Last night I was woken not once but twice with repeated alarms from my phone. An Amber Alert had been issued. A four-year-old girl had been taken. The entire country went on alert. Prayers were offered, however brief or fleeting. People took more notice of certain vehicles and blonde-headed little girls. For a moment, an anonymous person, a random child, because the focus of everyone’s attention. And thankfully, she has been found.
Over the past decades, an similar alarm has sounded within the church. A wake-up call for the church. Our children are going missing. I know, I know, you’ve heard that right?
We’ve seen the statistics. We’ve read the books. We’ve heard the speakers. The rise of the “Nones” or the “Unaffiliated” is full of children who have grown and chosen to leave the church.
There are multiple reasons for this. Many theories have been offered. I’ve offered a few myself. But it wasn’t until recently in a discussion with a couple of kids did I start to see things a little differently.
And yes, it has to do with this election.
And yes, it has to do with us.
I’m going to share what they said. And that’s all. And it might sting. It did me. But I think we need to hear it.
I heard some kids discussing the election. They expressed some serious concerns about things they were hearing from the candidates on the news. Granted, not everything they were saying was spot on, although sadly, it was surprising how much they had picked up.
“I don’t understand…”
I can’t go on to tell you what they didn’t understand because they named specific candidates but I can tell you what confused them. They had heard on the news some things the candidates had said and done and in real life, they heard Christians defending them. And they didn’t understand how Christians, who are supposed to love God and love others, could defend the things they had heard about.
They were genuinely confused.
They could not figure out for the life of them how to reconcile one with the other. And these things were coming from adults they know, love and respect, which was even more confusing.
And I couldn’t help but think in that moment, “Christians, what have we done?” What message have we sent this generation? Who can blame them for growing up and thinking that the church is, that we are, hypocritical?
Friends, I can’t and won’t tell you how to vote but I urge you, deeply, to consider what our words and actions are teaching our children, our grandchildren, and the children who see us at church.
This is an Amber Alert. A “Wake up, Church.”
Our children are watching how we respond to this election cycle.
Are we letting fear determine our footsteps, our words?
Are we allowing God to be manifest in our actions and reactions?
If we had to stand up today and defend ourselves as believers called to extend the truth in love, would our social media platform defend or condemn us?
The alarm that Apple has chosen to attach to the incoming Amber Alert calls is loud, it’s jarring, it’s uncomfortable. I know that this post is outside the normal voice I write with. It’s loud, it’s jarring, it’s uncomfortable.
But I am as genuinely passionate about this as I can be. I don’t want the next generation to look back at this election cycle and say, “That’s when I knew Christianity, church, all that Jesus stuff, wasn’t real.”
So if at the very least, after reading this, we can, for one brief moment, all stop for a moment, look at the children, and pray for them, and consider, truly consider, the words we are speaking and posting, perhaps we will be taking one step towards finding them again.
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- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Discipleship in Intergenerational community
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
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About the author
Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, Seedbed,