Why youths are disillusioned with religion
Increasingly, many young people are getting disillusioned with religions. They no longer feel the inclination to believe in God and act in ways that are prescribed by the religions. On Sundays and during other worship times and days, a good number of young people now prefer to stay back at home and watch television, play worldly music and feel contented. The urge to go in search of God, the Supreme Being that answers all issues, physical and otherwise is no longer there. They are not necessarily atheist, some were actually believers or children of strong believers, but they are not just convinced anymore. What has gone wrong? OMIKO AWA and ISAAC TAIWO went to clerics to find out the reasons for this disillusion.
‘Church Is Responsible For Youths’ Restiveness And Cold Attitude To God’
Apostle Alexander Bamgbola, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), Lagos Chapter.
The Church is responsible for youths’ restiveness and their cold attitude towards coming to Church and God. My elder cousin went to England in 1964. He had a scholarship to study in Birmingham. We were Baptists. When he was going, the greatest gift to him was the Bible. He went to church over there the first Sunday and met about 22 people in the Cathedral.
None was younger than 60 years. The following Sunday, to his surprise, he met the same set of people. After the service, he went to the old Pastor and asked the question: Sir, where are the members of the Church? And the Pastor answered, ‘those are the members.’ That’s what the West did to the youth, who were sent out of the Church to become criminals. The Church could not cater for them. The Church could not lead them. Unless the Church rises up to lead the youths by putting the Word of God in them and let them know that there is hope in Jesus, they would continue to be at large. The Church has to wake up, see it as an issue and confront it.
The Lord gave me a vision in connection with global youth for Christ movement all over the world and this makes me to know the problem of the youths.
The issue is that this is dangerous for Nigeria because the nation has the largest population of youth in the world. Our youths are close to 70 per cent of the population and this exposes us to a serious problem. This is the reason the Church has to pray. Look at the people going to Germany as refugees, some of them turned to become Christians. If the Church would play its role effectively, we would not have ISIS beheading people; we would not have Boko Haram tormenting people all over the place. Instead of boasting in the South that they have the biggest Church Cathedral or mansions, why can’t these big Church owners send the money to the Northern part of Nigeria for evangelism? This is what we need to do in Bornu, Sokoto and Yobe States. We need to evangelise.
‘Families Are To Blame For The Development’
Elder Israel Akinadewo, Baba Aladura, Motailatu Church, C & S Church, Worldwide
FAMILIES are responsible for the position of youth today. If they get it wrong at the foundation level, we shall strife, which is what we are experiencing today. The Bible says: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he grows he would not depart from it.” Parents no longer have time for their children, no time at all to train and nurture them in the way of the Lord. Some parents themselves do not even have time for God, while some of them after attaining a particular position; align with people of their calibre who do not serve God.
The bottom line is that parents should have quality time for their children right from the cradle, ensuring they grow up in the fear of God.
If this were ensured, they would certainly love God and would worship Him at all time.
However, the Church should rise to the challenge by educating mothers and fathers. The Church should set up counseling departments to enlighten parents on the proper way to bring up their wards.
‘It’s One Of The Signs Of The End Time’
Bishop Isaac Nwaobia is of the Diocese of Isiala-Ngwa South
PEOPLE’S disillusion and the dearth of young people in the Church is one of the signs of the end time. The Bible clearly tells us of general apathy at the end of the age concerning things of God and the youth are not excluded. We are told that men shall be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. In fact, we are warned that children would be disobedient to parents. We are warned that because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. The problem again could be traceable to parents. How much time do parents have for their wards? Time is no more devoted to the training of children and the Bible warns clearly that they are to be tutored, so that, they would remember God in their youthful age and grow with such knowledge to adulthood. Parents pursue money and other things that can boost their ego at the expense of their children. This is the period the Bible says there would be love of money. When some parents begin to have some money in their pockets, they change their focus from serving God to following worldly things. They would go to clubs to play squash, lawn tennis and such others, as if their change of status did not come from God. What then do you expect of the children of such people? These are some of the reasons the youth are pursuing mundane things instead of serving God or going to Church. We can also add that some Churches focus on prosperity and enriching the ‘General Overseers’ (GO) at the expense of the poor in the Church. This scares the youth, whose intelligence might surpass that of the administrators in those churches.
