥林多教會這邊以己之心來度人,也就是猜測自己是如何、那麼別人一定也是如何;這些人看保羅所寫的書信是如此的有權威,但是直至見到面,卻發現他長的卻是其貌不揚的、言語又不講究;用我們中國人的說法就是:保羅在講話的時候用的是白話文、而非之乎者也的文言文,這看起來是誠實的一段話,實在是在譏笑保羅;
除了笑保羅人言不配文之外,這些人還質疑保羅事否能夠言出必行,言行合一?言出必行或是言行一致重不重要啊?那當然很重要,是一項美德;但是如果我們言出必行的代價,是要用別人的生命來付這個代價的話,那麼我們會不會堅持自己的言出必行呢?
我想讀過中國歷史的人都知道,中國歷朝歷代的皇帝講究君無戲言,也有一些小故事告訴我們有某些人就是喪命在這個君無戲言的上面;皇帝為了維護皇權的尊嚴,就連一句話出口都必需擲地有聲,為此甚至是不惜殺人;他們怕只要一句話改口了,以後帝王再講話就沒人信了;
保羅知道誇口是不好的,但是他依然要在這裡誇口;他也知道言出必行、言行一致是好的,可以幫助他建立使徒的權威,將幾個人送上他們的滅亡又算是什麼呢!但是他不能這樣作,為何呢?因為憐憫和寬容、也就是都是為了別人的益處;
小孩子出門不肯好好穿衣服、穿鞋子,又不肯放下手中的玩具,媽媽怎麼辦?她會說:"你再不出來、媽媽就自己先走了,留你一個人在家裡,一個人在家好可怕,你就要哭哭了!";可是那一個媽媽在講完這種話三分鐘以後、就真的一聲不響的就自己離開的了?不總是一而再、再而三的等待、不是嗎?
如果上帝真的言出必行、不帶有任何的憐憫,我們早就因犯了罪而滅絕了;感謝上帝因為他有極大的憐憫和寬容;既然神是如此的寬容,那我們作為神工人的,豈不是更要照著主人的心意而行?神的工人常常要不計較個人的榮辱和得失,不計較旁人怎麼樣看待我們,總是要用各種方法方式去造就人,勸勉人;
這是因為愛的緣故,所以基督教從來就不是一種修身養性,而是生命的拯救,感謝讚美主,願上帝賜福給我們。

 

2019年4月25日 星期四

why people are leaving church

The Top Reasons Young People Drop Out of Church
Even with 1 in 4 leaving over politics, college kids are more likely to return after a hiatus than leave for good.
Griffin Paul JacksonGriffin Paul Jackson
January 15, 2019 1:39 AM
The Top Reasons Young People Drop Out of Church
Image: Pearl / Lightstock

Slightly fewer young adults are dropping out of church after high school, but those who do have more serious reasons for leaving than a decade ago.
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In a 2017 LifeWay Research survey released today, 66 percent of Americans between 23 and 30 years old said they stopped attending church on a regular basis for at least a year after turning 18, compared to 70 percent in 2007.

Most young churchgoers skip out on Sundays at some point amid their transition to going to college, moving away from home, or starting their first jobs. LifeWay has found that historically about two-thirds of dropouts return to services once they get older.

But these days, young Christians are more likely to cite weightier political and spiritual concerns as pushing them away from the church, with 70 percent listing such beliefs as a reason for their departure in 2017 compared to about half (52%) 10 years before.

Moving for college remains the top reason young people stop attending church in both surveys, which are based on responses from more than 2,000 young Americans who attended a Protestant church regularly (twice a month or more) for at least a year during high school.

Other popular reasons to include: a perception that church members were hypocritical (32%), disconnect with church life (29%), and lack of student ministry opportunities (24%).

Political rifts between young Christians and their congregations are growing. A quarter (25%) of recent dropouts said disagreements over their church’s stance on political and social issues contributed to their decision to stop attending, compared to 15 percent in 2007.

The follow-up survey came in the wake of the 2016 elections, with partisan divides over President Donald Trump’s victory adding to Generation Z’s growing concerns around race, social justice, and LGBT rights.

“In the past, it was possible for difficult issues like this to be brushed aside or go unaddressed entirely,” Ben Trueblood, director of student ministry for LifeWay Christian Resources, told CT last year, responding to trends among Gen Z. “But that approach cripples the purpose of student ministry. Now, student ministry leaders are forced to teach what the Bible says on these issues, as well as equip teenagers to respond biblically.”

In a time when many churches are “predictable clusters of the politically like-minded,” as James K. A. Smith has said, it’s harder for those who feel like ideological outliers to stick around. As CT reported last year, church attendance dipped among born-again and evangelical Christians across age groups after Trump’s election, particularly among Hillary Clinton supporters, who may have not felt welcome in certain church contexts.

Young people—some temporarily and some permanently—are moving outside churches to find a cohort that shares their political and spiritual beliefs. After high school, many find that community on campus.

A quarter of 18- to 22-year-olds in 2007 and a third in 2017 said they stopped attending church regularly simply because they “moved to college.” (Among young adults who had enrolled in college, that number is up to nearly half—47 percent.)

Still, only 14 percent said their school obligations actually kept them away from church, compared to 24 percent that said their work responsibilities prevented them from going.

Other studies have noted a clear correlation between college attendance and decreased religiosity but find the decline in faith isn’t the fault of professors or classes themselves. Rather, it may be due to the “college experience” more broadly or the transition from one’s family home to a new independence. There is also plain teenage amnesia.

“It's not that most rejected the church,” wrote Ed Stetzer, former executive director of LifeWay Research and the current head of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. “For the most part, they simply lose track of the church and stop seeing it as important to their life.”

Of those who dropped out of church for at least a year during the college years (between ages 18 and 22), more of them—31 percent—now attend regularly than those who never returned—29 percent.

LifeWay reports that church attendance peaks at age 15, with more than three-quarters regularly attending then. But that percentage took a nosedive at 18, and by 19, only 4 in 10 former regular-attenders were still in the habit. By 21, one-third attended church services regularly—a percentage that remained constant through age 30.

The dynamics of churches themselves are increasingly a turnoff for dropouts. In 2007, half (55%) pointed to church- and pastor-related reasons as important in their decision to leave—mostly their impressions of their place in the congregation. But in 2017, 73 percent indicated such grievances were a factor in stepping away.

Just as earlier research by Fuller Youth Institute concluded that young people don’t want hip pastors, matters of worship and preaching were not dominant factors inspiring young people to leave. LifeWay found that only 13 percent said they left because the worship style was “unappealing,” and 1 in 10 said they left because “the sermons were not relevant to my life.”

The percentage of those who said they wanted to keep attending church but dropped out because they were “too busy” actually decreased in the decade between surveys (22% in 2007 versus 20% in 2017).

It’s worth noting that most who withdraw from regular attendance are not abandoning the faith outright. Still, a bigger portion of the dropouts cite major shifts in their views of Christianity. While only 10 percent said they left because they stopped believing in God, that’s double as many as ’07.

Of all young adults who used to attend Protestant churches but left temporarily or for good, just 7 percent say they are currently atheists (3%) or agnostic (4%). In contrast, most still consider themselves Protestant (49%) or non-denominational (21%), while 10 percent now identify as Roman Catholic.

There’s more positive news for orthodox Christianity. While most of those who left the church did so for reasons related to personal life changes (like going to college) or frustrations with hypocrisy and politics in church, those who continued regularly attending did so primarily because, they said, “church was a vital part of my relationship with God” (56%) and “I wanted the church to help guide my decisions in everyday life” (54%).

Notably, young Protestants who kept up their church attendance claimed to experience fewer of the social frustrations than those who dropped out. While those who stayed did observe judgmentalism, cliquishness, and a lack of connection in some ministries, they perceived these problems at substantially lower rates than the students who ended up leaving.

And for young Christians who bailed on church but have since returned, the most common reasons were the encouragement of family (37%), the personal desire to go back to church (32%), and the feeling that God was calling them back (28%).
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 UPDATED: Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?

J. Warner January 12, 2019 Current Events, Writings, Youth 147,736 Views
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58(Updated on January 12th, 2019)

Much has been written about both the Biblical illiteracy of teenage believers and the flight of young people from the Church. Many have observed this trend, and I too have witnessed it anecdotally as a youth pastor (and shamefully, I contributed to the trend for some time before I changed course). Some writers and Christian observers deny the flight of young people altogether, but the growing statistics should alarm us enough as Church leaders to do something about the dilemma. My hope in this post is to simply consolidate some of the research (many of the summaries are directly quoted) so you can decide for yourself. I’m going to organize the recent findings in a way that illuminates the problem:

Research Related to Spiritual Life of Teenagers:

Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers
Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, Oxford University Press, 2005

Book Findings: The majority of teenagers are incredibly inarticulate about their faith, religious beliefs and practices, and its place in their lives. The de facto dominant religion among contemporary U.S. teenagers is what they call ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’: A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth; God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions; the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself; God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem; and good people go to heaven when they die.

Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church
Kenda Creasy Dean, Oxford University Press, 2010

Book Findings: Dean affirms what Soul Searching called ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’ “If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation.”

The Teen Guide to Global Action: How to Connect with Others (Near & Far) to Create Social Change
Barbara A. Lewis, Free Spirit Publishing, 2007

Book Findings: More teens are embracing a nebulous belief in God. Yet there’s been an “explosion” in youth service since 1995 that Lewis attributes to more schools emphasizing community service.

The State of Theology
Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research (2015)

Study Findings: In this survey of theological beliefs, researchers asked self-professing Christians to respond to a series of statements related to classic, historic Christian doctrine. In every answer offered related to these theological beliefs, young people between the ages of 18 and 34 consistently held heretical views at a higher percentage than older respondents. Young people who identify themselves as Christians, are far more likely to hold views that aren’t Christian.

Research Related to the Attitude of College Professors:

Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty
Stanley Rothman, S. Robert Lichter, Neil Nevitte (2005)

Study Findings: “Nearly three-quarters” (72%) of faculty members describe themselves as politically liberal, according to 1999 data from the North American Academic Study Survey (NAASS), up from 39 percent in a 1984 survey by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

How Religious are America’s College and University Professors?
Neil Gross, Solon Simmons (2006)

Study Findings: About 25% of college professors are professing atheists or agnostics (5-7% of the general population is atheistic or agnostic). Only 6% of college professors said the Bible is “the actual word of God”. 51% described it as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts.” 75% believe religion does not belong in public schools.

The Religious Beliefs and Behavior of College Faculty
The Institute for Jewish & Community Research Review – Staff (2007)

Study Findings: The study revealed several findings related to the political and religious views of professors, including the following key discoveries:

“Most Faculty Believe in God, but Atheism Is Significantly More Prevalent among Faculty Than the General Public
The proportion of faculty who self-identified as atheist is over five times the proportion of people who self-identified as atheist in the general public.

Faculty Are Much Less Religious Than the General Public
The American public is much more likely to say that religion is very important in their everyday lives and to attend religious services more frequently than faculty.

Faculty Feel Warmly about Most Religious Groups, but Feel Coldly about Evangelicals and Mormons
Faculty have positive feelings toward Jews, Buddhists, Catholics, and Atheists.

Faculty Feel Most Unfavorably about Evangelical Christians
This is the only religious group about which a majority of non-Evangelical faculty have negative feelings.

Faculty Are Almost Unanimous in Their Belief That Evangelical Christians (Fundamentalists) Should Keep Their Religious Beliefs Out of American Politics
Faculty who are secular/liberal are more likely to favor separation of religion and government, and those who are religious and conservative are more likely to advocate a closer connection between religion and government.

Although Faculty Generally Oppose Religion in the Public Sphere, Many Endorse the Idea That Muslims Should Express Their Religious Beliefs in American Politics
Faculty are far less likely to endorse Evangelical Christians expressing their beliefs in American politics.”

Compromising Scholarship; Religious and Political Bias in American Higher Education
George Yancey (2011)

Book Findings: “Religiously conservative academics are at a distinct disadvantage in our institutions of learning, threatening the free exchange of ideas to which our institutions aspire and leaving many scientific inquiries unexplored.”

Research Related to the Decreasing Christian Population in General

American Religious Identification Survey
Barry A. Kosmin, Egon Mayer, and Ariela Keysar (2001)

Study Findings: The number of people who identify themselves as Christian has dropped from 85% in 1990 to 76% in 2008. About 52% of American adults identify themselves as Protestant or other non-Catholic Christian denominations, according to the. That’s down from 60% in 1990.

America’s Changing Religious Landscape
Pew Research Center (2015)

Study Findings: “The percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%.”

Gallop Religious Identification Poll
Gallop Daily Tracking, Frank Newport (2015)

Study Findings: While the number of Americans identifying as Christians is still high (75%), it has dropped 5% since 2008

Five Key Findings on Religion in the U.S.
Gallop National Poll (2016)

Study Findings: This national poll about the religious affiliation of Americans revealed the following (among other findings):

1. America remains a largely Christian nation, although less so than in the past. 74% of Americans identify as some form a Christian, only 5% identify as affiliated with a non-Christian religion. when last polled in 2008, 80% of Americans identified themselves as Christian.
2. The trend away from formal religion continues. Approximately 21% of Americans say they are either atheist, agnostic, or have no religious affiliation. This is up 6% since 2008.
3. Americans continue to say that religion is losing its influence in American society. 72% of Americans say that religion is losing its influence on American life.

The Persistent and Exceptional Intensity of American Religion: A Response to Recent Research
Sociological Science Study (2017)

Study Findings: This study, examining General Social Surveys from 1989 to 2016, found the following:

1. The number of people who report they are strongly affiliated with a religion is in the minority but does not appear to have changed much from 1990 to 2015.
2. Less than 40% of Americans say they have strong religious affiliations. Those who say they are not strongly affiliated are leaving the church, down from approximately 55% in 1990 to approximately 42% in 2015. Those who claim no affiliation with religion have grown from 8% of the population to approximately 22% during the same time.
3. Only approximately 8% of the populations attends church multiple times in a week. The number of people who said they attended “sometimes” has dropped from approximately 79% to 69% from 1990 to 2015. Those who never attend church has risen from 14% to nearly 25% in the same time frame.
4. Approximately 33% of the [population described the Bible as the “Literal Word of God”. The number of people who describe the Bible as “Inspired, But Not Literal, has dropped from approximately 53% to 47% from 1990 to 2015. The number of people who describe the Bible as a “Book of Fables” has risen from approximately 15% to 21% during that time.
5. The number of people who identify as “Evangelical” has remained somewhat steady during this time frame, at approximately 29%. The number of people who identify as having a “Non-Evangelical” affiliation is down from approximately 66% to 51%. The number of people who say they have no religious affiliation is up from approximately 8% to 23% during this same time frame.

Research Related to the Flight of Young People from the Church

Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith
Tom Bisset, Discovery House Publishers (1997)

Book Findings: In this very early study, Tom Bisset interviewed people and asked them when, why, and how they abandoned their faith. He identified four prominent reasons:

1. They left because they had troubling, unanswered questions about the faith.
2. They left because their faith was not “working” for them.
3. They left because they allowed other things to take priority.
4. They left because they never personally owned their faith.

Southern Baptist Convention Data
Pinkney, T.C., Remarks to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, Nashville, Tennessee (2001)

Study Findings: Data from the Southern Baptist Convention indicates that they are currently losing 70-88% of their youth after their freshman year in college. 70% of teenagers involved in church youth groups stop attending church within two years of their high school graduation.

“The Religiosity Cycle”
Gallop Poll Study (2002)

Study Findings: The results indicate that teens are more religious during their early teen years, and that religiosity begins to decline as teens near adulthood. When asked, “How important are your religious beliefs?”, 63% of 13- to 15-year-olds answered “very important,” compared to 52% of 16- to 17-year-olds. Church attendance also drops during the teen and young adult years and begins to climb as adults age. Fifty-four percent of teens aged 13 to 15 reported having attended church in the past seven days, as did 51% of 16- to 17-year-old teens. The figure drops to 32% among 18- to 29- year-olds but rises again to 44% among 50- to 64-year-olds and 60% among those aged 75 and older. 69% percent of 13- to 15-year-olds report being members of a church or synagogue, compared to 59% of 16- to 17-year-olds, 60% of 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 80% of those aged 75 and older.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Family Life Council
Southern Baptist Council on Family Life report to Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (2002)

Study Findings:  88% of the children in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18

Revolution
George Barna, Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, IL (2005)

Book Findings: If current trends in the belief systems and practices of the younger generation continue, in ten years, church attendance will be half the size it is today.

Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers
Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, Oxford University Press (2005)

Book Findings: Students leave faith behind primarily because of intellectual doubt and skepticism (page 89). “Why did they fall away from the faith in which they were raised?” This was an open-ended question there were no multiple-choice answers. 32% said they left faith behind because of intellectual skepticism or doubt. (“It didn’t make any sense anymore.” “Some stuff is too far-fetched for me to believe.” “I think scientifically and there is no real proof.” “Too many questions that can’t be answered.”)

“Most Twentysomethings Put Christianity on the Shelf…”
Barna Study (2006)

Study Findings: A majority of twenty-somethings – 61% of today’s young adults – had been churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged.

The Last Christian Generation
Josh McDowell,  David H. Bellis, Green Key Books (2006)

Book Findings: 63% of teenaged Christians don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of the one true God. 51% don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead. 68% don’t believe that the Holy Spirit is a real entity. Only 33% of churched youth have said that the church will play a part in their lives when they leave home.

Assemblies of God Study
Dayton A. Kingsriter (2007)

Study Findings: At least half and possibly over two-thirds of Christian young people will step away from the Christian faith while attending a non-Christian college or university. Between 50% and 66.7% of Assemblies of God young 
people who attend a non-Christian public or private university will have left the faith 
four years after entering college.

