Welcome to the first community chat*! This chat was specifically related to the book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith by David Kinnaman. The chat deals with difficult issues of religion and faith. The group present had read the book and were prepared to discuss the topics covered by the author. Please read the chat log below, I feel it reveals some interesting points of view, and helps verify the gap/disconnect within the book. I also would encourage you to participate in the survey below to express your point of view, and to comment as well.
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About the book:
Close to 60 percent of young people who went to church as teens drop out after high school. Now the bestselling author of “unChristian” trains his researcher’s eye on these young believers. Where Kinnaman’s first book “unChristian” showed the world what outsiders aged 16-29 think of Christianity, “You Lost Me” shows why younger Christians aged 16-29 are leaving the church and rethinking their faith.
Based on new research, “You Lost Me” shows pastors, church leaders, and parents how we have failed to equip young people to live “in but not of” the world and how this has serious long-term consequences. More importantly, Kinnaman offers ideas on how to help young people develop and maintain a vibrant faith that they embrace over a lifetime.
[20:21] <Rhianna> can everyone say their first name, and one sentence about themselves as a whole, and one sentence about their faith life.
[20:21] <RossBlocher> Would be nice to have more of a balance, but I’m fine.
[20:21] <Rhianna> no bio-epics, please.
[20:21] <Rhianna> Yeah, i agree, Ross. i would prefer more balanced, but I did my best.
[20:21] <Megan> More balance would have been nice. :/
[20:22] <Megan> but you can only try.
[20:22] <TJP1> Let’s go in alpha order
[20:22] <Rhianna> MattC, you are up first for introductions.
[20:23] <MattC> OK. I’m Matt.
[20:23] <Rhianna> can everyone say their first name, and one sentence about themselves as a whole, and one sentence about their faith life.
[20:23] <MattC> I make my living as a Software Engineer working in Web Applications and Machine Learning.
[20:24] <MattC> Publically, I was a Christian until about 2.5 years ago; privately, I’d been on a journey away from faith for 10 years.
[20:24] <MattC> My only degree is in Religious Education from a conservative Evangelical university.
[20:24] <MattC> Done.
[20:25] <MattC> no worries. It happens in IRC.
[20:25] <Megan> I’m Megan. I’m a registered vet tech with ‘sucker’ written across my forehead for animal sob-stories. I was raised Christian but lost my faith in it when I was 13 after reading the bible the first time and have self-admitted my atheism for a year.
[20:26] <MattC> Megan, how old are you now?
[20:26] <Megan> 30.
[20:26] <Megan> Went to school with Rhi.
[20:26] <MattC> cool, me too.
[20:27] <MattC> 30 years, I mean.
[20:27] <Rhianna> RossBlocher, your go.
[20:27] <RossBlocher> Ross. I was raised as an evangelical Christian, but lost faith when I was 21 (I’m also 30 now). I am what the book would refer to as a head-driven prodigal. Other than my wife of 12 years and my 11-year-old son, my main loves are Animation (my job) and science (my hobby). I co-host a podcast in which a friend and I investigate religions, alternative health claims and the like.
[20:28] <Rhianna> TJP1?
[20:28] <TJP1> I’m Todd – I’m a Librarian at a Medical School…
[20:28] <TJP1> Born and bred in FLa
[20:29] <TJP1> I have been a participant in Roman Catholic Youth Ministry, College Campus Ministry, and Young adult Ministry since I was 13
[20:30] <TJP1> I participated and was a leader - not much active for the past few years – but still have a heart for it.
[20:30] <TJP1> basically this book was written for me
[20:30] <TJP1> end of line
[20:30] <RossBlocher> Nice. Would you consider yourself a nomad by the book’s reckoning?
[20:30] <Rhianna> I’m Rhianna. imp 31. I live in Colorado and love it. I’d prefer to wait to give my stance until the chat is over. It really is my hope I can remain neutral.
[20:31] <TJP1> No – I would consider myself the intended audience – as a Youth & Young adult, and Campus minister.
[20:32] <RossBlocher> Gotcha.
[20:32] <Rhianna> ready for a starter?
[20:32] <Rhianna> just for reference, I pulled these directly out of the official discussion guide for the book.
[20:32] <TJP1> go
[20:33] <Rhianna> I’ll be giving a series of statements
[20:33] <Rhianna> for the sake of this NOT being the discussion part yet, please reply ONLY with:
[20:33] <Rhianna> strongly agree, agree somewhat, not sure, disagree somewhat, strongly disagree
[20:33] <Rhianna> incoming statements…
[20:33] <Rhianna> The Bible has a straightforward answer for every issue.
[20:34] <Megan> strongly disagree
[20:34] <MattC> strongly disagree
[20:34] <RossBlocher> strongly disagree
[20:34] <Rhianna> (doesn’t mean you have to agree with the answer, just that is HAS an answer)
[20:34] <TJP1> disagree somewhat
[20:34] <Rhianna> Being “in but not of this world” means separating ourselves from non-Christian influence.
[20:34] <TJP1> strongly disagree
[20:34] <RossBlocher> disagree somewhat
[20:35] <MattC> disagree somewhat
[20:35] <Megan> disagree somewhat
[20:35] <Rhianna> I want to use my gifts and skills to participate in and influence culture.
[20:35] <MattC> agree somewhat
[20:35] <RossBlocher> strongly agree
[20:35] <TJP1> Strongly agree
[20:35] <Megan> strongly agree
[20:35] <Rhianna> I have a strong friendship with one or two church people from a different generation.
[20:35] <TJP1> Strongly agree
[20:36] <Megan> somewhat disagree
[20:36] <MattC> somewhat agree
[20:36] <RossBlocher> strongly agree
[20:36] <Rhianna> I connect with church friends on Sunday, and that’s enough.
