Sunday, May 15, 2011

Initial Thoughts on Don't Call It a Comeback by Kevin DeYoung

I just started reading Don’t Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith For A New Day edited by Kevin DeYoung. Having read one previous book by DeYoung, Why We Are Not Emergent by Two Guys Who Should Be and enjoying it, I am interested in reading another book by him. Regarding the subject, it seems that many young adults are very attracted to the “emergent church” with, what I believe is, long-standing liberal teaching led by teachers such as Rob Bell and Brian McClaren. The praise for Rob Bell’s Love Wins solidifies my concerns over “emergent teaching”. On the other hand, I have heard many young adults are attracted to a conservative, fundamental faith with substantive biblical teaching. From what I hear, it seems that many young adults are attracted to the teachings of people like Mark Driscoll, John Piper, and teaching from Sovereign Grace churches. The thousands who attend “Passions Conferences” are attracted to substantive teaching. From my personal experience of teaching young adults, I found that many are simply not interested in substantive biblical teaching, but others hunger for God’s truth, study diligently, and want to apply biblical teaching to their lives. In light of this division amount young adults, I am interested in read DeYoung’s view.

In the Introduction, DeYoung explains that he grew up in church but, as a freshman in college, discovered he could not articulate “what I believe and why I believe it” and did not have a good grasp of some of the most foundational doctrines in Christian faith. He wishes he had been challenged more as a teenager. Based upon his background, he has two goals for this book. First, to introduce young and underdiscipled Christians to the most important articles of faith and what it looks like to live out this faith in real life. Second, to reassert the theological nature of evangelicalism. The book is divided into three sections. Part one is a brief, and I emphasize brief, history of evangelicalism. Part two is a survey of theology. Part three is applying theology to life by looking at specific issues such as social justice, homosexuality, abortion, gender confusion, the local church, worship, and missions.

The first chapter, written by DeYoung, is entitled “The Secret to Reaching the Next Generation”. Since I spent years teaching young adults, I was very interested in how to reach young adults. Also, I am interested in how to reach my children as they become young adults. According to DeYoung, many churches try to reach young adults by keeping up with the latest trends such as music, fashion, using their language, watching the right television shows, and looking like them. However, he believes this is not how to reach young adults; rather, he stresses five keys, which are (1) grabbing them with passion, (2) winning them with love, (3) holding them with holiness, (4) challenging them with truth, and (5) amazing them with God. He explains his meaning of these in the rest of the chapter.

I agree with his assessment and like it because it stresses substance rather than superficial feelings and passing trends. Regarding passion, young adults want to believe that something is real. If it is real, then a person will have passion about it. The reason that many people are not attracted to Christ is because many Christians are just going through the motions, have no convictions, live apathetically, and have no passion. Specifically, young adults see no passion in their parents, so they reject a superficial faith held by their parents. If we really believe in Christ, then we should be passionate about Him. As stated before, DeYoung emphasizes substance, which is seen when he stresses holiness and truth. He wants young adults to know substantive biblical truth, which leads to living holy lives. This is a high standard and very challenging. Finally, he talks about being amazed by God. I think this is somewhat related to passion. If we are amazed by God, then we will be passionate. I also think this results in worship. When we see God for who He is, then our natural reaction should be amazement. Just read the first few verses of Isaiah 6 or Revelation 4; you have to be amazed and just say “Wow! He is AWESOME!” Warren Wiersbe, in Real Worship, explains that when people truly worship God, then they start living godly lives. Godly lives are a natural result of people who know God and realize how great He is.

I find these five keys to be personally challenging. I need to have passion in my life; passion that demonstrates the true substance of my faith. I need to love people. No one will care what I believe if I do not show love to them. When people see my love, then I earn a license to tell them about Christ. I need to live holy. I need to be continually learning God’s truth. I need to be truly worshiping God. Then, I need to pass these along to my wife, children, and people I minister to in my life.

At one point, DeYoung talks about teens leaving the church. He refers to a youth leader who explained that attendance at youth events (including Sunday School and discipleship groups) is not a good predictor of which teens would, and would not, grow toward Christian adulthood. Instead, “almost without exception, those young people who are growing in their faith as adults were teenagers who fit into one of two categories: either (1) they came from families where Christian growth was modeled in at least one of their parents, or (2) they had developed such significant connections with adults in the church that it had become an extended family for them.” Similarly, he refers to a Christian sociologist who says, “a lot of research in the sociology of religion suggests that the most important social influence in shaping young people’s religious lives is the religious life modeled and taught to them by their parents.” This should challenge every parent so that we can see our children grow up to be adults who passionately love and serve God.

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