LifeWay Research Study
LifeWay Research and Ministry Development (2007)

Study Findings: 70% will leave the faith in college. Only 35% eventually return. 7 in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 – both evangelical and mainline – who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23. 34% of those said they had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30. That means about one in four Protestant young people have left the church. “The most frequent reason for leaving church is, in fact, a self-imposed change, ‘I simply wanted a break from church’ (27%).” “The path toward college and the workforce are also strong reasons for young people to leave church: ‘I moved to college and stopped attending church’ (25%) and ‘work responsibilities prevented me from attending’ (23%).”

Unchristian
Barna Research Group director David Kinnaman, Baker Books; (2007)

Book Findings: Christians in their 20s are “significantly less likely to believe a person’s faith in God is meant to be developed by involvement in a local church. This life stage of spiritual disengagement is not going to fade away.”

Rethink: Is Student Ministry Working?
Steve Wright, InQuest Ministries, Inc. (2007)

Book Findings: 63% don’t believe Jesus is the Son of the one true God. 58% believe all faiths teach equally valid truths. 51% don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead. 65% don’t believe Satan is a real entity. 68% don’t believe the Holy Spirit is a real entity

Religious and Political Self-Identification, 1990-2008
Barry A. Kosmin & Juhem Navarro-Rivera (2008)

Study Findings: This research, based on the American Religious Identification Survey 2008, addresses the religious beliefs and behaviors of those born from the early to mid-1960s to the late 1970s to early 1980s:

1. Generation X has weakened its ties to Christianity (85% in 1990 v. 75% in 2008)
2. Generation X has secularized over time. In 1990 11% were Nones compared to16% in 2008; 13% of Generation X did not identify with a religion (including Don’t Know and refusals) in 1990, compared to 21% in 2008
3. Generation X Christian groups became more female dominated over time (with the exception of the Protestant Sects) while the Nones and Other Religions became more male dominated.

Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults
Christian Smith, Patricia Snell (2009)

Book Findings: Among American adults, emerging adults are significantly less religious.
Generally speaking, the importance and practice of religion declines among young adults. No more than 15% of the total emerging adult population, embrace a strong religious faith. 30% tend to customize their faith to fit the rest of their lives. They often have strong religious upbringing but tend to be more discriminating about what they will adopt. A smaller group, about 15%, believe in some higher power but are not sure what that is or means. About 25% of the emerging adult population may claim to be religious or even appreciate religion—but it simply does not matter. 5% of all emerging adults have had little to no exposure to religious people, ideas, or organizations. 10% of emerging adults are  skeptical of religion and reject the idea of personal faith. They tend to hold critical, derogatory, and antagonistic attitudes towards religion.

The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church
Jossey-Bass, San Francisco (2009)

Book Findings: 90% of youth active in high school church programs drop out of church by the time they are sophomores on college.

Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it
Ken Ham, Britt Beemer, with Todd Hillard, New Leaf Publishing Group/Master Books (2009)

Book Findings: Church youth already are “lost” in their hearts and minds in elementary, middle and high school – not in college as many assume.

After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion
Robert Wuthnow, Princeton University Press (2010)

Book Findings: “Unless religious leaders take younger adults more seriously, the future of American religion is in doubt.” The proportion of young adults identifying with mainline churches, is “about half the size it was a generation ago. Evangelical Protestants have barely held their own.”

“Spirituality in Higher Education”: The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA
Alexander W. Astin, Helen S. Astin, and Jennifer A. Lindholm (2010)

Study Findings: 52% of college students reported frequent church attendance the year before they entered college but only 29% continued frequent church attendance by their junior year.

College Transition Project
The Fuller Youth Institute (2010)

Study Findings: Current data seems “to suggest that about 40-50% of students in youth groups struggle in their faith after graduation.”

Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith… and How to Bring Them Back
Drew Dyck, Moody Publishers (2010)

Book Findings: The departure of young people from the Church is acknowledged and several categories of “leavers” are identified, including “Post Modern Leavers”, “Recoilers”, “Modern Leavers”, “Neo Pagans”, “Rebels” and “Drifters.

You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith
David Kinnaman, Baker Books (2011)

Book Findings: Nearly three out of every five young Christians disconnect from their churches after the age of 15.

Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood
Christian Smith with Kari Christoffersen, Hilary Davidson and Patricia Snell Herzog, Oxford University Press (2011)

Book Findings: Young adults are unable to think coherently about moral beliefs and problems. Young adults have an excessive focus on consumption and materialism as the good life. The prevalent lifestyle of young adults includes routine intoxication and drug usage. The sexual encounters of young adults are not practiced in an environment of physical, mental, or emotional health. Young adults appear to have an inability to care about, invest in, and hope for the larger world through civic and political participation.

Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity
Larry Taunton, Fixed Point Foundation (2013)

Study Findings: Taunton interviewed members of atheist college groups (the Secular Student Alliance and Freethought Societies). “These college groups are the atheist equivalents to Campus Crusade: They meet regularly for fellowship, encourage one another in their (un)belief, and even proselytize. They are people who are not merely irreligious; they are actively, determinedly irreligious.” Taunton eventually recognized an emerging pattern in those he interviewed, and he identified several characteristics of young “determinedly irreligious” college students:

1. They had attended church at one time
2. The mission and message of their churches was vague
3. They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions
4. They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously
5. Ages 14-17 were decisive
6. The decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one
7. The internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism

Churchless: Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How to Connect With Them
George Barna and David Kinnaman, Tyndale Momentum (2014)

Book Findings: Barna Group conducted tens of thousands of interviews with unchurched people and discovered the following:

1. The number of churchless Americans has jumped by nearly one-third in just 20 years
2. If unchurched Americans were their own nation, they’d be the eighth largest on Earth
3. The younger you are, the more likely you are to never have been to church
4. The younger the generation, the more post-Christian it is

America’s Changing Religious Landscape
Pew Research Center (2015)

Study Findings: “While many U.S. religious groups are aging, the unaffiliated are comparatively young – and getting younger, on average, over time… One of the most important factors in the declining share of Christians and the growth of the “nones” is generational replacement. As the Millennial generation enters adulthood, its members display much lower levels of religious affiliation, including less connection with Christian churches, than older generations. Fully 36% of young Millennials (those between the ages of 18 and 24) are religiously unaffiliated, as are 34% of older Millennials (ages 25-33)… As a rising cohort of highly unaffiliated Millennials reaches adulthood, the median age of unaffiliated adults has dropped to 36, down from 38 in 2007 and far lower than the general (adult) population’s median age of 46.4 By contrast, the median age of mainline Protestant adults in the new survey is 52 (up from 50 in 2007), and the median age of Catholic adults is 49 (up from 45 seven years earlier).”

Choosing a New Church or House of Worship
Pew Research Center (2015)

Study Findings: In this seemingly unrelated study, researchers surveyed religious “nones” (78%) who said they were raised as a member of a particular religion before shedding their religious identity in adulthood, and asked them to explain, in their own words, why they no longer identified with a religious group. They discovered the following themes:

About 50% said a “lack of belief led them to move away from religion. This includes many respondents who mention ‘science’ as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings, including one who said ‘I’m a scientist now, and I don’t believe in miracles.’ Others reference ‘common sense,’ ‘logic’ or a ‘lack of evidence’ – or simply say they do not believe in God.”

About 20% said they were in “opposition to organized religion in general. This share includes some who do not like the hierarchical nature of religious groups, several people who think religion is too much like a business and others who mention clergy sexual abuse scandals as reasons for their stance.”

About 18% said they were “religiously unsure. This include(d) people who (said) they (were) religious in some way despite being unaffiliated (e.g., ‘I believe in God, but in my own way’), others who describe(d) themselves as ‘seeking enlightenment’ or ‘open-minded,’ and several who (said) they are ‘spiritual’ if not religious.”

About 10% said they “may hold certain religious beliefs, but they (were) not currently taking part in religious practices. And most of them simply (said) they (didn’t) go to church or engage in other religious rituals, while others (said) they (were) too busy for religion.”

Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back
Betsy Cooper, Ph.D., Daniel Cox, Ph.D., Rachel Lienesch, Robert P. Jones, Ph.D., Public Religious Research Institute (2016)

Study Findings: “Today, nearly four in ten (39%) young adults (ages 18-29) are religiously unaffiliated—three times the unaffiliated rate (13%) among seniors (ages 65 and older). While previous generations were also more likely to be religiously unaffiliated in their twenties, young adults today are nearly four times as likely as young adults a generation ago to identify as religiously unaffiliated. In 1986, for example, only 10% of young adults claimed no religious affiliation. Among young adults, the religiously unaffiliated dwarf the percentages of other religious identifications: Catholic (15%), white evangelical Protestant (9%), white mainline Protestant (8%), black Protestant (7%), other non-white Protestants (11%), and affiliation with a non-Christian religion (7%).”

“In the 1970s, only about one-third (34%) of Americans who were raised in religiously unaffiliated households were still unaffiliated as adults. By the 1990s, slightly more than half (53%) of Americans who were unaffiliated in childhood retained their religious identity in adulthood. Today, about two-thirds (66%) of Americans who report being raised outside a formal religious tradition remain unaffiliated as adults.”