[20:36] <MattC> n/a ? not sure
[20:36] <TJP1> Strongly disagree
[20:36] <Megan> N/a…
[20:37] <RossBlocher> disagree somewhat
[20:37] <RossBlocher> (I still go to church(es))
[20:37] <Rhianna> The claims of science threaten Christianity.
[20:37] <TJP1> Strongly Disagree
[20:37] <MattC> strongly agree
[20:37] <Megan> strongly agree
[20:37] <RossBlocher> strongly agree
[20:37] <Rhianna> There can be harmony between matters of science and matters of faith.
[20:37] <TJP1> Strongly agree
[20:38] <Megan> not sure
[20:38] <RossBlocher> agree somewhat
[20:38] <MattC> somewhat disagree
[20:38] <Rhianna> When scientific evidence contradicts a faith claim, we should reevaluate our beliefs.
[20:38] <Megan> strongly agree
[20:38] <MattC> strongly agree
[20:38] <TJP1> Agree somewhat
[20:39] <RossBlocher> strongly agree
[20:39] <Rhianna> The Bible’s teaching about sex and sexuality is clear and unambiguous.
[20:39] <RossBlocher> strongly disagree
[20:39] <TJP1> Somewhat agree
[20:39] <MattC> somewhat disagree
[20:39] <Megan> agree (if we’re again not agreeing with what it says, just that it says it)
[20:40] <Rhianna> My choices about sex are nobody’s business but mine (and my partners).
[20:40] <Megan> strongly agree.
[20:40] <TJP1> Somewhat disagree
[20:40] <RossBlocher> agree somewhat
[20:41] <MattC> somewhat agree
[20:41] <Rhianna> Procreation is the main purpose of sex.
[20:41] <Megan> somewhat disagree
[20:41] <MattC> strongly disagree
[20:42] <TJP1> somewhat agree/disagree whatever is in the middle
[20:42] <RossBlocher> somewhat disagree (depends on the viewpoint)
[20:42] <Rhianna> Other people’s beliefs are as valid as mine.
[20:42] <MattC> somewhat disagree
[20:42] <TJP1> Somewhat disagree
[20:42] <Megan> somewhat disagree
[20:43] <RossBlocher> somewhat disagree
[20:43] <RossBlocher> Glad we all agree on that. ;0)
[20:43] <TJP1> wow we have a winner
[20:43] <MattC> (note thats the first question where we all believe the same)
[20:43] <Rhianna> Faith should not get in the way of friendships.
[20:43] <RossBlocher> strongly agree
[20:43] <MattC> somewhat agree
[20:43] <TJP1> somewhat agree
[20:43] <Megan> somewhat agree
[20:43] <Rhianna> Being fair is more important than being right.
[20:44] <TJP1> somewhat agree
[20:44] <MattC> note sure (depends entirely on context)
[20:44] <Megan> not sure
[20:44] <RossBlocher> somewhat agree
[20:44] <Rhianna> Having doubts is a symptom of weak faith.
[20:44] <Megan> disagree
[20:44] <TJP1> disagree
[20:45] <RossBlocher> disagree
[20:45] <MattC> somewhat agree
[20:45] <Rhianna> The church is a place where people can ask their most pressing questions without fear of being judged.
[20:45] <MattC> strongly disagree
[20:45] <Megan> strongly disagree
[20:46] <RossBlocher> disagree somewhat
[20:46] <TJP1> agree somewhat
[20:46] <Rhianna> It’s okay to disagree with pastors and other leaders on matters of faith or theology.
[20:46] <MattC> strongly agree
[20:46] <TJP1> agree somewhat
[20:46] <Megan> strongly agree
[20:47] <RossBlocher> strongly agree
[20:47] <Rhianna> Pastors and leaders should never express doubt.
[20:47] <Megan> disagree
[20:47] <TJP1> strongly disagree
[20:47] <RossBlocher> strongly disagree
[20:48] <MattC> somewhat disagree
[20:48] <Rhianna> thanks everyone
[20:48] <Rhianna> so, I have a set of quotes with questions. If we branch from those, that’s fine. But, I may bring us back to a central point.
[20:49] <Rhianna> I have them in no particular order of importance, just by kinda-category.
[20:50] <Rhianna> “The book’s title[not this book, a different book the author is discussing that i wasn't smart enough to write down] is inspired by their voice and mindset, and reflects their disdain for one-sided communication, disconnect from formulaic faith, and discomfort with apologetics that seem disconnected from the real world.”
[20:50] <Rhianna> “Millions of young Christians were also describing Christianity as hypocritical, judgmental, too political, and out of touch with reality.”
[20:50] <Rhianna> “A generation of young Christians believes that the churches in which they were raised are not safe and hospitable places to express doubts. Many feel that they have been offered slick or half-baked answers to their thorny, honest questions, and they are rejecting the “talking heads” and “talking points” they see among the older generations.”
[20:50] <Rhianna> discussion question: Why do you feel churches have a reputation for being not safe and hospitable places to express doubts?
[20:51] <MattC> Because they have a history of being inhospitable to even rumors of someone having doubts.
[20:51] <Megan> I see part of it as the exclusivity “We’re completely right, everyone else is going to hell”, fear of being condemned as a non-believer, fear that maybe one isn’t ‘saved’ if one has doubts…
[20:51] <TJP1> Depends on the Church and their style of Catechesis. And the style of Preaching.
[20:52] <MattC> “A little leaven leveaneth the whole lump” -> Doubters must be “fixed” or thrown out.
[20:52] <TJP1> Generally, people go only to the Sunday service which has a mode that favors one way communication – not much Socratic method or relational dynamic
[20:53] <RossBlocher> Yeah, it does vary based on the church community, but I find that the sense of shunning doubters is pretty common.
[20:53] <TJP1> Often Youth ministries at large churches tend to be “show message” oriented. And if they are too large not enough individual face time.
[20:53] <TJP1> Sunday School and Catechism class are also in the instruction mode.
