“It’s a really exciting time to be a Christian” he said to me. We reflected on this together, two strangers who met at a mutual friend’s birthday party. Many people bemoan the fall of Christendom, state-sponsored religion, etc. Churches are shrinking. Young people especially are leaving the faith. But we decided that it is an exciting time to be a Christian because you get to actually BE a Christian. You get to invite unbelievers into your home and have meals with them, talk with them, and share your faith with them. You couldn’t do that 200 years ago, 500 years ago, when everyone went to church. Following Jesus is maybe more of a challenge now than it was in the days when it seemed everyone in the Western world was a Christian, but perhaps that is a good thing. Perhaps we can now live the way Jesus called us to live: leaving behind a life of sin, putting down our nets, saying goodbye to our families, and going out to make disciples, baptizing, and teaching...believing that Jesus is with us always.
The Renegotiating Faith report was released in 2018 to help churches, Christian ministries, and families, understand the shift we are seeing in the faith commitments of “emerging adults” across Canada. It’s a new life stage we haven’t identified until now. Times have changed since the 1980s. Young people get married later, go to school longer, and don’t get a permanent job until much later—often resulting in living with their parents much later. These things have been delayed 5-7 years since the 1980s. Scholars and researches have declared this season of life one “characterized by identity exploration, instability, self-focus, feeling in-between and a focus on possibilities.” (pg 10 of the report)
Young people have more choices than they did 40 years ago. And one of those choices is whether to believe in the God they were raised to believe in, and whether they will follow Jesus with their life. It is an exciting time to be a Christian because we can choose to be a Christian, and then live it out wholeheartedly.
I choose to see this positively. Every week I see teenagers, young adults, and emerging adults choosing to follow Jesus. Every week I see young people wrestling with their faith, delighting in Scripture, trusting in a God they cannot see—a God that the world tells them may not even exist—and choosing this life.
We are all choosing this life together. How can we encourage one another on the journey?