More importantly, the study found that most Americans who leave their childhood religion do so before reaching adulthood. 79% percent of young adults age 18 to 29 who become religiously unaffiliated report making this decision during their adolescent and teen years. In years prior, those who abandon religious belief reported doing so much later. Only 38% of people over the age of 65, for example, reported leaving their religion during their childhood years.

CARA National Study
Mark M. Gray, Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (2016)

Study Findings: (While CARA only surveys young Catholic believers, their results parallel the findings of Christian surveys as reported in this article). “The first CARA study, commissioned by Saint Mary’s Press, involved a survey with a random, national sample of young people, ages 15 to 25, who had been raised Catholic but no longer self-identified as such. The second CARA study, made possible through funding from the John Templeton Foundation, involved a survey of a random sample of self-identified Catholics, ages 18 and older, and focused on matters of religion and science.” Most young people said they left the Church by the age of 13: 63 percent said they left between the ages of 10 and 17. 23 percent say they left before the age of 10. Those who left cited the following reasons:

“Because I grew up realized it was a story like Santa or the Easter Bunny.”

“As I learn more about the world around me and understand things that I once did not, I find that the thought of an all-powerful being to be less and less believable.”

“Catholic beliefs aren’t based on fact. Everything is hearsay from back before anything could be documented, so nothing can be disproved, but it certainly shouldn’t be taken seriously.”

“I realized that religion is in complete contradiction with the rational and scientific world, and to continue to subscribe to a religion would be hypocritical.”

“Need proof of something.”

“It no longer fits into what I understand of the universe.”

NextGen Research
Larry Barnett, Next Generation Project (2016)

Study Findings: The NextGen research revealed the following key points:

1. Christianity’s decline in the U.S. spans every population segment – young and old, male and female, within every race, at all income and educational levels, and in every geographic region.
2. The presence or absence of doubt was found to be the single best predictor of Christian affiliation and spiritual health, compared to several hundred other factors.
3. Adults (and teens) who are younger, highly educated, knowledgeable, high-achieving, technologically engaged individuals who may have religiously diverse friends are the most likely to leave the faith.

CIRP Freshman Survey
The Cooperative Institutional Research Program (2017)

Study Findings: The CIRP Freshmen Survey of first-time students at 184 U.S. colleges and universities collects data on incoming college students’ background characteristics, high school experiences, attitudes, behaviors, and expectations for college. This survey revealed the following key points:

31 percent of incoming freshmen are religiously unaffiliated, a threefold increase since 1986, when just 10 percent identified this way. Because the survey is administered to students before they arrive on campus, the decline of religious identity noted in these cross-sectional studies cannot be attributed to college experience. Religious attendance is also falling precipitously among incoming students.

Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation
Barna Research Group (2018)

Study Findings: Barna’s most comprehensive research study investigating the perceptions, experiences and motivations of 13- to 18-year-olds in Generation Z, reports the following:

1. 59% of students in this age group Identify as Christian or Catholic (down from 75% for “Elders”). 21% say they are atheist or agnostic (up from 11% for “Elders’). 14% say they have no religious affiliation (up from 9% for “Elders”)
2. Students in this age group offer the following “barriers to faith”:

a. “I have a hard time believing that a good God would allow so much evil or suffering in the world” (29%)
b. “Christians are hypocrites” (23%)
c. “I believe science refutes too much of the Bible” (20%)
d. “I don’t believe in fairy tales (19%)
e. “There are too many injustices in the history of Christianity” (15%)
f. “I used to go to church but it’s not important to me anymore” (12%)
g. “I had a bad experience at church with a Christian” (6%)

3. Students in this age group struggle to reconcile science with the Bible. 24% side with science (up from 16% for “Boomers”). 31% believe science and the Bible refer to difference aspects of reality (up from 25% for “Boomers”). 28% believe science and the Bible can be used to support each other (down from 45% for “Boomers). 17% consider themselves on the side of the Bible (up from 13% for “Boomers”, but down from 19% for “Millennials”).
4. Students in this age group hold positive perceptions of the church in the following areas:

a. The church is a place to find answers to live a meaningful life (82%)
b. The church is relevant for my life (82%)
c. I feel like I can “be myself” at church (77%)
d. The people at church are tolerant of those with different beliefs (63%)

5. Students in this age group hold negative perceptions of the church in the following areas:

a. The church seems to reject much of what science tells us about the world (495)
b. The church is overprotective of teenagers (38%)
c. The people at church are hypocritical (36%)
d. The church is not a safe place to express doubts (27%)
e. The faith and teaching I encounter at church seem rather shallow (24%)
f. The church seems too much like an exclusive club (17%)

6. When students in this age group were asked why they didn’t think church was important, they gave the following reasons:

a. “The church is not relevant to me” (59%)
b. “I find God elsewhere” (48%)
c. “I can teach myself what I need to know” (28%)
d. “I think church is out of date” (20%)
e. “I don’t like the people who are in church” (15%)
f. “The rituals of church are empty” (12%)

ABC News / Washington Post Religious Affiliation Poll
Langer Research Associates (2018)

Study Findings: Based on 174,485 interviews from ABC News and ABC News/Washington Post polls conducted by telephone from 2003 to 2017, the study found that young people age 18-29 are increasingly non-religious, at a pace that far exceeds their older counterparts. From 2003 to 2017, the number of 18-29 year-olds who identify as non-religious has increased 16% (from 19% to 35% of the American population), while the percentage of Americans over the age of 50 who identify as non-religious has only increased 5% (from 8% to 13%).

When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?
Pew Research Center (2018)

Study Findings: This survey of more than 4,700 U.S. adults found that there is a broad discrepancy related to belief about God between 18-29 year-olds and older generations:

Those who believe in God as described in the Bible: 43% of 18-29 year-olds / 65% of Boomers

The survey also found that among people who believe in God or a higher power, young people are less likely to believe that God is active and engaged:

Those who believe God Loves all people, despite their faults: 67% of 18-29 year-olds / 83% of Boomers
Those who believe God has protected them: 68% of 18-29 year-olds / 83% of Boomers
Those who believe God knows everything: 63% of 18-29 year-olds / 76% of Boomers
Those who believe God has rewarded them: 61% of 18-29 year-olds / 68% of Boomers
Those who believe God has the power to direct / change everything: 52% of 18-29 year-olds / 67% of Boomers
Those who believe God determines what happens in their lives: 41% of 18-29 year-olds / 51% of Boomers
Those who believe God has punished them: 44% of 18-29 year-olds / 33% of Boomers
Those who believe God has talked to them: 21% of 18-29 year-olds / 31% of Boomers

Interestingly, this survey also found that young people, when they do think about God, are more likely to think of Him as a punishing Deity than their older counterparts.

Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics
Saint Mary’s Press Catholic Research Group and The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University (2018)

Study Findings: While this is a Catholic study, there exist many parallels with evangelical studies conducted over the past 10 years. This two-year national study on why young people are leaving the Catholic Church found that young ex-Catholics (the vast majority of which now identify themselves as “religious nones”) are leaving Catholicism for the following reasons:

1. “They perceive organized religion as having corrupted Jesus’ fundamental teachings.”
2.”They see the church’s dogmas and doctrines as nonsensical.”
3. “They believe they can live more moral lives without the baggage of religion.”
4. “Many perceive that religion was forced on them.”
5. “They report feeling freer and happier without what they experience as the burden of religion.”

“When asked at what age they no longer identified themselves as Catholic, 74 percent of the sample said between the ages of 10 and 20, with the median age being 13 years old.”

Millennials and Their Retention Since Confirmation: A Survey of LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) Congregations
Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (2018)

Study Findings: This comprehensive survey of 184 LCMA congregations found the following:

Congregations reported that only 1-in-3 of young people who were confirmed between 2004-2006 still worship at an LCMS church today:

30% of these young people left before they graduated high school
34% left after they graduated high school

The study also found that LCMS churches retained young believers at a much higher rate if:

1. They retain their youth pastor or youth leaders over a long period of time (“The data is clear that local retention when the pastor changes is substantially lower.”)
2. Their church leadership was generally younger (“Congregations with young adult leaders did better in all measures of retention. They were more likely to retain young people through graduation, they produced a greater number of confirmands that remain in the LCMS, they retained more in their own church body, and they even attract more young adults today.”)
3. Their youth group is larger (“Based on average weekly attendance, large congregations both confirm higher numbers of young people and retain more of their confirmands in the LCMS, regardless of whether they stay at their home congregation.”)

