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Summary: A sermon about the trend away from church by 20 somethings and 30 somethings and what the church can do about it.

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The Ninth Sunday of Pentecost

August 2, 2009

Psalm 78:1-8

In the great words of Colonel Hannibal Smith, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Note: Smith, played by George Peppard, was the leader of the A-Team for five seasons on television.

Item #1: During his visit in June, our parish consultant Andy McAdams told me that this book, Essential Church, is essential reading. Essential Church answers the question, “Why do so many young adults leave the church, and what will it take to bring them back?”

Item 2: In the last week of June I received a letter from Franklin Graham. It is dated June 24th and the letter outlines a series of outdoor evangelistic concerts for youth called Rock the River. This tour began on July 18 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and today it is in St. Louis. As the tour visits key cities along the Mississippi, Rock the River will be in the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa on August 8th and will finish in Minneapolis/St. Paul on August 16th.

Franklin Graham writes,

During the last few years, we have seen God move in this generation, and

more than two-thirds of those who have made decisions for Christ at our

Crusades are youth. Researchers tell us that young people born between

1985 and the early 2000s will be the largest generation in American history.

They desperately need to know Christ, and this is a great burden on my

heart.

Item #3: Last week, I began reading a new book titled already gone. The subtitle is “Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it.”

Item #4: On Friday at the annual CANA (Convocation of Anglicans in North America) Council in Herndon, Virginia, Dr. Steve Garber, director of the Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation and Culture spoke on the topic of “A Church of Great Grace and Great Truth.” His focus was “Engaging the next generation.”

Our psalm this morning also focuses on the transmission of faith to the next generation.

“I love it when a plan comes together.”

In verse 1 of our psalm we read, “Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!”

The psalmist encourages his hearers to truly listen to him.

vv. 2-3 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,

things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.

I’ve been spending time with Psalm 78 since late June and I’ve been pondering what it means for us at St. Andrew’s. The psalmist speaks about teaching in parable form. We know that Jesus used parables in His teaching. They are brief stories that pack a moral or religious lesson. Parables are wonderful teaching tools because they are engaging and memorable.

We can test this last statement now by naming out loud those parables of Jesus that we remember. [Time was given for the congregation to do so.]

Psalm 78 is a story psalm that includes a number of stories about God providing for His people up to the time of King David. These stories have a particular audience in mind.

v. 4 We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

The intended audience for these stories of faith are our children. The call of God for His faithful people is to pass on the teachings that we receive from Him to future generations.

We are to pass on the glorious deeds and powerful works of God to our children. These stories of God’s action are not only from Scripture; these stories are also from our lives. Speak to your children about your faith – when you have acted in faith and when you have seen the hand of God working in your life. If you walk with the Lord, you have a story to tell.

Author Ken Ham reports in Already Gone on some findings of survey researcher George Barna. Barna’s organization conducted 25 different surveys with a total of 22,000 adults and 2,000 teenagers. They found that 50% of teens in the United States regularly attend church or church activities and ¾ of teenagers talk about their faith with their friends.

Barna also found that the religious activities of teens was greater than that of 20 somethings and 30 somethings. No surprise from this one. 61% of that 20s and 30s group are “spiritually disengaged.” Only 20% of those who were spiritually active in High School were still active in their 20s and 30s.

When I was leading youth groups my short-term priority was that all our kids would have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. My long-term goal was that our kids would remain active in a church during college and beyond college. It can be difficult to connect college students with churches, but that was my goal.

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