[20:54] <RossBlocher> “Slick answers” also resonated with me – I think there’s a lot of quick, catchy-phrase answers to questions that need to be explored more deeply.
[20:54] <TJP1> Furthermore – Youth ministry tend to favor “peer” leadership of strong Christian kids – and “peer” pressure tends to squash the kid that is questioner.
[20:55] <RossBlocher> Or admission that the question is tough, and then a dodge.
[20:55] <Rhianna> I have a tie in…
[20:56] <Megan> I got the dodge a lot, especially in high school.
[20:56] <RossBlocher> That being said, my regular church pastor regularly encourages doubt and says it is healthy, but he never really models it or talks specifically about any doubts.
[20:56] <Rhianna> “Overall, knowledge of Scripture, doctrine, and church history is poor among most Christians, not just young adult believers.”
[20:56] <Rhianna> “Technological access allows them to experience and examine content originating from nonbiblical worldviews, giving them ample reasons to question the nature of truth. It generates extraordinary distractions and invites them to be less linear and logical in their thought processes. It empowers them to think as participants, not just as consumers, of media.”
[20:56] <Rhianna> “we[the church] must teach through experience, reason, and authority”
[20:56] <Rhianna> Question: How can the church work to fix the education/knowledge gap? Will the greater education in the Bible hurt or help numbers?
[20:57] <TJP1> Yep and no – poor catechesis is the problem – Familiarity with scripture is only part of it
[20:57] <Megan> I think a greater education will hurt it a great deal.
[20:57] <MattC> Probably hurt.
[20:57] <Megan> It was reading the bible that killed my faith.
[20:57] <MattC> I had a degree from a bible college before I left.
[20:57] <TJP1> Oh – yes I reread the question – the answer is yes.
[20:58] <Rhianna> Why is education hurtful?
[20:58] <Megan> Church glosses over a lot.
[20:58] <Megan> You get the nice message with a bit of hellfire depending on the church.
[20:58] <Megan> You don’t get Lot offering his daughters for gang rape.
[20:58] <MattC> Re-reading the gospels was a big part of my finally discarding belief permanently.
[20:58] <Megan> That Job’s trials started as a bet with the devil.
[20:59] <RossBlocher> Yeah, I studied the Bible extensively, and that fueled my abandonment of religion. I also think the Internet is the tool that will continue that trend, because as your quote suggests, it’s very difficult to shut out the ideas of others anymore.
[20:59] <TJP1> Greater knowledge of Scripture can’t hurt – if it is coupled with good exegesis and a strong catechesis.
[20:59] <Megan> They don’t really go over the fact that God took away Pharaoh’s free will in order to visit plagues upon Egypt.
[20:59] <Rhianna> “Ryan says, “I want to build loving friendships with those in the church, but my main focus will be anyone who cares about the things I believe Jesus calls us to care about, whether they label themselves Christian or not. I’ve had too many negative experiences in church”
[21:00] <Rhianna> “One-third of young Christians (32 percent) identified with the statement, “I want to find a way to follow Jesus that connects with the world I live in.””
[21:00] <Rhianna> Question: Why do some feel there is a difference between that their church teaches, what the bible says, and what they feel Jesus’ message is?
[21:00] <MattC> cf. the quote, exposure to secular content doesn’t challenge the “nature of truth;” it challenges the *content* of truth.
[21:] <TJP1> They don’t see enough positive role models. Some great people are secret Christians. Some popular Christians are great sinners
[21:] <TJP1> Heck all of us are great sinners
[21:] <MattC> There IS a difference between what churches say, and what the bible says, and Jesus’ message.
[21:02] <MattC> Jesus’ message isn’t even consistent between the 4 gospels.
[21:02] <TJP1> Jesus had many messages
[21:02] <RossBlocher> “Some great people are secret Christians.” – Interesting! I don’t know if I’ve ever heard that before.
[21:03] <TJP1> Sure – we often feel cull and discourage from showing our faith in public and at work.
[21:03] <RossBlocher> As to the question, I agree with Matt. There is a conflict between Jesus’ message as presented by the church, and the text of the Bible, and what’s expected by society.
[21:03] <Rhianna> What is the difference?
[21:03] <MattC> I don’t want to nit-pick, but The question isn’t about people’s behavior, it’s about conflicting messages.
[21:03] <TJP1> I have often spent year with people I thought were really great people and later found out they were faithful Christians
[21:04] <Megan> I see a major disconnect with how the religious right treats the very people the Jesus of the bible would have been amongst.
[21:04] <MattC> Churches tend to pick-and-choose the parts of the Bible that support their cultural vision.
[21:04] <TJP1> No nit-pick – we find that it is this behavior of people that that are sending the conflicting messages.
[21:05] <MattC> The religious left also glosses over a lot of problems in the bible.
[21:05] <RossBlocher> I believe Jesus’ message has such longevity BECAUSE it is vague and ambiguous. Many denominations and churches and eras have been able to find support for their varying beliefs within Jesus’ teachings.
[21:05] <Megan> True. But what we see most of in society is the right’s disconnect from the bible’s teachings about wealth, health, and how to treat others.
[21:06] <Megan> There is that, Ross. It’s amazing what people can find to support completely opposite positions in the same text.
[21:06] <TJP1> And – people often confuse the churches and mix them up. They hear a Christian preacher on TV and think that all Christian have the point of view. – Of course it sounds conflicting.
[21:06] <RossBlocher> TJP – I’d call that the “No True Scottsman” problem. It’s hard when Christians are claiming that other Christians who disagree with them aren’t Christian at all.
[21:06] <Rhianna> Do you feel, that for Christians, it is better to be a blatantly sinning Christian or a non-Christian?
[21:06] <TJP1> What do you mean by blatantly sinning?
[21:06] <MattC> better for who?
[21:07] <Megan> But they’re all Christian TJ at the core of it.