While this survey of books and studies is less than complete, it does provide us with powerful cumulative, circumstantial evidence supporting the claim that young people are leaving the Church in large numbers. More importantly, it appears that most of these young people are leaving prior to their experiences in college. But, while universities may not be the chief cause of the youth exodus, they certainly play a role in affirming and strengthening a secular worldview in the minds of young people who have already left the faith. Some studies have attempted to isolate potential responses that can be employed by parents and Church leaders:

Research Related to Potential Responses to the Flight of Young People from the Church

Youth Theological Initiative at Emory University in Georgia.
Elizabeth Corrie

Book Findings: There appears to be no shortage of teenagers who want to be inspired and make the world better. But the version of Christianity some are taught doesn’t inspire them “to change anything that’s broken in the world.” Teens want to be challenged; they want their tough questions taken on. “We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake,” Churches, not just parents, share some of the blame for teens’ religious apathy. “…The gospel of niceness can’t teach teens how to confront tragedy. It can’t bear the weight of deeper questions: Why are my parents getting a divorce? Why did my best friend commit suicide? Why, in this economy, can’t I get the good job I was promised if I was a good kid?”

Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults
Christian Smith, Patricia Snell, Oxford University Press (2009)

Book Findings: Parents are the most crucial and powerful socializers in the lives of their adolescents. The adolescent years are not the time to disengage as a parent. Growing adolescent independence often necessitates negotiation. If adolescents experience parents who are religiously withdrawn and functionally absent, then the faith of an emerging adult likely will also be vacuous, directionless, and empty. The more adults involved in the lives of adolescents, the better off they will be. This will mean that ministries to youth and families must find ways to incorporate loving, agenda-free adults into the lives of the ministry. Ministries to youth matter now more than ever. With the breakdown of the family and the systemic erosion of adult support, congregational youth ministers are more necessary than ever before.

Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media (2010)
Bradley R. E. Wright, Bethany House (2010)

Book Findings: Parents of students who did not leave the church emphasized religion twice as much as those who students who left the church. Students who stayed in church through college said that the first thing they do when they have doubts or questions was to talk to their parents and then read their Bibles.

You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith
David Kinnaman, Baker Books (2011)

Book Findings: Nearly 25% of the 18- to 29-year-olds interviewed said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” most of the time. 22% also said the church ignores real-world problems and 18% said that their church was too concerned about the negative impact of movies, music and video games. 33% of survey participants felt that “church is boring.” 20% of those who attended as a teenager said that God appeared to be missing from their experience of church. Many young adults do not like the way churches appear to be against science. Over 33% of young adults said that “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” and 25% of them said that “Christianity is anti-science.” 17% percent of young Christians say they’ve “made mistakes and feel judged in church because of them.” Two out of five young adult Catholics said that the church’s teachings on birth control and sex are “out of date.” 29% of young Christians said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and feel they have to choose between their friends and their faith. Over 33% of young adults said they feel like they can’t ask life’s most pressing questions in church and 23% said they had “significant intellectual doubts” about their faith.

Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations
Vern L. Bengtson. Norella M. Putney, Susan Harris, Oxford University Press (2013)

Book Findings: Several key findings were discovered in this 35-year study of families, focusing on the question of how religion is passed across generations:

1. Parents continue to be the single greatest influence on their children’s faith.
2. When a child sees and hears that faith actually makes a difference in Mom and Dad’s lives, they’re much more likely to follow suit.
3. Young adults are more likely to share their parents’ religious beliefs and participation if they feel that they have a close relationship with those parents.
4. Young Christians who leave the faith are far more likely to return when parents have been patient and supportive – and perhaps more tolerant and open than they had been before the prodigal’s departure.

5 Reasons Millennials Stay Connected to Church
Barna Study (2013)

Study Findings: This research included a series of national public opinion surveys conducted by Barna Group to find the most effective ways to keep millennials connected to the church. The listed the following strategies:

1. Develop meaningful relationships with millennials
2. Teach millennials to study and discern what’s happening in the culture
3. Help millennials discover their own mission in the world, rather than ask them to wait their turn
4. Teach millennials a more potent theology of vocation, or calling.
5. Help millennials develop a lasting faith by facilitating a deeper sense of intimacy with God

Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith
Jana Magruder and Ben Trueblood (2018)

Book / Study Findings: A study was conducted by Shelby Systems in preparation for the publication of this book. The study surveyed 2,000 Protestant and nondenominational churchgoers who attended services at least once a month and have adult children ages 18 to 30 who are still believers. They found the following “Predictors of Spiritual Health for Young Adults”:

Child regularly read the Bible while growing up.
Child regularly spent time in prayer while growing up.
Child regularly served in church while growing up.
Child listened primarily to Christian music.
Child participated in church mission trips/projects.

In addition, they found that parents who had successfully passed on their faith to their children typically were involved in the following activities:

Reading the Bible several times a week.
Taking part in a service project or church mission trip as a family.
Sharing their faith with unbelievers.
Encouraging teenagers to serve in church.
Asking forgiveness when they messed up as parents.
Encouraging their children’s unique talents and interests.
Taking annual family vacations.
Attending churches with teaching that emphasized what the Bible says.
Teaching their children to tithe.

There you have it; a short summary of some of the research being done on the exodus of young people from the Church and some of the reasons they give for their departure. Can a case be made that young Christians are leaving the Church in record numbers? Yes. Can a case be made that many of these young people are leaving because the culture around them has impacted them deeply and caused them to question the truth claims of Christianity? Yes, again. So, what are we going to do about it? What can be done? Visit our Youth section to get a few ideas.

For more information about strategies to help you teach Christian worldview to the next generation, please read So the Next Generation Will Know: Training Young Christians in a Challenging World. This book teaches parents, youth pastors and Christian educators practical, accessible strategies and principles they can employ to teach the youngest Christians the truth of Christianity. The book is accompanied by an eight-session So the Next Generation Will Know DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.

Subscribe to J. Warner’s Daily Email
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A new, 2018 Pew Research Center Report polled a growing group in America: “religious nones.” This group describes themselves as “nothing in particular” when asked if they identify with a specific religious group. The vast majority are ex-Christians, and most are under the age of 35. Pew asked a representative sample of these “religious nones” why they now reject any religious affiliation and provided respondents with six possible responses.

According to the Pew report, most “religious nones” left because they “question a lot of religious teaching” (51 percent agreed with this statement), or because they “don’t like the positions churches take on social/political issues” (46 percent agreed with this statement). To a lesser extent, “nones” agreed with the statements, “I don’t like religious organizations” (34 percent), “I don’t like religious leaders” (31 percent), or “Religion is irrelevant to me” (26 percent).

From this data, one might infer that Christians leave the faith because they no longer agree with the teaching of the Church or that they don’t like religious organizations or leaders.

But this is not why young Christians are leaving the church.

One glaring statistic was largely overlooked in the latest data collected by the Pew Research Center. When religious “nones” were asked to identify the most important reason for not affiliating with a religion, the largest response was that none of the six responses provided by Pew were actually very important. In this poll, Pew did not allow respondents to answer in their own words. So, even though respondents searched for an answer that approximated their experience, most didn’t believe that any of the reasons offered by Pew were very important to them when deciding to abandon their religious identity.

What, then, is the real reason young Christians (and other religious believers) leave the faith? The answer lies in a prior, 2016 Pew Research Center survey which allowed respondents to answer in their own words. In this study, most “nones” said they no longer identified with a religious group because they no longer believed it was true. When asked why they didn’t believe, many said their views about God had “evolved” and some reported having a “crisis of faith.” Their specific explanations included the following statements:

“Learning about evolution when I went away to college”
“Religion is the opiate of the people”
“Rational thought makes religion go out the window”
“Lack of any sort of scientific or specific evidence of a creator”
“I just realized somewhere along the line that I didn’t really believe it”
“I’m doing a lot more learning, studying and kind of making decisions myself rather than listening to someone else.”

The data from this 2016 study may explain why ex-Christians “question a lot of religious teaching,” as reported in the 2018 study. The teaching they question seems to be about the existence of God, and this is consistent with the explanations offered by ex-Christians in a variety of other recent studies. When Christians walk away from the faith, more often than not, it’s due to some form of intellectual skepticism. Ex-Christians often describe religious beliefs as innately blind or unreasonable.

But that doesn’t accurately reflect the rich, evidential history of Christianity. The psalmist appealed to the design and fine-tuning of the universe to demonstrate the existence of God (Psalm 19:1). Jesus appealed to both eyewitness testimony (John 16:8) and the indirect evidence of his miracles (John 10:38) to argue for the authority of his statements. The disciples identified themselves as eyewitnesses and appealed to their observations of the Resurrection to make the case for the Deity of Jesus (Acts 4:33).

Ex-Christians often leave the Church because they don’t think anyone in the Church can answer their questions or make a case. It’s time for believers to accept their responsibility to explain what Christianity proposes and why these propositions are true, especially when interacting with young people who have legitimate questions. Rather than embracing a blind or unreasonable faith, Christians must develop an informed, forensic faith that can stand up in the marketplace of ideas.

We know why young Christians are leaving. Now it’s time to give them a reason to stay.
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, Christian Case Maker, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, God’s Crime Scene, God’s Crime Scene for Kids, and Forensic Faith. 
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Many parents and church leaders wonder how to most effectively cultivate durable faith in the lives of young people. A five-year project headed by Barna Group president David Kinnaman explores the opportunities and challenges of faith development among teens and young adults within a rapidly shifting culture. The findings of the research are included in a new book by Kinnaman titled You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Church.

