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« Fire, poison, and beasts | Main | Praying for young dads »

Remember rather than blame

It's not uncommon for those who grew up in the church, and who have become disenchanted with it, to blame the church they grew up in. I've seen it and I've heard it from young people around me. 

They were hypocrites.

They were legalistic.

They weren't relevant.

They only wanted to control me.

They were anti-intellectual.

Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.

It's almost as if having a loving church home, loving parents, and people who encouraged them in the things of God is a mark against them. Far better to be unruly and angst-ridden and then have a dramatic turn around. That is the stuff of gripping testimonies and viral blog posts.

Kevin DeYoung, in Taking God at His Word, spends the last chapter in exhortation. Beginning with II Timothy 3:16-17, he encourages the reader to do what Paul commands in that passage: continue.  He says that whether we falter and feel confused, we ought to continue in what we have been taught, and to keep steady on. I think that's brilliant advice.

Furthermore, he exhorts people to remember those who have taught them the word and who have lived godly lives before them:

Obviously, not everyone is blessed to grow up with good parents and good churches. But this doesn't make Paul's command to Timothy any less appropriate for those of us who did. Think of your Sunday school teachers. Think of your youth group leaders. Think of your pastors. Think of your dad. Think of your grandparents. Thing of your mom. Did they not have your best interests at heart? Did they not love you? Were they imposters Were they wrong in everything they stood for? Is it reasonable for you to conclude that those who came before you, those who taught you to trust the Bible, those who have more experience and probably more wisdom than you -- that suddenly they are benighted morons? Are they deserving of your cynicism, rejection, or scorn?

I realize that the Christian blog world is inundated with stories of leaders who failed, who abused, who sinned grievously. But, believe it or not, there are still good people who believe God's Word and live by it. I often find that it is the people who grew up without that familial and church suppport who hold on most fiercely. I did not grow up with such a heritage. When I was looking for truth, I seemed to be on a fruitless search. I wanted someone to guide me. When I worked in youth ministry, I had a hard time relating to the kids who had been in church since infancy, and looked at what we had to offer them in the way of Scriptural teaching, and turn up their noses and say, "Um, no, but thanks, anyway." Why did they not want truth?

There are still people who love the Word of God and cling tenaciously to it. Continuing on does not bring a lot of fame, and the naysayers seem to command a bigger audience wherever they go, but we must continue. 

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Reader Comments (6)

I think it's a normal and unfortunate reaction to swing the pendulum away from whatever we think hurt us. I've done it. But at the same time, it's wrong to continue to live in the reaction and let that define us for the rest of our lives. When the emotions cool down, then it's possible to look at things more objectively and see whether there were doctrinal errors that led to the wrongs. It's not a very quick process, though.

I'm adding this book to the "get" list for the church library.

May 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPersis

You are absolutely right, Persis, about the time needed. There are things that I have refused to even evaluate for long periods of time, simply because I wasn't ready.

May 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKim Shay

It's so typical of us - broken, sinful people - to blame others for our faults. As you've noted, there are certainly those in the church who've hurt those they should have shepherded, yet I'm so THANKFUL for the people in my past who have diligently, if imperfectly, shaped my Christian faith. It's not a very exciting and dramatic testimony - full of older ladies in the hideous polyester of the 1970's, embarrassingly goofy Vacation Bible School crafts, shiny choir robes, flannel-graphs, and alliterated three-point sermons. But those wonderful, imperfect, lovers of God have taught me MUCH. And foundational to it all is the very simple (and undramatic) notion, from Psalm 37, to:

Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

So very thankful,


May 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

I appreciate your thoughts. When you read so many blog posts of young people mocking their upbringing, thinking they have it all figured out, it's grievous. A little humility and realization of how hard it is to discern and lead your children faithfully and lovingly would benefit them. Realizing that the Lord must turn hearts drives me to prayer. I'm thankful that He does the work, and I am called to be faithful to Him. Thanks for your post. It has a perspective that I don't hear much.

May 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDalra

I have seen this phenomenon especially prevalent in AA. At least where I live, AA seems to filled to the brim with men and women who feel "burned" by the church. Because they are still seeking, they find a spiritual solution of sorts in AA that they feel is more real than what the church has to offer. It is a sad state of affairs, but I still have hope that these men and women will come back to the church.

May 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHarvey

I didn't grow up in a church, but have friends who did who feel they were "burned" by it. These are reasonable, intelligent and sweet people. Am I supposed to say "yah yah, yadda yadda yadda" to them, or should we be taking their hurts seriously?

May 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

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