To woo those already disillusioned back to the church means the Church would have to make its environment interesting. The first thing it must do is to pray that God should touch their hearts, get them saved and bring them back to Church. The Church should also be ready to meet the social needs of its members. Pastors should take members’ welfare seriously; provide jobs for the unemployed and others. Services should be lively, spiced it up with drama, games and such others in a way that they would take members to God’s Word and spiritually minister to their souls.
In the area of ministration, young ministers should be allowed to minister to the needs of the youth, while elderly ministers should attend to the spiritual needs of adult members. The Church can also equip the needy with entrepreneurial skills and acquaint them with opportunities that would enable them fend for themselves.
‘It’s Outcome Of The Desire To Get Rich’
Pastor Johnson Odesola, Personal Assistant to the General Overseer, Admin & Personnel, The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG); and also Pastor in Charge of Region 1.
THE observation of many young people not found in the Church is a global issue. Many of the youth are either drawn away by the many systems in the world today or the desire to get rich quickly turns them to the pursuance of those things that would not give them time for God. This is compounded by the unrest in the world: wars, terrorism and many of them not knowing what the future holds. As such, they try to engage themselves in what they believe would contribute to fulfilling their future dreams.
I think what the Church can do to bring them back and establish them is by embarking on those programmes that would give them hope. They should be made to know that God loves them and cares for them, which should be made practical by Churches. What we do in our Church is to open their eyes to entrepreneurship opportunities and what we call youth initiative skills. We train them and also empower them with interest-free loans. We also have scholarship programme that help most of them achieve their academic ambition. In a nutshell, they should be trained on how to start their own businesses and not depend on people.
They could be put through to farming and be encouraged on how to be self-sufficient.
‘It’s A Reflection Of Feelings Or Mind Set’
Prophet Samuel Chukwuemeka Odigbo, General Overseer, Land of Grace Ministries, Igando, Lagos
ONE cogent reason some people, mostly our youths, feel disappointed about Christianity and so resort to staying at home instead of being in church, is what I tagged “Feelings or Human Mind set.” Our youths are watching and seeing what is happening in the house of God. For example, Proverbs 15:30-31 says, “the light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart, and a good report maketh the bones fat, the ear that hearth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.” Leaning on this scripture, where our youths are not counselled, they draw an assumption of falsehood and opt out of the Church. But where they yield to counseling, whatever opposing trends their exuberant mind incline towards, is quickly corrected; so they joyfully remain in the church.
Today, technology is making things easier. For instance, the Internet, one of the babies of technology, makes it easier to view and say a variety of things to a vast number of people globally. But remember that technology is a brainchild of science and a larger proportion of scientists are ‘free thinkers.’ They contend that God never exists, a creed they cleverly spread alongside their works, so biasing the minds of the youths about Church. Also, chatting and browsing on the Internet and pinging on mobile phone steal over 75 per cent time of youths.
Again, some preachers are good at brainwashing members with messages of prosperity. They never strike a balance in their sermons, as their messages do not represent the mind of Jesus Christ. They hide behind their urge for money making to consistently extract from the people, leaving them grossly inadequate. They thereby pass on a negative rippling effect on the youths and the larger congregation, a murmuring that God has failed in His promises to reward a cheerful giver.
Differences in doctrines and church practices could be another reason. For instance, some churches abhor crazy fashions, while others allow it. Some churches believe in the Old Testament practices, while others stick to the New Testament. This confusion has sent many youth away from the church.
However, Proverbs 22:6 advises heavenly-bound parents to train their children in the way they should go. The family unit being the ‘Domestic Church,’ where the father as the chief priest is expected to impact on the children from the onset, so as to retain them either in the pulpit or on the pew. But where the domestic church has failed, the larger church grumbles.
‘Christians Should Be Occupied With Working Out Their Salvation’
Moji Solanke, Media Representative of Christian Science Church in Nigeria
YOUNG people are spiritual seekers, which is why Christ Jesus says in Matthew 19:14, that the kingdom of heaven is theirs. The youth want genuine Christianity that addresses and meets their needs practically. It is the onus of the Church to make sure it provides that.