The research project was comprised of eight national studies, including interviews with teenagers, young adults, parents, youth pastors, and senior pastors. The study of young adults focused on those who were regular churchgoers Christian church during their teen years and explored their reasons for disconnection from church life after age 15.

No single reason dominated the break-up between church and young adults. Instead, a variety of reasons emerged. Overall, the research uncovered six significant themes why nearly three out of every five young Christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15.

Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective.
A few of the defining characteristics of today’s teens and young adults are their unprecedented access to ideas and worldviews as well as their prodigious consumption of popular culture. As Christians, they express the desire for their faith in Christ to connect to the world they live in. However, much of their experience of Christianity feels stifling, fear-based and risk-averse. One-quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” (23% indicated this “completely” or “mostly” describes their experience). Other perceptions in this category include “church ignoring the problems of the real world” (22%) and “my church is too concerned that movies, music, and video games are harmful” (18%).

Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
A second reason that young people depart church as young adults is that something is lacking in their experience of church. One-third said “church is boring” (31%). One-quarter of these young adults said that “faith is not relevant to my career or interests” (24%) or that “the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough” (23%). Sadly, one-fifth of these young adults who attended a church as a teenager said that “God seems missing from my experience of church” (20%).

Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that “Christianity is anti-science” (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have “been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.” Furthermore, the research shows that many science-minded young Christians are struggling to find ways of staying faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries.
Five Myths about Young Adult Church Dropouts

Reason #4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
With unfettered access to digital pornography and immersed in a culture that values hyper-sexuality over wholeness, teen and twentysometing Christians are struggling with how to live meaningful lives in terms of sex and sexuality. One of the significant tensions for many young believers is how to live up to the church’s expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture, especially as the age of first marriage is now commonly delayed to the late twenties. Research indicates that most young Christians are as sexually active as their non-Christian peers, even though they are more conservative in their attitudes about sexuality. One-sixth of young Christians (17%) said they “have made mistakes and feel judged in church because of them.” The issue of sexuality is particularly salient among 18- to 29-year-old Catholics, among whom two out of five (40%) said the church’s “teachings on sexuality and birth control are out of date.”

Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
Younger Americans have been shaped by a culture that esteems open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance. Today’s youth and young adults also are the most eclectic generation in American history in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, technological tools and sources of authority. Most young adults want to find areas of common ground with each other, sometimes even if that means glossing over real differences. Three out of ten young Christians (29%) said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and an identical proportion felt they are “forced to choose between my faith and my friends.” One-fifth of young adults with a Christian background said “church is like a country club, only for insiders” (22%).
 Three Spiritual Journeys of Millennials

Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
Young adults with Christian experience say the church is not a place that allows them to express doubts. They do not feel safe admitting that sometimes Christianity does not make sense. In addition, many feel that the church’s response to doubt is trivial. Some of the perceptions in this regard include not being able “to ask my most pressing life questions in church” (36%) and having “significant intellectual doubts about my faith” (23%). In a related theme of how churches struggle to help young adults who feel marginalized, about one out of every six young adults with a Christian background said their faith “does not help with depression or other emotional problems” they experience (18%).

Turning Toward Connection
David Kinnaman, who is the coauthor of the book unChristian, explained that “the problem of young adults dropping out of church life is particularly urgent because most churches work best for ‘traditional’ young adults – those whose life journeys and life questions are normal and conventional. But most young adults no longer follow the typical path of leaving home, getting an education, finding a job, getting married and having kids—all before the age of 30. These life events are being delayed, reordered, and sometimes pushed completely off the radar among today’s young adults.

“Consequently, churches are not prepared to handle the ‘new normal.’ Instead, church leaders are most comfortable working with young, married adults, especially those with children. However, the world for young adults is changing in significant ways, such as their remarkable access to the world and worldviews via technology, their alienation from various institutions, and their skepticism toward external sources of authority, including Christianity and the Bible.”

The research points to two opposite, but equally dangerous responses by faith leaders and parents: either catering to or minimizing the concerns of the next generation. The study suggests some leaders ignore the concerns and issues of teens and twentysomethings because they feel that the disconnection will end when young adults are older and have their own children. Yet, this response misses the dramatic technological, social and spiritual changes that have occurred over the last 25 years and ignores the significant present-day challenges these young adults are facing.

Other churches seem to be taking the opposite corrective action by using all means possible to make their congregation appeal to teens and young adults. However, putting the focus squarely on youth and young adults causes the church to exclude older believers and “builds the church on the preferences of young people and not on the pursuit of God,” Kinnaman said.

Between these extremes, the just-released book You Lost Me points to ways in which the various concerns being raised by young Christians (including church dropouts) could lead to revitalized ministry and deeper connections in families. Kinnaman observed that many churches approach generations in a hierarchical, top-down manner, rather than deploying a true team of believers of all ages. “Cultivating intergenerational relationships is one of the most important ways in which effective faith communities are developing flourishing faith in both young and old. In many churches, this means changing the metaphor from simply passing the baton to the next generation to a more functional, biblical picture of a body – that is, the entire community of faith, across the entire lifespan, working together to fulfill God’s purposes.”
You Lost Me
Buy: the book
Download: free excerpt

About the Research
This Barna Update is based on research conducted for the Faith That Lasts Project, which took place between 2007 and 2011. The research included a series of national public opinion surveys conducted by Barna Group.

In addition to extensive quantitative interviewing with adults and faith leaders nationwide, the main research examination for the study was conducted with 18- to 29-year-olds who had been active in a Christian church at some point in their teen years. The quantitative study among 18- to 29-year-olds was conducted online with 1,296 current and former churchgoers. The Faith That Lasts research also included parallel testing on key measures using telephone surveys, including interviews conducted among respondents using cell phones, to help ensure the representativeness of the online sample. The sampling error associated with 1,296 interviews is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points, at the 95% confidence level.

The online study relied upon a research panel called KnowledgePanel®, created by Knowledge Networks. It is a probability-based online non-volunteer access panel. Panel members are recruited using a statistically valid sampling method with a published sample frame of residential addresses that covers approximately 97% of U.S. households. Sampled non-Internet households, when recruited, are provided a netbook computer and free Internet service so they may also participate as online panel members. KnowledgePanel consists of about 50,000 adult members (ages 18 and older) and includes persons living in cell phone only households.

About Barna Group
Barna Group (which includes its research division, the Barna Research Group) is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Issachar Companies. It conducts primary research, produces media resources pertaining to spiritual development, and facilitates the healthy spiritual growth of leaders, children, families and Christian ministries.

Located in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984. If you would like to receive free e-mail notification of the release of each update on the latest research findings from Barna Group, you may subscribe to this free service at the Barna website (www.barna.org). Additional research-based resources are also available through this website.

© Barna Group, 2011.

是要造就你們、不是敗壞你們(林後10:8)

哥林多後書十章:「6 並且我已經預備好了,等你們十分順服的時候,要責罰那一切不順服的人。 7 你們是看眼前的嗎?倘若有人自信是屬基督的,他要再想想,他如何屬基督,我們也是如何屬基督的。 8 主賜給我們權柄,是要造就你們,並不是要敗壞你們,我就是為這權柄稍微誇口,也不至於慚愧。 9 我說這話,免得你們以為我寫信是要威嚇你們。」
 
我們好幾次講到使徒的權柄,使徒是有相當的權柄的,那是完全是由主所賜的;主之所以會賜權柄給使徒,乃是因為要他們去建立教會;特別是在那個時候,全世界沒有人曉得基督教的信仰到底是怎麼一回事,為什麼我們信一個被釘十字架而死,死了又復活的人就可以領我們到永生,沒有人清楚的知道這是怎麼一回事;
 
主在地上的時候不是沒有講過這些事情,只是這些事情不是用講的就可以明白的;有的人自身經歷過仍然不是全然明白,因此在地上就出現了各種的解釋,各種的作法;這樣下去、基督教的信仰會變成什麼樣的呢?會不會變得無法控制呢?主早就知道人會是這個樣子的,因此他早早的就揀選了、並使用了使徒,也給他們權柄;
 
在聖經還沒有啟示完全的這個世代,初代教會的責任是很重大的,初代教會若是走偏了,從此以後的人會怎麼傳基督教就很難控制了;到了如今聖經已經完全的啟示了,還會有許多人不照著聖經傳純正的道理,轉而去傳一些荒渺的言論,何況在還沒有完整聖經啟示的初代教會,可以想見當時信仰的危機!這就是為什麼在那個世代需要有使徒來堅立純正信仰,而主還要給使徒有特殊的權柄的緣故;
 
這權柄是給使徒的,但是那是為了我們而給的;這權柄不是為了使徒個人的緣故,讓人知道使徒有多麼偉大,神有多麼愛他,眾人必需順服他;如果使徒會是這樣的個性、那麼從一開始,主大概就不會揀選這樣的生命作為一個使徒,必要經過許多的磨練和鍛造,生命的改變,才會賜給他這樣的權柄;
 
