Recently Fusion, an organising linking students to churches, did a study on student church attendance. The study found that 73% of Christian students don’t commit to attending church at university; in fact many walk away from their faith!
I have scratched my head to figure out what the problem is. Is it that the church has become boring? Is it that older people don’t encourage the younger? Is it a lack of churches? The answer to all these questions still doesn’t answer the question to why? In fact I even wrote 2 blog posts and deleted them as I just couldn’t answer the question to why! However, in attending the funeral of Jim Farmer, a devoted man of God who served at Hamilton Baptist Church, God gave me the answer why and also what to do about it!
Jim devoted his life to his saviour. I heard how he spent decades serving as a Deacon, working with Christian Endeavour, working with the choir and encouraging others to follow Christ. In fact he served Christ and his church for longer than I have been alive. David Wilson, our Senior Pastor, summed it up very simply – Jim was devoted to Christ, not out of guilt or demand, but because of love, love for Jesus and love for his people.
It struck me, that’s the problem with our young people and why they stop going to church – DEVOTION! Jesus loved us so much that he died for us – talk about love! He loved us so much that he spent his life knowing he would die, he didn’t complain, he didn’t grumble but he died out of love for you and me! When you grasp the enormity of this I believe that our love for Jesus will encourage, no in fact compel us to love others and serve Christ! The Apostle Paul says it better than I do in Philippians 3:
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
I want to challenge you – stop blaming others, stop blaming the church, stop blaming older people, look at your heart, do you truly count all other things as garbage in comparison to Jesus? We at Hamilton Baptist want to encourage all young Christians to seek Jesus, to not care whether it is cool, whether you will lose friends, whether it will make things at Uni awkward, but instead to put Jesus at the forefront of all you do! That is why we are launching our new Youth Soul services (details below). These services will be a place where you can meet other Christians, be encouraged, be challenged but better still a place where knowing Jesus will become more important than being popular at University!
Knowing Christ is far better than going out drinking on Saturday night! My challenge to you – take a leap of faith, say no to the world and yes to Jesus and just watch the amazing things he will do in your life! My Encouragement to you - Jesus is mightier than any persecution you will face, he has more love that anything this world will promise and he will always love you!
Associate Pastor Ross Ferguson