David Kinnaman’s book You Lost Me is based on extensive Barna Research exploring the reasons a number of Millenials (or Mosaics as Kinnaman likes to call them) have left the church. The book is useful for four areas of exploration.
The first is that of generational distinctions. Kinnaman sees three qualities that mark this generation: access to information, alienation from societal structures and skepticism toward authority. Of these I thought the first the most unique–certainly Boomers experienced alienation and skepticism of authority during the Vietnam and Watergate eras–they may just have forgotten. Information access is different–youth can fact check a sermon on their smart phone during the service!
The second is his discussion of three ways of being lost–as nomads, prodigals, and exiles. Nomads have left church but not faith. Prodigals have turned from the faith. Exiles are more complicated. They believe, sometimes passionately, but struggle when they don’t find that passionate belief embraced by the church or hamstrung by cultural barriers.
The third is reasons he sees for disconnection. These include six factors: overprotectiveness, shallowness, anti-science attitudes, repressiveness, exclusiveness, and intolerance of doubt. One thing I wonder is whether those who lead such churches have just forgotten what it was like to be young and to struggle with questions, impulses, and an intolerance of hypocrisy. Most of us would have been put off by the same kinds of churches, I think, in our youth.
Finally, he explores how the church can reconnect and I was grateful that the answers he proposed were not slick techniques but a return to basics (maybe a form or repentance?): reconsidering how we make disciples, rediscovering the idea of calling and vocation, and prioritizing wisdom over information. The book concludes with ideas from fifty church leaders. This last seemed uneven and superfluous to me. I think the book would have been stronger with just Kinnaman’s concluding chapter.
My son and I, with guest posts from one of his friends who would say he has left the church, have posted a series of blogs as part of a conversation between generations around the ideas of this book. If you have missed them, here is a complete set of the links to our posts in the order they appeared:
https://rtrube54.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/confession/ This is the post that gave us the idea for the conversation.