我又要援引彼得勉勵作長老的那幾句經文,雖然他所講的不是使徒,然而其原則是相同的;彼得前書五章:「1 我這做長老、做基督受苦的見證、同享後來所要顯現之榮耀的,勸你們中間與我同做長老的人: 2 務要牧養在你們中間神的群羊,按著神旨意照管他們,不是出於勉強,乃是出於甘心;也不是因為貪財,乃是出於樂意; 3 也不是轄制所託付你們的,乃是做群羊的榜樣。 4 到了牧長顯現的時候,你們必得那永不衰殘的榮耀冠冕。」
 
使徒得了權柄,乃是為了要造就,不是為了責罰;我們的主有天上地下一切的權柄,但是他甚少用他的權柄去責罰,乃是要用來造就;除非對方是無可造就,像是撒旦及它的差役,或是已經固執到骨子裡去的人(例如某些法利賽人),那也就直接斥責了。
 
我們要是能夠造就人,不管有沒有特殊的權柄,我們也要想辦法去造就人;就我所知、先這樣去作,神也會賜下其他小小的權柄或是恩膏,讓我們可以去造就更多的人;我們若是蒙了甚麼恩,得了一點小小的權柄,就開始任意地使用在弟兄姊妹們的身上,不用懷疑,神很快就會將那些權柄拿走;感謝讚美我們的主,願上帝賜福給我們。

 

2019年4月24日 星期三

責罰那自信是屬基督又不順服的(林後10:7)

哥林多後書十章:「6 並且我已經預備好了,等你們十分順服的時候,要責罰那一切不順服的人。 7 你們是看眼前的嗎?倘若有人自信是屬基督的,他要再想想,他如何屬基督,我們也是如何屬基督的。 8 主賜給我們權柄,是要造就你們,並不是要敗壞你們,我就是為這權柄稍微誇口,也不至於慚愧。 9 我說這話,免得你們以為我寫信是要威嚇你們。」
 
保羅在這裡提到了一種很危險的,在靈裡自高的現象,那就是自認自己和基督的關係要比別人好、要比別人近;在這裡他提到了一些人,據信是那些在哥林多教會開講過的假使徒,因為後面的第12節有提到那些「自薦的人」;他們甚至開始批評那帶有權柄的真使徒保羅;
 
為什麼他們感批評保羅?那是因為他們自認他們要比保羅高明,自信基督和他們的關係、要比基督和其他人的關係要來得更好,於是他們就自高了;這是那些假使徒所犯的毛病,自高到一個程度、就敢於自稱是使徒了!除了這樣的人以外,教會中也充滿各樣自高的人;
 
我們小的時候,有一天都曾經猛然發現:"月亮是跟著我走的耶!",這個時候許多的父母還會帶著揶揄的笑容,說:"那是因為月亮特別喜歡你啊!",有沒有?等到我自己長大、有了自己的孩子,到那一天我也是這樣笑著的對她說的,那時我突然明白為什麼我父母在說的時候,臉上帶著和我現在臉上一樣的笑容了;
 
這個就是人因為主觀的視角所產生的自我中心觀,當我用主觀的角度來看主是與我們如此親近時,就產生了那種主對我是特別有恩典,特別親近的感受;因為主觀,就以為是只有自己獨有、別人則是沒有的;這一節經文中的「你們是只看眼前的嗎」如果翻成你們看事物是只看表面的嗎?(標準本和新譯本都是這樣翻)
 
英文版的 Revised version 甚至翻成"你們只能夠看到臉前面的事物嗎?",這是形容人是極度的短視以及完全的主觀;有這種視界的人就好像是幼兒看世界那樣,完全是直覺和主觀;沒想到、這樣反而就產生自高的感覺了;就有如小孩子看月亮跟著自己走,殊不知月亮與所有人的關係都是一樣的;
 
我通常不願意舉現存真實的例子,但是這個例子來到我這裡,剛好就在我寫這兩節的前一天,我相信這裡面必有神的美意,因此我把它舉例在這裡;這是有一位較資深的姐妹來找到我,告訴我她們有一位新信主的姐妹要改名為耶和華XX,這裡XX是她的本名,問我該怎麼辦?
 
這位姐妹要改名的原因是她相信她要嫁給神(基督?),因此她要像冠夫姓的那樣改變自己的名字,而且人勸也不聽;這位姐妹真是錯的一蹋糊塗,首先耶何華不是神的姓名,神是獨一的,不像人需要姓名來區別彼此;"耶和華"這個詞是猶太人稱至高神的發音,其實是一個形容詞,所以她這樣作不是冠夫姓,反而是用自高神來形容自己的名字,這就是自高;
 
況且十誡中神就告訴我們不可妄稱神的名,她這樣子取名,不但自己妄用神的名,而且每一個要叫她名字的人都要被迫妄稱神的名、不是嗎?比如說有一天她沒去教會,人要解釋情況、就說:"耶和華XX今天拉肚子了!",這樣子像話嗎?
 
最後我說,我們不是各別嫁給基督,是基督在末後要迎娶教會這個整體,我們在教會裡面,作為其中的一個細胞和主結合,基督並不是犯重婚罪的;這位姐妹如果一定要如此的特立獨行,那她就應改看看此處的經文「倘若有人自信是屬基督的,他要再想想,他如何屬基督,我們也是如何屬基督的。」,就是說我們和其他得救的基督徒只不過是一樣的,人不應該自高;
 
那我們該怎麼樣看我們自己,以及與基督的關係呢?羅馬書12:3「我憑著所賜給我的恩對你們各人說:不要看自己高過所當看的,要照著神所分給各人信心的大小,看得合乎中道。」;當然這句經文本身還需要不少的解釋,但是從它的精神我們可以領受,讓我們知道,我們與許許多多,萬國萬族當中、歷世歷代的基督徒,都是經歷同樣的拯救,也是同在基督裡;感謝讚美我們的主,願上帝賜福給我們。


 

2019年4月23日 星期二

寬容是有限度的(林後10:6)

哥林多後書十章:「6 並且我已經預備好了,等你們十分順服的時候,要責罰那一切不順服的人。 7 你們是看眼前的嗎?倘若有人自信是屬基督的,他要再想想,他如何屬基督,我們也是如何屬基督的。 8 主賜給我們權柄,是要造就你們,並不是要敗壞你們,我就是為這權柄稍微誇口,也不至於慚愧。 9 我說這話,免得你們以為我寫信是要威嚇你們。」
 
我們好幾次在文章中談到使徒在世界上是有一定的權柄的,先是談到了那「在地上綑綁、在天上也綑綁;在地上釋放、在天上也釋放」的權柄,也就是說使徒在地上有一些規範基督徒行事為人的準則的權柄;他們乃是受天上的感動而能作出此等決定的;
 
另外有一些使徒的權柄,是我們今天很難想象的,因為今天自稱使徒的,能不能代表天上我們是無從查証,但是他們完全不具有我們今天所要談的這種權柄,那就是懲罰的權柄;這裡所講的懲罰、不是指設公堂打人關人的那種權柄;而是使人無緣由的生病、甚至是死亡的能力,而這權柄,就是在當時、使徒也很少用,因為他們是緊緊的連於天上的;
 
在使徒行傳第十三章中,保羅使引導當時的省長,保羅傳道的對象,去轉離真理的道路的這樣的一個術士以呂馬的眼睛暫時失明;結果省長看見神蹟的發生,就信了;在哥林多前書四章的當中,保羅問哥林多人,是要他帶著溫柔的心、或是刑罰的杖來到他們當中?
 
這些記載、都是使徒保羅確實有懲罰的權柄的確據,有著人所無法擋的刑罰的能力;否則聖經就是充滿了糊弄的記載,神的能力也變得不可信了,這是絕對不可能的事;
 
但是我們看到保羅似乎很不願意用這種能力,總是一拖再拖,再三的給人機會悔改,又一再的告訴哥林多的眾人:你們要改,再不改我就要用權柄刑罰了啊!這倒底是怎麼回事呢?記得我們以前講過彼得前後書嗎?在後書三章曾討論到主為什麼還不快來,好像一再擔延啊?
 