[21:08] <Rhianna> either having the viewpoint that ‘I can sin as long as I go to church and am forgiven later’ or sin because they already hold onto the viewpoint that ‘i accept Jesus, therefore I am saved’
[21:08] <TJP1> The general definition for Christian is only a few core doctrinal things… not usually the messages you hear on TV or from the pulpit.
[21:08] <RossBlocher> I don’t think any Christian would ever consider those to be two options to choose from. They want to avoid sin as an expression of their Christian journey.
[21:09] <TJP1> Blatant sinning – No that is not helpful to anyone – it is flaunting and presumptuous.
[21:09] <RossBlocher> They feel Christianity is the only way to truly overcome a sinful nature.
[21:09] <TJP1> Admittedly a sinner – who is trying to do better – now that is helpful
[21:09] <Megan> I think that some Christians do think that way. Namely people who claim to be Christian, but commit crimes.
[21:10] <RossBlocher> Ah, but they think, “At least I’m a Christian.”? Interesting. That makes sense, though how sad.
[21:10] <Megan> And I’ve met some who feel that ‘sinning’ against a non-believer isn’t a sin at all.
[21:10] <TJP1> They would be of the once saved always saved group – not Catholics
[21:10] <Rhianna> “One of the recurring themes in our research with young exiles is the idea that Christianity does not have much, if anything, to say about their chosen profession or field.”
[21:10] <Rhianna> “What has God called you to do, in partnership with the community of Christ-followers? How can you be on mission for Christ in the world, based on what you’re gifted to do?”
[21:10] <Rhianna> Question: Does faith belong at/in work? Giving examples of film makers and musicians are easy to draw a connection into promotion the Christian faith, but what about those who work in finance, IT, sales, and customer service? How are they to make ties to faith?
[21:11] <Megan> I don’t think you *can* make ties to faith in all job fields except for “doing a job well done” as expression of faith… or something.
[21:11] <TJP1> Faith is at the core of the person… it belongs in everything they do – or they would be denying their very selves.
[21:12] <Rhianna> How does one integrate faith at work?
[21:12] <MattC> Faith is a bad thing. If you make decision at your job based on faith, you’re bad employee.
[21:12] <TJP1> If one cannot find a faithful tie-in with their work – then they should find other work – or they should look harder for the tie in
[21:12] <MattC> *a bad employee.
[21:12] <RossBlocher> I have co-workers who are openly Christian (and at least one Mormon), and they know I’m openly Atheist, and we have very interesting, polite and productive discussions. I think its okay as long as it’s done graciously and lovingly.
[21:13] <Rhianna> Giving examples of film makers and musicians are easy to draw a connection into promotion the Christian faith, but what about those who work in finance, IT, sales, and customer service? How are they to make ties to faith?
[21:13] <TJP1> Why would anyone “have to” have a discussion about that at work? That has nothing to do with tying your faith with your work.
[21:14] <MattC> If the question means, “expressing religious devotion at work,” then I think it should be treated like any other hobby. If it doesnt impact your performance, have at it.
[21:14] <Megan> I don’t want faith to be a part of certain jobs, like doctors or nurses.
[21:14] <RossBlocher> It may be different for other professions, but I work in the creative field. As a very good example, we were talking about how the Life of Pi resonates with believers and non-believers as a story. My Mormon friend and I had a half hour conversation in the hall.
[21:14] <TJP1> Easy – I organize records that give access to medical books that educate doctors that heal people.
[21:14] <Megan> I don’t want a nurse, who is religious, to decided that his faith means I can’t have a blood transfusion, or pain meds.
[21:15] <Megan> I’ve had wanna-be technician interns go “Oh, I couldn’t euthanize an animal, it’s against my faith to kill anything.”
[21:15] <RossBlocher> Agreeing with much of what’s been said above… As long as faith is not adversely affecting job performance.
[21:15] <MattC> to follow Megan, it can be far less “obvious.”
[21:16] <MattC> e.g., how many times has patient confidentiality been broken by a nurses prayer request?
[21:16] <MattC> It may not be life threatening, but it can have serious consequences.
[21:16] <RossBlocher> My sister is a strong believer and a doctor. She refused a Viagra prescription for a man because he wasn’t married. If I were that man, I would find another doctor pronto.
[21:16] <TJP1> Your faith should increase your job performance. Every endeavor is a vocation within your faith.
[21:16] <Megan> Or being asked what religion and when I said “atheist” getting “Oh, I’ll pray for you.”
[21:17] <Megan> I didn’t want my nurse praying for me, I wanted her to check me in so I could get checked for appendicitis.
[21:17] <TJP1> Why not pray for you and get checked they are not mutually exclusive.
[21:18] <Megan> Because I’m an atheist.
[21:18] <Megan> And praying for me in that situation, with that knowledge, is passive aggressive and unwanted.
[21:18] <TJP1> The real question is whether it is “wise” and helpful to talk much about faith while at work ?
[21:18] <RossBlocher> Good point, Megan. I had a technician tell me she was going to pray for my wife when my wife had cancer. I know she meant well, but it felt very unprofessional.
[21:18] <MattC> Because holding beliefs based on evidence and beliefs based on pious feelings are mutually exclusive.
[21:19] <TJP1> Working with people is about building relationships. A brief exchange that includes a promise for prayer is a friendly gesture that builds relationship. As long as it doesn’t get outta hand.
[21:19] <Megan> She was checking me in at the ER.
[21:19] <Megan> I was in pain, and cranky and said I was an atheist.
[21:20] <RossBlocher> Yeah, that was insensitive of her to tell you she was going to pray for you with the knowledge that you were an atheist. I’d say that’s bad form.
[21:20] <Rhianna> “…think about which model the church most resembles—the established monolith or the grassroots network—and what that might mean for its relevance in the lives of a collaborative, can-do generation that feels alienated from hierarchical institutions.”
