David Kinnaman has written what I suspect will be a much-discussed, perhaps much-debated, book about why it is that young adults are walking out the doors of the church. His book is called You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith. David’s previous book, called unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters, focused on outsiders. This one focuses on insiders — those reared in the church. It offers description of various types of young adults who are walking away from the church.
David’s research has led him to six major elements of “disconnection” with the church that leads to those reared in the faith to becoming “nomads” or “prodigals” or “exiles.” Here are the six major elements of disconnection:
1. Overprotective. Mosaics are shaped more by creativity, cultural engagements and progressivism — re-imagine, re-create, re-think — while the church tends toward the conservative, the traditional, and the lack of change.
2. Shallow. Too many platitudes, too simple of proof texting, and formulaic slogans are a problem for Mosaics. A church that is thin theologically, and who can gainsay this for far too many of America’s churches?, cannot respond adequately to the deeper level of questions of many Mosaics.
3. Antiscience. Faith and science are incompatible for many Mosaics. Science works, as they experience daily. What does this say for faith? Not much. Science is not afraid, the church is. Thank God for someone like RJS on this site, and this is not a statement about her own beliefs and conclusions but about the posture of asking questions and probing.
4. Repressive. Religious rules stifle Mosaics who are so individualist and sexually-oriented. How has the church shown that it has understood sexuality, and how has the church responded? How can a church be trusted when so many of its members are divorced? Is this just about sex or is this even more about relationality?
5. Exclusive. Mosaics are shaped by tolerance, open-mindedness, and acceptance, and the church seems so exclusive and boundary-driven. How can the church challenge such Mosaics?
6. Doubtless (no doubts allowed). Many Mosaics openly claim the church does not permit and does not welcome their own doubts. It is not safe. I still think the emerging movement offered shelter for those who were told not to doubt. This doubt is both intellectual and institutional. Will the church be able to integrate their questions into a life of faith?