Ur Video: Skye Jethani on the Mass Exit From Church
Retaining young adults begins with getting the gospel right.

In January, Skye spoke at the Lumen conference at Mariners Church in California about the exodus of young people from our churches. Rather than focusing on the sociological data, he used his time to talk about how the way we understand the gospel may actually be inoculating young people to genuine faith.

When the church presents a less than biblical understanding of how to relate to God, it leaves young people with a powerless form of Christianity predicated on fear and control. When this way of life proves ineffective, they may abandon both their faith in Christ and the church. So, our first job is to get the gospel right. Check out the talk and the brief Q&A afterward. Much of the content is based on his book, WITH.

Displaying 1–10 of 10 comments

Steve Martin

March 28, 2012  5:26pm

"The gospel is not how people get to heaven, the gospel is about how people get to God..." I would modify J. Piper's version of the gospel a little bit. But an important little bit. 'The gospel is not how people get to heaven, the gospel is about how God gets to people.' The first version is human centered...the second is Christ centered. Thanks.

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March 28, 2012  1:47pm

Jerry, well said. I do not agree with everything John Piper says (though I don't doubt he has honorable intentions), but this quote is definitely a keeper. In terms of giving us a ravishing vision of Who Jesus Christ is, I believe the early Church's overarching "Christus Victor" metaphor for understanding the nature of the Atonement (still front and center in Eastern Orthodox Liturgy) brings that into focus much better than the Penal Substitutionary Atonement model, which introduces Enlightenment Humanist juridical concepts foreign to OT Jewish legal categories onto the Scriptures and basically ignores the "union with God through our identification with Christ" theme of the nature of our salvation that predominates even in the Apostle Paul's writings in the NT. In contrast, this theme was the primary concern of all the major Councils that met to establish orthodox Christian doctrine vs. the various heresies of the first millennium of Church history, specifically those heresies that concerned a distortion in the nature of the union of Christ's human and divine natures. It seems to me this could only be the case because our forebears in the first millennium understood that getting that right is critical to our understanding the nature of our salvation (i.e, that it is constituted by the true union–the participation by grace–of our human nature with His divine nature), and consequently to our being able to enter fully into that. By contrast, in my honest opinion, PSA theory (a fairly late arrival in the history of the development of Christian doctrine, btw) considerably muddies our understanding of the nature and motivation of the "God" Who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and of exactly how it is that Christ is our Substitute. Whereas, Christ Who from the Cross prayed, "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they are doing" also proclaimed, "He Who has seen Me has seen the Father. . . . Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. . . . I and the Father are One."

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March 28, 2012  6:50am

I said this in the last post - but I'll repeat it here. This is an awesome post. Thanks for bringing it here. The FALSE gospel is ME centered - the true gospel is CHRIST centered. Self-denial seems so right - but it can still be so void of CHRIST and so full of SELF. Grace is so void of SELF and so full of CHRIST - which is why is scares religious people so much. There is absolutely no way to CONTROL it. Paul's letters were dripping with Jesus, Christ, the Lord, the Christ .... Yet most of our sermons, songs, and religious exercises are gushing with "me,me,me,me,me,me,me" and have so very little of Christ in them - they serve to "innoculate" - when God meant for us to be "filled" with Him. Innoculate vs. Fill = Tiny dose vs. Huge dose. We are already so full of ourself - it couldn't get much more disgusting. The John Piper quote is awesome: "The gospel is not how people get to heaven, the gospel is about how people get to God, and if you would be happy in heaven if Jesus were not there, you will not be there." I told that to a Jehovah Witness once - "If Jesus ain't there - I don't really want to be there either - so no thanks". Earth without Jesus is a lot closer to "hell" than "heaven" as far as I'm concerned. This verse bears that out: "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever." (1Th 4:17 NIV) The essence of eternity is that we will be WITH the Lord forever. Gold is so worthless compared to that - that they pave the streets with it - the idea is that things with huge value here - have very little value there. "Then I saw the Lamb, seated at the center of the throne, looking as if He'd just been slain....." Wow - it gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. Skye's quote: "The first purpose of the church is to give a ravishing vision of who Jesus Christ is". Amen!