Technology can have quite a magnetic pull, but the sincere desire to serve God helps resist temptation. And technology may become a tool that helps in serving God more effectively. Financial lack actually draws individuals to church, and it may only seem to be a hindrance, if the Church focuses on how much a member donates, rather than on Christ’s message of salvation.
Simply showing up in Church is not in and of itself indicative of serving God. True service is of the heart, so there are innumerable ways to serve, as the Bible points out, such as loving God and our fellow man, obeying Jesus’ commands and following His example.
The earliest spiritual lessons for children usually start at home, within the family, but the Church, Sunday School and other Christian activities geared towards youth, are invaluable in reinforcing the spiritual education of young people.
Young people usually have role models, some of whom may be priests. However, given the fallibility of human nature, it is imperative, especially for those to whom the youth look up to in the church, to always turn youth towards Christ Jesus as the true model or Christian standard.
Many youth admit the importance of making money. Ironically, however, churches are finding that the Christian message of salvation and brotherly love resonates more with the young honest seeker, than the promise by the church of material wealth.
Many young people love church, although the church they choose to attend may be different from that of their parents. This shows that young people are seeking their own answers about spirituality. As the church focuses on the message of salvation, the Bible tells us that the Lord Himself adds to the church (Acts 2: 47).
Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, writes in Science and Health with key to the Scriptures that the church must afford proof of its utility. As the church focuses on elevating mankind through Christ’s message of salvation, this is a form of evangelism, and the church can expect that the Holy Spirit will lead it in the right ways that meet the needs of its congregation, including the youth.
Listening to youths’ needs with a loving heart, and responding to these needs in a Christian manner, will help the church know what specific programmes are needed to satisfy those hungering and thirsting after righteousness.
Studies show that individuals of faith, who believe in God, generally strive to be law-abiding and moral. If young Christians endeavour to get rid of character flaws for example, this would impact positively on society, and gives hope for the future.
There are verses in the Old and New Testaments that refer to what the church terms the ‘end times’. Christ Jesus is also quoted as referring to the signs of the end times in Luke 21. He ends by saying in verse 28 that ‘when these begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws nigh’. In II Corinthians, Paul has Jesus saying, ‘Now is the day of salvation’, or redemption. So, rather than being preoccupied with deciding if something is a sign of the end times, Christians should rather be occupied with working out our salvation.
‘It’s The Attitude That Comes With Modernity, New Age And End Time’
Rev Gabriel Agbo is the author of the book Power of Midnight Prayer and of the Assemblies of God, Nigeria.
I think it is because of the things that come with modernity, new age, end time and technology. The youths now believe more in science and technology. And they will ask you why they would need God, when science can provide the answer. Then, there is the spirit of end time. They are caught up with this spirit. Remember the Bible says there will be lukewarmness at the end time. People generally will hate the things of God. They would delve into ungodliness with all they have. This generation does not want to accept austere or disciplined life in any form. And Christianity is about spiritual, moral and physical discipline.
Like I said, with scientific, technological and even financial breakthroughs, they would ask you why they need God. They will tell you that you are crying God because you are hungry, poor and frustrated. This is exactly the problem they have in Europe Australia and other developed countries. You only see old people and children in their churches. The youths don’t see any reason to look for God. They have all they need, so what is that God coming to do for them? If you are sick, they have the best medical equipment and hospitals, social security, committed government, infrastructure, etc. So, a God for what?
Yes, one can serve God beyond these places. In fact, God wants you to be His ambassador, a representative wherever you are and whatever you do. You should represent Him in your position, at your profession, school, work place, association, and even in government. Find a way to influence others for Christ strategically in whatever you do and wherever you are. Believers should be Christ minded.
There are things young people must learn from their families, parents, relations and others they take from the church. The two institutions complement each other in bringing up the young people. But the bottom line is good teaching and exemplary living, because young people learn more by imitation; what they see people around them do. Parents are not doing and praying enough. They are too busy and careless to raise decent children.
But there is also lack of the demonstration of God’s power. The Bible always tells us that the fear of God came upon the people, when they saw the manifestation of God’s power. We lack this manifestation today. The power is no more there. When we return and seek God in sincerity and holiness, His presence will return to the church and the people will willingly serve Him.
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