彼得是這樣講的:「主的應許尚未成就,有人以為他是耽延,其實不是耽延,乃是寬容你們,不願有一人沈淪,乃願人人都悔改。」(彼得後書3:9)現在主是在寬容沒有錯,但是我們知道主一再的寬延,這是因為他憐憫我們,但他總是要來,到那個時候不但沒有人可傳道、召人悔改,並且也不會再有寬容、人人都要面臨無憐憫的審判;
 
這和保羅遲遲不願動用權柄責罰,乃是出自一樣的原因啊;因為一但責罰,這個人很可能永遠失去悔改的機會了(意指死了);只是有一種人,使徒們對他們的寬容要少一些,那就是假使徒和假師傅;彼得在彼得後書二章中論到假師傅「3 他們因有貪心,要用捏造的言語在你們身上取利。他們的刑罰、自古以來並不遲延,他們的滅亡也必速速來到。」
 
我常在想為什麼,因為這種人自己不得救也就算了,他們還拉了許多人和他們一起走上通往滅亡的道路;就好像以前印度傳了很多其他的宗教,教人無論如何不可殺生,他們如果抓到會吃人的老虎,他們也要將它放生,其結果就是有更多的人被殺;這樣對於會殺人的憐憫,就是對更多被害的人殘忍;
 
這就是為什麼保羅要在多數的那些得到拯救、能走上真道之人都順服了之後,他要使用權柄來對付那些仍不能順服的人;因為有些人是十分頑梗不化的,你給他機會、再給他機會、無論再給他們多少機會都沒有用的;但是留著他們在教會中,反而就會使更多人失去得救的機會;
 
然而正如我在前面所講過的,責罰那不信又能危害他人的人,這是使徒特殊的權柄;不是每一個基督徒都可以隨便使用,如果隨便使用,那是越過權柄行事,你自己就成為不順服之人了,我們務要小心在意,感謝讚美我們的主,願上帝保守且賜福給我們。

 

2019年4月22日 星期一

基督復活了,我們也要復活

復活節剛剛過去,世界上所有的基督徒都在這一天慶祝基督的復活;這是我們從信主之前就耳熟能詳的故事,基督耶穌在三天之前被門徒猷大以三十個銀幣所出賣,被抓,被鞭打,被彼拉多審判,被羅馬兵丁釘在十字架上,以至於死,被放在墳墓當中,三天後從死裡復活;
 
這對於我們又有什麼樣的意義呢?基督的復活對我們來說又有什麼樣的意義呢?我們都知道我們的主是一個復活的主;如果基督被人釘了十字架就死了,並且沒有復活,那麼我們所信的就是徒然了;一個連自己都沒有辦法得勝死亡的主,又比我們好在哪裡呢,能給我們帶來什麼呢?
 
釋迦牟尼死了,他沒有復活;莫罕默得也死了、也沒有復活;這些教主給人帶來了一些教訓和一些應許;但是他們自己最後都死了,而且他們並沒有回來;唯有耶穌基督,以他自己的復活,證明給我們看,死權並非是不能打破的,並且他賜給我們聖靈,從那時一直到今日都與我們同在;
 
這些都是我們常常都在彼此對說的,特別是在復活節這一天,我們喜歡彼此對說:基督已經復活了!他就是我們慶祝復活節的原因;那今天復活節剛剛過去,我們可以來討論一下基督的復活對於我們來說的另一層意義,那就是我們也要像基督一樣的復活;
 
以弗所書五章「14 所以主說:“你這睡着的人,當醒过来,從死里復活,基督就要光照你了。”」有在看我講道的人就應該知道,這正是我們剛剛播出的復活節講道的內容;但是我知道許多讀者都很忙,沒有時間再聽一個五十分鐘的講道,這實在是很可惜的事情,其實講道中有一些文字中沒有辦法傳達的聖靈感動,不聽實在是可惜;只有這一節的經文,我們在這裡再補充一遍;
 
不管是講道中或是經文當中所要傳達的意思,就是告訴我們那復活不僅僅是耶穌的事情,我們每一個信他的人也要復活,這是主所說的話,基督光照我們,我們也要從黑暗中起來復活;並且從以弗所書的前後經文看起來,我們的復活不只在死後的肉體要復活;在今世、我們的靈現在就要復活;
 
以弗所書五章「8 從前你們是暗昧的,但如今在主裡面是光明的,行事為人就當像光明的子女—— 9 光明所結的果子就是一切良善、公義、誠實—— 10 總要察驗何為主所喜悅的事。11 那暗昧無益的事不要與人同行,倒要責備行這事的人,」
 
詩篇23篇也說:「1 耶和華是我的牧者,我必不致缺乏。2 他使我躺臥在青草地上,領我在可安歇的水邊。3 他使我的靈魂甦醒,為自己的名引導我走義路。」
 
當我們因信歸到主的名下,我們不只是在位分上有改變,被神稱為義,所犯過的罪不再受追討;更重要的是:我們的靈魂也要從睡中醒轉過來,從此不再行暗昧無益的事,要在神聖靈的帶領之下行走義路;我們以前的種種好似是已經是死了,我們的靈也要活過來,這樣就會有新的看見和新的生活態度;
 
我們不會再以世人所追求的名利和享受視為最重要,不會再有頑固不能化的石心,乃是有一顆能夠順服聖靈引領的肉心;有甦醒靈魂的人,因爲對生活有著新的看見和新的生活態度,那所活出來的生活,以及行事為人就得以與蒙召的恩相襯;所以基督復活了,他也要以他的大能帶我們也復活;感謝讚美我們的主,願上帝賜福給我們。

屬靈爭戰的對象(林後10:4)

哥林多後書十章:「3 因為我們雖然在血氣中行事,卻不憑著血氣爭戰。 4 我們爭戰的兵器本不是屬血氣的,乃是在神面前有能力,可以攻破堅固的營壘, 5 將各樣的計謀、各樣攔阻人認識神的那些自高之事,一概攻破了,又將人所有的心意奪回,使它都順服基督; 6 並且我已經預備好了,等你們十分順服的時候,要責罰那一切不順服的人。」
 
保羅說我們爭戰的兵器本不是屬血氣的,那我們爭戰的對象呢,我們爭戰的結果呢,又是什麼?有的基督徒或是傳道人爭戰的對象竟然是人,這是有一點可以解釋過去的,因為在十一章14節講到爭戰真正的對象是撒旦和它的差役,這是解釋的過去,我們在某些時候所爭戰的對象真的是人,當他們在不知覺當中成為撒旦的差役,攔阻人真正認知基督時;
 
但是我們一定要非常小心,當哥林多的信徒相信偏差,行為也偏差的時候,保羅並不是將他們視為爭戰的對象,反而是視為挽回的對象;如果一定要和爭戰拉上關係的話,他們的靈魂是爭戰的戰利品,是我們爭戰的目的;那就是將撒旦的俘虜給擄掠回來,成為對基督有忠心的人;
 
當我們爭戰的時候,撒旦當然是站在我們的對立面,撒旦的差役當然也是處在對立面的,就是連那些被撒旦所擄獲的人,其實在沒有明白基督才是主之前,他們都是抵擋我們的,就好像在古時打仗有奴隸軍團似的;為數眾多的奴隸在被擄回來之前,都是會幫助那個擁有奴隸的王是一樣的;
 
我們自己從前也是撒旦的奴隸,但有人為我們爭戰過,主讓我們醒過來,先是模模糊糊的醒來,然後漸漸的清醒,最後完全醒來,明白了眼前的爭戰,又披掛了屬靈的軍裝,操練了,現在成為基督的軍隊,這樣我們才要反過來為我們的新主人,也就是基督來爭戰;
 
那麼我們是要怎樣的爭戰呢?就像保羅在這裡所說的,我們要藉著從神而來的能力,有神的話語,有應允的禱告,有從神而來的智慧和言語,最後還有從神而來的能力,我們可以攻破仇敵所建的堅固的營壘,常常就是建在俘虜的心懷意念上的,當我們攻破這營壘時,俘虜就得以醒來;
 
第5節是附在第4節之上更進一步的解釋,解釋這些堅固的營壘可能是有那些事物所構成的;首先有各樣的詭詐計謀,其實原文還有想像的意思,就是說我們有各種假的想像,很多還是讓我們自高之事,它們可以阻止我們真認識神;
 
從簡單的想法或是謊言就是:我們人類的事、我們可以自己用我們的聰明才智來解決,所以我們不需要神;還有一種想法或是謊言就是神是嚴厲管轄我們的神,我們最好小心不要犯錯;還有另一種想法就是神是可以賄絡的,我們好好的拜它,我們就得保守得享平安和祝福;
 
複雜的謊言是謊言中參雜了真話的謊言,例如將上述某些神的名字換成耶穌基督,這樣就可以使人都來到了耶穌基督的門前、但是都還不真認識耶穌基督;這種謊言最是厲害,你怎麼和已經是基督徒的人說:你不認識那唯一的真神,他就是耶穌基督!恐怕他會馬上笑回:你再說甚麼?
 
自高之事不僅僅指得是那些自認為「人定勝天」不承認神主權的人,自高之事還包括了那些說:我們認識耶穌基督,我們是已經得救了的了;例如像是在這裡的哥林多信徒;他們若是不信耶穌基督就不會被稱為信徒,也不會到教會了;但是他們卻是保羅要爭取的人,不是嗎?
 
最後的自高之事還是來自人自己,有的人在認識、明白聖經的啟示之後,他知道耶穌是神是主了,但是他還是想,我的人生我自己作主,神你在後面看著,我需要的時候我再以禱告叫你出來幫我解決問題就好了!他沒有想到他自己這種態度就是最大的需要解決的問題;
 
屬靈爭戰的最終目的,就是如此處所說的:是將人所有的心思意念奪回來,使它都順服基督,我我們有時甚至要對自己爭戰,直到我們完全順服基督;這是個很大的題目,什麼是所有的?我們沒有辦法在這裡細述,必需在別的經書裡解釋;不過這就是此處所講的屬靈爭戰的妙中真締,用給句話給涵蓋了;感謝讚美我們的主,願上帝賜福給我們。