So, the Piggy Bank is Empty.

“All the youth are leaving the church.”

And all it’s variations are common in most churches. It’s not something unique to my local church, but I think at times, mine is one of the worst churches for finding solutions to this problem….

Every now and then, the members have a discussion that we youth have entitiled: “What is wrong with our church?” When the afternoon programme has failed to materialise, we usually end up having a discussion about the problems we have in our church: all the issues and concerns, and what we would like to see done differently. When I was a newbie I actually believed the concerns would be taken to the church board and dealt with, but year after unfruitful year passed and I learned that my fellow members in reality used these meetings to get anger off their chests; say things that everyone’s been thinking for ages in order to get a hearty ‘Amen!’ and slag off the leaders that they have a problem with. Then there are those within these meetings that feign authenticity: they establish themselves as the One Sane Voice: the rationalist, who has loads of amazing ideas, only to end their speech with ‘well, this church hates change, so there’s no point in doing any of these things!’ Basically, what they mean is that they can’t be bothered to sacrifice the effort and time it would take to implement all these great ideas, so they’d rather blame their lethargy on the rest of the congregation.

To be honest, I’m tired of talking too. At the moment, my church has a good amount of youth but a huge group of teenagers—a group that is almost entirely disenchanted with church. The older members weep and wail over this disinterest and I think a lot of us who are older than them fluctuate between showing them sympathy and tough love. As I’ve observed the workings of my church, I too have lost respect for the older generation and I also feel disenchanted with the way things are going. Like the congregation that was too caught up in the spirit to see tired ol’ Eutychus on the windowsill in the Upper Room; the adults of my church, and many churches I know, are too caught up in themselves to see the problem.

If you want youth to stay in church, get them involved. Treat them like the fellow humans they are and give them greater responsibility. The church I attended in Jamaica was in the midst of a two-week campaign run by the children: everything, from the Bible working, Prayer Ministries, Music Department and lay preaching, was all handled by the children, and the church supported and encouraged them. Such a thing could never happen at my church! From when these teens (and some of the older youth) have been born, they’ve had to sit on a chair and get things told to them. They don’t get a chance to do much. Then their parents and the other adults expect that at 15 and 16 they would have developed their own relationship with Christ. Why is it that we only see children taking part in the main service when it’s 13th Sabbath School? Why must it be a youth day before the platform party is made up of youth? Why must it be Teens Day to see a teen giving a sermon, or doing special items in the main service?

The older generation has failed to invest in the young people. The youth have low confidence in their abilities and lack the will to do things because they’ve never been given a chance. Money goes on stupid things instead of securing the future of the church.

Why do we spend thousands of pounds on new PA systems and speakers and projectors? Why was money used to get new mics at £600 each?

Why were thousands of pounds spent on a community day, a project that was supposed to build rapport with the community and educate them about the church, when since that time last year there have been no followups with the community members who attended? None of those people have come into the church. What was the point of spending all that money, getting the most expensive option of everything, if the remainder of the evangelising was going to be abandoned?

Why is so much money spent on lunch?

Why are thousands of pounds wasted on flying international speakers over to do a campaign when only a quarter of the church can be bothered to turn up anyway?

Why is it that young people are having to do fundraisers and rely on people from outside the church to give money in order for them to go to evangelism and preaching schools? Why doesn’t the church use those thousands for the international speakers to give to their own youth and start bringing up confident speakers and evangelists from their own congregations?

Why are students having to suffer and struggle financially through their studies, and when they go to the church for help they have to involuntarily donate 20% of their funds to the church—because it’s just so broke it now needs the money from poor students.

Why does the community services department have to rely on donations in order for their soup kitchen to run smoothly? Why hasn’t there been money put in place so that they can buy materials to give to homeless people?

Why does the church now have no money?

Because it’s all been spent on the wrong things. We’ve lost focus. We’re more interested in entertaining ourselves than thinking about the future, about people out in the world, about the youth and teens who want to get involved but aren’t able to; who need to find their own relationship with God.

Stop praying. Stop groaning. Stop spending. And invest in us.

Advertisements

I Died Eight Years Ago

I died on October the Tenth, 2004.
It was the day I went to church.

I went because I was sick
because that’s what you’re supposed to do;
but it’s discouraging to see a hospital
with dead bodies the ground.

I saw walls stained with blood
and the dry bones of pastors past;
blanketed in a film of dust
to compensate for their lack of love

Patients wailing in this hospital.
Crying, muttering and screaming—
screams to wake the daemons from their pits;
screams to make the devil laugh with glee.

I was grasped with dirt-stained hands;
cakes of blood in the nails
veins that protruded from gaunt arms like bloated rivers
polluted with lies and bile from the Beast Himself

They led me through dark pastures
dragged me under tumultuous waters
My soul was beaten and battered and the Valley of Death became my home
The macabre my mother.
Evil was ever-present and I was tortured
with rods and spikes.
My tears were enough to fill ten thousand cups
and they ranneth over like streams down my legs
‘Till I stood in a pool of distress and decay.

So here I am, in a casket
made from the hopes and dreams of many
Encased in burnt earth
with the scales of snakes making prints on my skin.

I’m dead in the ground
but I like it here. We all like being dead, don’t we?
If not, why are Christians so reluctant to change?

Sometimes, though, I ask myself:
“Who is there to revive me?”

Who will revive my diseased and desperate soul?

(The theme of the day will be ‘Revive’, so I was asked to write a poem about revival. A bit macabre, though!)

(EDIT: So I performed the poem at church this evening and it went down better than I expected. As I was reading, I started to feel really worried because I hadn’t actually realised how dark it sounded haha. But people thought it was a deep message which was nice. I got some constructive criticism: read slower. I have a habit of reading things really quickly; my tongue has a mind of its own, sometimes! But yeah, feeling happy after tonight).