There are a rising number of young adults (especially college students) questioning the relevancy of today’s churches as relates to countering today’s social ills and concerns. Many of these young people are spiritual and humanitarian in nature eagerly hungering to have a personal relationship with their God. The lack of so many churches’ advocacy in taking a leading role in actively addressing and confronting the social injustices in our communities is a leading factor in the growing discontent among many young people who are questioning the role of churches today.
When you look at issues related to jobs, unemployment, the working poor, affordable health care, pension plans, privatization, outsourcing, affordable housing, inequities in education, and crime, one is forced to question where is church involvement? These are issues affecting the membership of churches. Many people feel that ministers and spiritual leaders do not promote peaceful social activism to combat these injustices.
Many young people are comparing today’s churches to those of their parents or grandparents when more emphasis was put on community outreach and actively addressing social injustices. Ministers in churches of the past were the main forces and conduits organizing, directing, and implementing peaceful activism to bring about change. Members of the church were taught as Christians or God lead individuals that they had a responsibility and obligation to lead by faith as well as activism. Prayer was not enough to bring about change. Actively engaging the culprits of injustice was also an important factor. Their faith was manifested by their activism.
Today spiritual leaders in so many churches have flipped the script and adopted a prosperity ministry where more emphasis seems to be put on financial gain and materialism as a sign of receiving God’s blessing. For many, this philosophy is ironic considering that the apostles gave up their wealth to serve the common man. Many people feel prosperity is being flaunted as a sign of receiving God’s favor and as a testimony to what he can do for those who serve him. Many young people are not buying into this philosophy or message, only seeing it as a means to fill the coffers of many churches—financially benefiting many ministers. Many young people say they are not falling for the doubletalk of many ministers when they don’t promote or encourage social activism to combat social injustice and corruption.
Furthermore, many people are questioning the separation of church and state which some say is the lack of church involvement in social issues. Many view that as a smoke screen because honestly, should one separate their spiritual indoctrination or philosophy in making decisions affecting social policies? It should be a part of which one is— regardless of man’s attempt to separate.
Another issue many are looking at is state and federal governments’ involvement in providing faith-based programs to churches, making the churches or their ministers complicit to bureaucratic or systemic agendas—so much for separation of church and state. Young people’s discontentment with the church isn’t going away and may be an valuable tool in making churches accountable to their true goal and objective void of human contamination cause by greed and power. Don’t validate the saying; “I wanted to be a Christian until I met one.” You fill in between the line. Common sense dictates that one is as one does. Young people are saying that positive activism to make this a better world should be a part of manifesting your religious beliefs, especially `as Christians.