Where Have All The Children Gone?

First published March 2017

The Reverend Ray Gibbs wonders why so many young people have moved away from the Church and encourages us to reflect on how we can welcome them back.

March arrives and Lent arrives at the same time this year, so as nature begins to awaken from a long winter pause, we too, spiritually should be ready to awaken. As nature makes ready to burst into life and show itself in all its glory, so should we be making ready to burst into Easter life, and proclaim Jesus’ glory, but…. and I have to be brutally honest here: we are not very good at it.

There is a reluctance in congregations to learn about the faith, to talk about faith, and to live as an outward sign of what we believe within. That old saying: ‘never talk about religion and politics’ to avoid an argument during a night down the pub, is rapidly for many turning into: ‘I’ll never ever talk about my faith, even with other Christians’. What are we so afraid of?  Is it a lack of Bible knowledge, or awkwardness around praying?

For years during the summer thousands of young people used to attend Christian festivals, literally 10,000 a week would attend ‘Soul Survivor’, but where have these young Christians gone? Thousands of young children used to attend Sunday schools, sing in church choirs, attend church youth groups, and that covers virtually every generation, but where are they now? What has happened to them? What has the Church got so wrong: Jesus is still Jesus, and the Church is his heart, mind, body, ears and voice, and yet……

That is what our 4 week Lent course is all about, so give up the telly, or something else, and for four weeks during Lent, attend with me: ‘Lost and Found – reaching today's prodigals.’  Prodigal sons and daughters, that’s what they are, and they need to come home.