[21:20] <Rhianna> Question: Which is the correct answer? Which do you feel the church is?
[21:20] <Megan> Depends on the church. a little of both.
[21:21] <Megan> Once they start going the “our morality for EVERYONE” they get extremely monolithic in feel.
[21:22] <RossBlocher> To the question, I think the contemporary church sees that its monolithic parts are dying quickly, and so it’s struggling to become more adaptable and networked.
[21:22] <TJP1> As for the Catholic Church is obviously the monolith. I don’t answer for other churches – I’ve seen little grass roots ones, too. The question is contextual.
[21:22] <RossBlocher> But I think that as it makes that shift, it loses its identity and becomes more of a social club.
[21:23] <Rhianna> The church is: Overprotective, Shallow, Antiscience, Repressive, Exclusive, and Doubtless
[21:23] <Rhianna> Question: Do you agree? Disagree? Why? What is your level of agree/disagree with each of the major topics in the book (listed above)
[21:23] <Megan> All of the above?
[21:23] <TJP1> None – of the above – depending on “the church”
[21:24] <Rhianna> Question: which is the largest that you feel needs to be addressed
[21:24] <Megan> Ooh… that one’s tough.
[21:24] <Megan> A lot of those tie into each other.
[21:24] <MattC> All except Exclusive and doubtless. There are denominations that will accept anybody. The Quakers and some Episcopalians are pretty good about making room for doubt.
[21:24] <RossBlocher> To varying degrees within each church, but I’d say as a whole I agree with those characterizations. You can only be so flexible as a church before you lose your identity.
[21:24] <Rhianna> TJP1 – these are, indeed, generalizations, as the book says. But it also says these generalizations are appearing and need addressing. So, we are addressing them. What is your take on the problems the church has that the book covered?
[21:25] <TJP1> As for the Mosaics that the author is trying to reach I would say the “repressive” and “doubtless” are the toughest.
[21:25] <TJP1> Although he does identify all of them as areas that need addressing for each of the identified lost one.
[21:25] <RossBlocher> To Matt’s point, Unitarians as well are incredibly open and accepting. So yeah, it depends.
[21:25] <MattC> “Antiscience” is the most important to address, for the good of society in general.
[21:25] <Megan> The antiscience is probably biggest for me.
[21:26] <MattC> Unitarians aren’t’ real Scotsmen.
[21:26] <TJP1> If “anti-science” is addressed well – would you consider returning?
[21:26] <Megan> I mean, I work with animals but I still get owners coming in who want to pray their dog’s cancer away rather than do surgery.
[21:26] <Megan> Absolutely NOT.
[21:26] <RossBlocher> Antiscience > Doubtless > Shallow – those would probably be my top three in descending order.
[21:27] <RossBlocher> Ha ha, touché. You’re right; Unitarians don’t really fall in the fold.
[21:27] <Megan> In this country at least, we have people in gov’t on education boards and science councils that think the earth is 6k years old.
[21:28] <RossBlocher> No, I wouldn’t return to belief, but I’d be happy that the church is not actively combating progress for the rest of the world.
[21:28] <MattC> TJP1: No. I still think its a bad idea to claim extraordinary beliefs that aren’t based on good evidence, which is essential for the church.
[21:28] <TJP1> The author tries to identify the reasons we are losing the Mosaics – when he identifies the issue – he is trying to assert that if we address he issue – then they would return.
[21:28] <Rhianna> “From this generation, so intent on reimagining faith and practice, I believe the established church can learn new patterns of faithfulness.”
[21:29] <Rhianna> “Many people I talk to think it’s impossible to embrace both mainstream science (especially evolutionary biology) and traditional Christian faith. Scientists tend to scoff at faith as being anti-intellectual, while Christians tend to reject scientific conclusions out of hand if they don’t fit with their view of the world. This should not be! Christians, of all people, should pursue truth with a spirit of confidence, and the church should take a more active role in encouraging that pursuit.””
[21:29] <Rhianna> Question: Later in the book, the author discusses the incorporation of science into the church more. What is your opinion on this idea? Is it something that could work in actual practice?
[21:29] <Megan> No.
[21:30] <Megan> Too much of the main premise of the bible falls apart in the face of science.
[21:30] <Megan> Original sin goes *poof*
[21:30] <MattC> Maybe. The Catholics and Anglicans are pretty far along in this process, but I dont think it will bring anyone back.
[21:30] <Megan> If that goes poof, no need for Jesus’ sacrifice.
[21:30] <RossBlocher> I’m all for incorporating science and encouraging believers to embrace science.
[21:30] <RossBlocher> I agree that it will lead many people away from belief, but I’d never discourage incorporating science. ;0)
[21:31] <TJP1> The incorporation can be done. A subtly of perspective needs to be done about the relationship between the too – but the book doesn’t go into the how. It merely addresses the need – not exactly the method.
[21:31] <Megan> This is true. I think that if they *don’t* try to keep up, they’ll lose just as many.
[21:32] <MattC> Scientific literacy is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being a satisfied non-believer.
[21:33] <RossBlocher> I agree with TJP that the book doesn’t go into the how (until the very end with some contributions from other authors). That was one of the frustrating things about the book for me. The bold, broad statements that weren’t accompanied by specifics.
[21:33] <TJP1> Not true – many an ignorant hedonist non-believer is very happy.
[21:33] <MattC> So, I think churches could strike a “safe” balance for keeping their flock, but it will probably won’t make much difference if they do.
[21:33] <Megan> The bible gives us a ‘how’ for creation of the world and mankind, for example.
[21:34] <RossBlocher> I agree with TJP on that as well – many non-believers simply don’t give the issue much thought, and aren’t particularly literate when it comes to science.
[21:34] <MattC> TJP1: True. let me revise that to “being deconverted and intellectually honest”
[21:34] <Megan> scientific literacy is a big problem. “It’s just a theory!”