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Steve Martin

March 27, 2012  7:24pm

I think Syke is onto something. There are many, many churches that have a watered down gospel. A sort of mixture of law and gospel. A little bit of God...and a little bit of you. The pure gospel sets Christ Jesus as the One who exercises His will...to save real sinners. The kind we know we are. I hate to say it, but the few churches out there that do preach the pure gospel, are not too popular. The law works. People want the list. They want to climb the ladder. But that is Christianism. Not the gospel. Thanks.

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March 27, 2012  5:07pm

One thing stuck out to me. At the beginning of the question and answer session Skye comments that the students who came to the "with" realization were the ones who were at the end of their rope. I guess that makes sense. If you're succeeding in a system, even a broken/incorrect system, why would you want to change?

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March 27, 2012  1:28pm

Much better, Skye, much better. Linda, I'm not sure that is the gist of what Skye is addressing here, in fact, thinking upon it, it has nothing to do with what he was saying at all. Skye was addressing the leadership of all American Churches...rewatch the first four minutes, he lays it out right there..."Have you ever considered that maybe your system is perfectly designed to produce the results you are getting..."

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Jan Brown

March 27, 2012  12:14pm

Well said good and faithful servant. You have hit the target. I was planning to say," but we must also have a correct view of who God is", but then you hit on that, too. It was life changing for me when I came to understand this, and when I realized that the view we have of God affects every area of our life. This helped me understand that it also affects the posture we take. This video was very encouraging to me. Please keep sharing this message. I will share it, too.

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Mike C

March 27, 2012  11:44am

@Linda, Correct me if I am wrong, but the article doesn't seem to be addressing the idea of peoples' hearts being different types of soils. The real issue is that we as the American church generally have been sowing a hindered Gospel in the first place. We're sowing stuff, but we're encumbering it with cultural baggage/assumptions/reinterpretations that nullify or weaken the Gospel's ability to even penetrate the youth's heart. It may even be that the seed never landed on the soil in the first place. Any attempt afterwards will be resisted b/c of what was associated with the seed sowing in the first place.

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March 27, 2012  11:34am

My point in quoting the parable of the four soils is to explain the exodus of young people from Christ. May God give many young people ears that hear and eyes that see. Enjoy the Keith Green song... http://youtu.be/h89-3_kIRDA

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March 27, 2012  10:52am

MATTHEW 13:1-23 On that day Jesus went out of the house, and sat by the seaside. Great multitudes gathered to him, so that he entered into a boat, and sat, and all the multitude stood on the beach. He spoke to them many things in parables, saying, "Behold, a farmer went out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and devoured them. Others fell on rocky ground, where they didn't have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of earth. When the sun had risen, they were scorched. Because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and choked them: and others fell on good soil, and yielded fruit: some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear." The disciples came, and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" He answered them, "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it is not given to them. For whoever has, to him will be given, and he will have abundance, but whoever doesn't have, from him will be taken away even that which he has. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they don't see, and hearing, they don't hear, neither do they understand. In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says, 'By hearing you will hear, and will in no way understand; Seeing you will see, and will in no way perceive: this people's heart has grown callous, their ears are dull of hearing, they have closed their eyes; or else perhaps they might perceive with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and should turn again; and I would heal them.' "But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. For most certainly I tell you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which you see, and didn't see them; and to hear the things which you hear, and didn't hear them. "Hear, then, the parable of the farmer. When anyone hears the word of the Kingdom, and doesn't understand it, the evil one comes, and snatches away that which has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown by the roadside. What was sown on the rocky places, this is he who hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it; yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while. When oppression or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. What was sown among the thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of this age and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. What was sown on the good ground, this is he who hears the word, and understands it, who most certainly bears fruit, and brings forth, some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty."

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