“You should talk about Jesus more.”
This message isn’t coming from a raving street evangelist pushing gospel tracts and combative communication techniques. It’s coming from the young men and women who used to be in our churches. It’s coming from the atheists who used to be youth group leaders, church members, small group leaders, worship band musicians, and outreach coordinators. The message that we need to talk about Jesus more is coming from the very people who have left us behind.
For me, this is a gut check.
We’ve currently enduring an endless amount of hand-wringing as we question why so many people are sprinting out of the church and never looking back. We’ve heard countless causes: the church is too feminine. It’s too irrelevant. It’s too political. It’s not political enough. It’s always a decade behind…
But what if instead of shouting, we simply listened? What if we muted our voices, ignored our biases, suppressed the urge to convince,
and. just. listened.
- They had attended church
- The mission and message of their churches was vague
- They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions
- They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously
These young atheists are jettisoning their faith because we’ve failed to talk about Jesus and the Bible in meaningful ways.
I get it–people don’t care what you know until they know you care. But, what if we’re so focused on ensuring that people know that we care, that we lose sight of whether they know WHO we know?
When was the last time you had a normal, comfortable, unforced, uncontrived, conversation with a friend, neighbor, or co-worker, about Jesus? What reason do we give our friends to believe that we are anything other than well-meaning, morally-minded neighbors? I’m struck by the contrast between us and the ancient ones. They resolved to “know nothing except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified,” while we sweat to work up the courage to merely drop his name.
Why are we known more for our politics than our Messiah? Why are we known more for our morals than our Maker? Why are we known more for our church attendance than the Head of our church?
Look, I’m probably the last person who would argue that we need to cram Jesus down peoples’ throats. I’m probably the last person who says we need to stop caring about the environment, stop eradicating worldwide poverty, stop worrying about social issues and focus instead on ‘soul-winning.’ I’m probably the last person to say we should stop giving people loaves of bread and instead give them spiritual bread.
But I’m perfectly happy to be the person that says that this has never been a matter of either/or. This has alway been a case of both/and.
We are obligated to both show how much Jesus loves, and tell that He does. If we want people to stop leaving our churches, we need to talk to them about Jesus.
(Oh, and just by way of reminder–we can’t do Jesus-talk if we don’t have a Jesus-life).