[21:35] <TJP1> The book assumes that the reader is already familiar with youth and young adult ministry and studies and training – he mostly spend time trying to explain the current generational challenges. I was trained in similar ideas for the GenX’ers – not this book is helping me with the Mosaics/Millennials
[21:35] <TJP1> I mean “now this book”
[21:35] <MattC> i.e., I acknowledge some may deconvert for solely “carnal” reasons, and claim their intellectual doubts, but they aren’t being honest. But it’s very hard for a committed Christian to leave the faith behind without gaining some scientific literacy to answer some of the questions that the church used to answer.
[21:35] <Rhianna> “Young people are skeptical about the reliability of the original biblical manuscripts; they tend to read the Bible through a lens of pluralism; their changing media behaviors and vanishing attention spans make a physical medium of Scripture less viable; and they seem less likely than previous generations to believe the Scriptures have a claim on human obedience.”
[21:35] <Rhianna> “Finally, young adults’ location in a post-Christian culture encourages them to reject the authority of the Bible and of spiritual leaders and even to question the existence of truth. Many prodigals and nomads seek and find sources of authority outside of conventional Christian forms.”
[21:35] <Rhianna> Question: What has the church done to propagate this stance of authenticity and authority issues?
[21:37] <TJP1> Authority is a big issue for Mosaics – and previous generations to a bit lesser extent.
[21:38] <MattC> That questions doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t see that the church has encouraged the questioning of authority, except maybe in the anti-government fringe.
[21:38] <Megan> I think part of it is exposure to other faiths… that believe their holy books and beliefs are just as authoritative and authentic.
[21:38] <TJP1> Nowadays the church needs to address some many more of the main issues presented before they can address authority. It needs to be built up – rather than assumed that any authority can be true.
[21:38] <RossBlocher> I think the culture has swung over to being very skeptical of any authority, and the church is just suffering from that perspective shift. Authority is one of the main pillars supporting faith.
[21:39] <Megan> “Believe us because we says so. We are the Authority on this.”
[21:39] <TJP1> Most Mosaics and GenXers were raised with a very weak sense of authority. I agree this is tough to overcome since so much of the church rest upon the idea.
[21:39] <Rhianna> “God looks at how we shape our children’s hearts and minds to be responsive and obedient to him.”
[21:39] <Rhianna> Question: What roll does obedience play in the church? The book used the example of the story of Daniel, many would consider him to have been NOT obedient to God since he made faith compromises. Where is the balance between obedience and adaptation? Who decides the “line” between obedience, adaptation, and failure?
[21:41] <TJP1> The Family is the first church. How the family is modeled for a chld will have a strong influence on how the child grows to understand the church (and authority).
[21:41] <Megan> I think there’s too much emphasis on obedience, and it’s biting them in the butt.
[21:41] <RossBlocher> Agreed. Our culture frowns on obedience as well.
[21:42] <RossBlocher> Everyone is encouraged to think for themselves and not be submissive to anyone.
[21:42] <Megan> We’re teaching our children now to think about things. They’re growing up in a time where questioning things has led progress towards ending racism, sexism, ableism, etc.
[21:42] <TJP1> Obedience can only fow from acceptance of authority.
[21:42] <Megan> Before, people were blindly obedient to what they were told, because it was right… because they were told it was right.
[21:42] <Megan> Our kids are growing up with a wider world view and seeing “what I was always told… doesn’t seem to be true.”
[21:43] <Megan> And they’re *thinking* and obedience doesn’t do well with independent though.
[21:43] <Megan> My *dog* is obedient.
[21:44] <TJP1> Obedience is part of trust in the authority. Certainly not many armies would survive without that.
[21:44] <RossBlocher> And again, I think the Internet is playing a strong role in this. Kids are exposed to many different ideas and influences, and it’s hard to single just one perspective out as an authority worthy of obeying.
[21:44] <Megan> Many armies commit atrocities because they ‘obeyed’.
[21:44] <TJP1> Your dog has a dimmed reason compared to you – you know what is better fo ryour dog – so he does not over eat.
[21:45] <Megan> Yes. But my future children have minds that are like mine.
[21:45] <Megan> Or *will have minds
[21:45] <Megan> Blind obedience is bad.
[21:46] <Megan> And, to bring up your armies analogy, it’s not ‘trust’, it’s conditioning.
[21:46] <RossBlocher> I think the armies of the world will dwindle for the same reasons the church is dwindling. Which is fine, because the total amount of violence in the world is also dwindling (per the book I’m currently reading, “The Better Angels of our Nature” by Steven Pinker.
[21:46] <Megan> They are conditioned to obey, to not think.
[21:46] <TJP1> Your children, when they are young, have dimmed minds they most first obey not to cross the street before they understand why.
[21:46] <Megan> My parents explained. I understood that rule as early as 3.
[21:46] <Megan> And I knew *why*.
[21:46] <TJP1> And for a retarded child ?
[21:47] <Megan> TJ, don’t *even* go there. You will not like the result.
[21:47] <Rhianna> “The problem is not that this generation has been less churched than children and teens before them; the problem is that much spiritual energy fades away during a crucial decade of life—the twenties.”
[21:47] <Rhianna> “Adults identify as Christians typically because they had formative experiences as a child or as a teenager that connected them to Christianity. But that connection is often shallow and on the surface, having more to do with cultural identification than it does with deep faith.”
[21:47] <Rhianna> “Too many are incapable of reasoning clearly about their faith and unwilling to take real risks for Christ’s sake”
[21:47] <Rhianna> Question: How does this concept, of twenty year olds leaving the church, coordinate with the concept that adults (18+) are able to critically think on their own? s that actually make you a “member”? Can a child actually be “Christian” before they can analyze and agree with the lessons taught? This is more than factual school learning (math, English, etc.) – this is reasoning and theology which is considered beyond the mental capacity of children and taught in college or as a starter high school course.
