Matthew 24:11 – 13 says “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
I am encouraged and discouraged all at the same time. Why? On one hand, I see the current younger generation made up of Millennials and Gen Z digging deep into God’s Word as well as traditional church’s orthodox views and making them their own. They are asking the hard questions, listening to God’s Word and great teachers who help mentor them to a solid belief in Christ and a biblical worldview.
On the other hand, I see many, many Christians who have been in the faith for numerous years deconstructing their faith and denouncing the beliefs that have led them all of their lives. Whether it is disillusionment with how to reconcile pain and evil with a loving God, personal crisis of unanswered prayer, or questions they feel cannot be answered from the Bible or scholars to their satisfaction, they “leave” their faith for a secular and hopeless philosophical life. As Christian leaders, we must take notice and do something about it through our teaching, disciple making and shepherding
First, we must make sure that what we preach and teach is down at the level of a fifth or sixth grader. What we say must be understandable to the largest group of people. As my seminary professor used to say we have to get the cookies down to the level where even kids can get them off the shelf. That means moving away from big theological terms and “Christianeze” so that we are defining clearly what we believe. Anymore, I am constantly defining terms found in the Bible and not assuming that people know anything. I have had a lot of feedback that this has been good, helpful and refreshing.
Second, we must be willing to answer the tough questions people have with scripture, logic and honesty. If we don’t know the answer, just say I don’t know but I will see if I can find an answer. People appreciate vulnerability and honesty. We have to take them to the Bible and use cross references BUT we must make sure we don’t put our preferences or spin on the Bible AND make sure we are not making the Bible say something it does not say. If the Bible is silent on something, let it remain silent. God has a reason for that and that is above my pay grade to understand why He is silent.
Third, we need to stick with the major teachings and doctrines and not focus so much on the minor things that we disagree with. The things like the Gospel, Virgin Birth, Inerrancy of Scripture, Jesus Death and Physical Resurrection and His Imminent Return are essentials for fellowshipping with one another in the Christian church. We can debate the rest for a long time and agree to disagree. Hey, I am the first to say that I love a good debate, but the older I get, the less I am interested in Calvinism vs. Arminianism, Predestination vs. Free Will, and all the times the rapture could or could not occur. My clock is ticking and I am in the fourth quarter of my life so I am playing with the essentials and teaching those. That will make the greatest impact.
Lastly, speaking of impact, the best way to help someone not deconstruct is look for warning signs and offer to mentor. Listen to what some Christians are saying or who they are reading and listening to. That will tell you a lot about where they are headed spiritually and doctrinally in the future. Many people need someone, in a relationship, to spend time with them pointing them to scripture and finding the answers to life’s questions in the Bible. They need to learn to dig the truths out for themselves and God’s Word, the Holy Spirit along with other resources will do the rest.
I don’t have all the answers to help someone avoid deconstructing their faith but these would go a long way to avoid people leaving their faith for a world of hopelessness and despair.
May we be found faithful to the end by teaching and preaching God’s Word in season and out of season so that we may pass the faith along to the next generation intact.
2 Timothy 2:2 And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also