Year 4, Month 6, Day 26: Wading In The Kiddie Pool

The Christian Post says that evangelicals need to address climate change if they want to bring their youth back into the fold. Sheesh:

A five-year study by the Barna Group, a leading research organization focused on faith and culture, found that three in five young Christians leave the church after reaching the age of 15. As a result, over the past five years the percent of young evangelicals fell 4 points to a mere 13 percent, while the percent of young agnostics/athiests grew by the same amount to 35 percent.

Most evangelical leaders point to the widening gap between traditional Christian views and those of a changing American culture – especially on issues like same-sex marriage, abortion, and pre-marital sex – as the primary cause of this problem. The reality is that for many of today’s young Christians, who are more immersed in mainstream culture than ever before through digital and social media, holding on to the church’s teachings amid such overwhelming opposition is often too difficult a task.

And there don’t appear to be any easy solutions. Evangelicals, whose social views are based primarily on Biblical teachings, cannot, and should not, change them just to better align with modern culture. And in today’s vastly interconnected world, young people can no more easily remove themselves from the conflicting influences.

However, there are issues on which we evangelicals can reengage our youth – without compromising our values.

Climate change is the perfect place to start. A large majority of young Americans view climate change as a serious problem facing their generation. And to date, American evangelicals have been among the slowest to recognize the problem. Far from compromising our values, helping to address the world’s changing climate – which the United Nations Development Program says “will reverse decades worth of human development gains” – would help us fulfill Christ’s command to care for the poor in a way that unites our faith tradition with America’s youth and the broader society.

Some kinds of stupid can’t be fixed. June 11:

If evangelicals want to prove they’re genuinely serious about addressing climate change, they’ll need a stronger rationale than simply needing to draw youth back into their faith communities. The climate crisis transcends the marketing and membership requirements of even the most fervent religious group. When agriculture collapses due to extreme weather and prolonged drought, the starving will include those of every creed; when rising seas submerge coastlines and remove island nations from the map entirely, issues of religious affiliation will be irrelevant.

Young people everywhere around the world can see that their elders have not only failed to solve the problem, but have all too often denied that a problem exists in the first place — scarcely a way to inspire confidence in those who are supposed to be examples of leadership, wisdom, and responsibility. Those who ardently anticipate the End Times cannot be credible advocates for long-term environmental sustainability.

Warren Senders