[21:48] <Megan> I think children can “be” Christian without understanding all the implications simply because they were raised in that faith and absorbed it.
[21:48] <Megan> Just like I’m American because I was born here, and grew up here.
[21:48] <TJP1> Catholics in the early 20th century developed the Baltimore Catechism – it was for children to try to address things at thier level.
[21:49] <RossBlocher> I would like to see an emphasis on letting a child choose his or her own beliefs and not feel beholden to tow the party line. In my perfect world.
[21:49] <Megan> But I do not think they should be ‘confirmed’ or ‘baptized’ until they do fully understand, and demonstrate that understanding.
[21:49] <TJP1> It can be a very helpful thing to address things at the level of understanding. The problem came in when the kids left and the last theological text they read was that child’s book
[21:50] <TJP1> They went around for the rest of their lives as practicing – and non-practicing Catholics with the faith development of a 10 year old.
[21:50] <RossBlocher> I agree with Megan. Those official pronouncements of belief (confirmation, baptism, even dedication) should be saved for older children at least.
[21:51] <TJP1> I have seen this time and again – people in ministry and practicing their faith – with now more understanding than what they were told in CCD class at age 13. And they didn’t even get good grades at it.
[21:52] <Megan> TJ, how do you define depth of understanding of the faith?
[21:52] <TJP1> If they are pious – then this is not a problem. But, when they have doubts and are challenged by life – this childish understanding is simply not enough.
[21:52] <MattC> As for training children, I think if your concern is helping children to know truth, then you’re better off teaching them how to ask good questions, not giving the pre-constructed answers.
[21:53] <Megan> Definitely agreed, Matt.
[21:53] <MattC> And I have yet to see any catechism that I would classify as *good* questions.
[21:54] <RossBlocher> Great point. Teaching a child how to learn is far more important than teaching specific facts/beliefs.
[21:54] <TJP1> The church has a large deposit of 2000 yrs of traditional teachings – why should I not share it? If I believe it to be true should I not teach it to my children and the children presented to me?
[21:54] <TJP1> Asking questions is good — and presenting good answers is also good.
[21:54] <MattC> but presenting reliable methods for confirming truth for oneself is better,
[21:55] <Megan> TJ, what do you consider proper “depth” of faith?
[21:55] <Megan> or ‘maturity’
[21:56] <TJP1> Good – question – depth of faith would differ for various people. As we see in this book – various personalities need to have different aspects addressed. - Yet – I would say a better understanding of the catechism teachings. First the catechism of a child and then as an adult. This is at least a starting point.
[21:57] <TJP1> But – most to the point – the author states the “relationship” is where this all starts.
[21:57] <Megan> So why do you say that some people have a “childish” faith?
[21:57] <TJP1> Without a caring trusting relationship no minister has a chance at reaching out and reclaiming the lost.
[21:58] <TJP1> Yes – I know many people that have a childish understanding of the faith.
[21:59] <Megan> How is that not just a different depth? What if that’s all they need?
[21:59] <Megan> How exactly do you define “childish”?
[21:59] <MattC> So you want adult understanding but child-like submission to authority? Let them have cake and you’ll eat it too.
[21:59] <TJP1> I know this because I have my conversations about the faith with people that claim to be good catholic that went to CCD – and they don’t get the answers right – or they present a childish answer that is clearly unsuited for an adult reality.
[22:00] <Megan> Why were they taught things unsuitable for reality then?
[22:00] <MattC> ..and why is adult reality about religious claims different from childhood reality about the same?
[22:00] <TJP1> They were taught what was suitable at that age.
[22:] <Megan> That’s just silly then, and probably part of the problem.
[22:] <MattC> example?
[22:] <TJP1> Often we use metaphor to explain various things . A metaphor is useless without a frame of reference.
[22:02] <TJP1> A child’s frame of reference demands an apt metaphor.
[22:02] <MattC> like what? Give us a metaphor that expresses something that is true for a child, but not an adult.
[22:03] <TJP1> Birds and the bees – “when two people love each other they get very close and then a baby if formed in the mommy’s tummy”
[22:03] <Megan> I knew about reproduction when I was 4.
[22:04] <Megan> I didn’t need a metaphor. The science worked.
[22:04] <TJP1> This is a “true” explanation and suitable for a 6 year old
[22:04] <Megan> Why is the mechanics of mating not suitable for a 6 year old?
[22:04] <TJP1> A 10 year old needs a bit more.
[22:04] <Megan> Why was I not traumatized at age 4 to learn what sex was?
[22:04] <MattC> It’s also true for an adult; just incomplete. Also, that’s a not a claim unique to Christianity.
[22:04] <TJP1> Its an example please don’t ager about the age that I placed there.
[22:05] <Megan> After all, discovery channel has plenty of shows that go on about mating, pregnancy, parturition and whatnot.
[22:05] <Megan> No, I’m arguing the *necessity* of a metaphor at all for that.
[22:06] <TJP1> Not all children, or people have the same learning style – and understanding style. For many people metaphor works better.
[22:06] <Megan> TJ: won’t know unless you try the truth.
[22:05] <Rhianna> Thoughts on the book?
[22:05] <RossBlocher> Just to state my main gripe… I get that the book was written for believers who are trying to preserve and strengthen the church, but I was frustrated with the premise that the church’s flaws are only a matter of presentation. There’s a big possibility the book is overlooking: perhaps the teachings are simply incorrect, and that’s why people are leaving. I wish that possibility was at least acknowledged for a split second
[22:06] <Megan> The author was painfully condescending to non-believers and those who are wandering.
[22:07] <Megan> I can normally read a book that length in a sitting. It took me the entire time as I had to keep putting it down in outrage.
[22:07] <RossBlocher> I definitely didn’t appreciate the “prodigal” title. The word “prodigal” has a meaning that is very pejorative, and the biblical allusion just makes it sound like those former believers have wandered away and are now wallowing with the pigs.
[22:07] <TJP1> Ross – you are correct. This book was written for the young adult minister who is a believer and wants to reclaim the lost. That is the major premise of the book. It is not a book about addressing the reasons.
[22:08] <Megan> Except that the author specifically mentioned us ‘prodigals’ and that he hoped he could bring *us* back.
[22:08] <Megan> And then writes a book that is condescending in the extreme.
[22:08] <MattC> I agree with Ross. The author could not even consider the possibility that the deconverted might have legitimate, logical reasons for leaving. It is assumed that when someone leaves, it’s because their reasoning or the churches communication was deficient.
[22:09] <TJP1> Yes – he mentioned it, I suppose, he know some might read it. And perhaps get a better understanding of the information he was presenting.
[22:09] <MattC> I didn’t find the tone to be especially condescending, personally.
[22:09] <Megan> There were some sexist passages, and there was one comment near the end… let me find it.
[22:09] <RossBlocher> I was interviewed at length for the video companion series to “You Lost Me”, and made a lot of those points in the video that the book was lacking. I think the video series is a lot more broad-based in its treatment of the topic.
[22:10] <Megan> Here’s one: “If you’re a nomad or a prodigal, I urge you to search your heart with the help of the Holy Spirit. Maybe it’s time to return home.”
[22:11] <TJP1> What’s wrong with that – sound like a genuine plea for a concerned Christian.
[22:11] <RossBlocher> Ta da. So… he was at least in part writing to “prodigals”. I’d call it more tone-deaf than condescending.
[22:11] <TJP1> It was, at least a challenge.
[22:12] <Megan> A challenge? To what, ask the invisible pink unicorn to help me?
[22:13] <TJP1> Again the author hopes that all of “the lost” had their reasons. His premise is that if we (the ministers) build a strong relationship and address the real reason the people left – then they would come home.
[22:13] <Megan> Gah, can’t find the quote, but he at one point says some problem isn’t *just* the fact that the younger generation is shallow, inattentive and exhibitionist.
[22:13] <Megan> I’m not lost.
[22:13] <Megan> It’s condescending to assume I am.
[22:13] <Rhianna> I think the disconnect is who the intended audience is
[22:13] <RossBlocher> I think the disconnect here is that those of us who have left the church already know about the Holy Spirit and all the arguments for belief. He’s acting as though we just haven’t tried hard enough.
[22:14] <TJP1> From his perspective these people are lost They left the church. He wrote the book from his perspective and genuine concern for these people.
[22:14] <MattC> The real reason (some) people leave is that Christianity makes false claims. It really is that simple.
[22:14] <Megan> You wouldn’t find it condescending to have a stranger come up to you and say “Oh honey, if you would just get rid of that silly faith thing you’ve got, you’d be such a better person.”?
[22:15] <TJP1> I think the disconnect is that often the stated reason for leaving is not the “real” reason for leaving. And he is grappling with both of those realities.
[22:15] <Megan> I left Christianity because I found the god described in the bible to be *evil*.
[22:15] <MattC> Someone who believes in the Holy Spirit is not really a prodigal, are they?
[22:15] <RossBlocher> I agree that we (non-believers) aren’t the prime target for the book, but I still see the efforts as futile. Even if all the ministers out there took his (vague) advice, I don’t think it would help the church one bit in stemming the tide of people leaving.
[22:16] <TJP1> Someone who believes in the Hold Spirit but does not belong to a church would fit another definition – not the prodigal – perhaps the “Wanderer”
[22:16] <Megan> Agreed. The efforts are mostly futile in the end.
[22:17] <TJP1> I would hope that if the concerns of those that left are properly addressed that a sincere person would return.
[22:17] <Rhianna> I would like to thank everyone for coming tonight, i know it was very late for some of you.
[22:17] <Rhianna> And thank you for keeping it as civil as possible. Matters of religion usually bring out a lot of passion on every side.
[22:17] <Rhianna> It’s almost like the end of a little league game where everyone has to shake hands with the opposite teams.
[22:17] <RossBlocher> Congrats to TJP for holding up under the uneven representation. I’m used to being in the reverse position. I hope everyone felt it was civil.
[22:17] <TJP1> Except we all won !
[22:18] <Rhianna> To finish the evening: a statement and a question…
[22:19] <Rhianna> I’m Rhianna. I’m 31 years old and have a Master’s Degree in Adult Learning and Instructional Design. I’m a happy agnostic who emotionally left the church when I was 17, and officially when I was 26. I was raised Catholic.
[22:19] <Rhianna> Question: What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
[22:19] <TJP1> Asian of African?
[22:19] <MattC> African or European?
[22:19] <Megan> An African or a European swallow?
[22:19] <Rhianna> MattC for the win.
[22:20] <Rhianna> Here’s a juice box and a rice crispy treat.
[22:20] <RossBlocher> 42.
[22:20] <Megan> D:
[22:20] <TJP1> Dang – my answer for a laden elephant !
[22:20] <MattC> lol
[22:20] <Rhianna> Again, thank you everyone! This will be up on my blog on the 25th. I will link it. My own review of the book (and my agnostic story) are out March 1st. I hope you all read it and didn’t’ find this venture too torturous.
[22:21] <TJP1> Thanks – everyone – and thanks to our hostess – the lovely Rhianna. Good Night and (I hope I do not offend) God Bless.
[22:21] <MattC> Thanks for hosting the discussion, Rhianna
[22:21] <Megan> It was quite interesting.
[22:21] <Rhianna> Thank you for joining.
[22:21] <MattC> Good night all, Luck of the Leprechauns to you all.
[22:21] <RossBlocher> Thanks, Rhianna, Todd, Matt and Megan!
[22:22] <Megan> May you be touched by the noodly appendage of the FSM.