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Originally Posted by Epiphanius
Originally Posted by asianpilgrim
What surprises me is that way the loss of the youth is always interpreted as the Church failing to do what it should do. The fact is that many of the youth leave the Church precisely because the Church will not surrender on its principles. Sometimes, fidelity does result in temporary decline... this should not be a surprise.

I really don't think that very many of the youth reject the Church's principles outright until after they have either been "burned" by the Church and already have resentments against it, or they have grown up in ignorance of the those principles were and subsequently "formed their consciences" according to the prevailing secular philosophy.


Not necessarily. I and many other gave up on God, Christ, and the Church for years. It wasn't necessarily a formal apostasy. It was usually just not practicing. It wasn't because of differences of belief, or differences of liturgical preferences, or ignorance, or resentments. It was because, during my 20s and early 30s, I was more interested in making money, having sex, and having a "good time" -- and I didn't care if it was a sin.

A lot of people won't come back to the Church till they discover for themselves the emptiness of that kind of life. That's how it happened for me and lots of other people like me.

And all that we in the Church can do is pray for them, be there for them, be a good example (without being too heavy-handed about it), welcome them back if they come, and love them no matter what. I know because that is what I'm learning to do with my own nephews as they go through their 20s now . . .

-- John



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Originally Posted by harmon3110
Originally Posted by Epiphanius
Originally Posted by asianpilgrim
What surprises me is that way the loss of the youth is always interpreted as the Church failing to do what it should do. The fact is that many of the youth leave the Church precisely because the Church will not surrender on its principles. Sometimes, fidelity does result in temporary decline... this should not be a surprise.

I really don't think that very many of the youth reject the Church's principles outright until after they have either been "burned" by the Church and already have resentments against it, or they have grown up in ignorance of the those principles were and subsequently "formed their consciences" according to the prevailing secular philosophy.


Not necessarily. I and many other gave up on God, Christ, and the Church for years. It wasn't necessarily a formal apostasy. It was usually just not practicing. It wasn't because of differences of belief, or differences of liturgical preferences, or ignorance, or resentments. It was because, during my 20s and early 30s, I was more interested in making money, having sex, and having a "good time" -- and I didn't care if it was a sin.

A lot of people won't come back to the Church till they discover for themselves the emptiness of that kind of life. That's how it happened for me and lots of other people like me.

And all that we in the Church can do is pray for them, be there for them, be a good example (without being too heavy-handed about it), welcome them back if they come, and love them no matter what. I know because that is what I'm learning to do with my own nephews as they go through their 20s now . . .

-- John

Very factual and insightful post.

We need to remember that the majority of teens and adults in this country just don't care about religion--ANY religion--period.

Thanks John for your candor...

Alice

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I don't think that is necessarily that teens and adults don't care at all about religion. I think that it is just that there are so many competing influences in the world today when it comes to how we choose to live our lives. We know religion is mixed in there somewhere and go back to it sometimes but the other influences make it hard to think. Often, I think teens and adults goes through things in their lives that are difficult and begin to assume that God hasn't helped them so why even try. I know I have when through this as a teen, unfortunately. It took me quite a few years to realize that leaving my faith behind had caused me to feel quite empty and alone.

I also think it is a good point made several other times in the this forum that going off to secular universities can play a big part in teens and young adults leaving the faith. From personal experience, I know how easy it was to forget your faith when many other people you were encountering did not hold your beliefs or you were criticized for your beliefs. However, I think that we can be a little hopeful because some of us, like me, realize that we need to return to our faith.

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Originally Posted by Memo Rodriguez
Hi,

While I do not consider Fr. Steven's efforts futile (and I even find some of his hypoteses quite plausible), I would be much more interested in knowing why the other 40% do return to Church.

What are they looking for that the Church does provide. Maybe if those things are strengthened, the 40% will increase a little bit, and then a bit more, and so on and so forth.

Last night I went to confession and my confessor said to me: Instead of chasing shadows, just increase the light.

I think this could apply to this situation too.

Shalom,
Memo

Memo's comment is enticing; what IS it that retains the 40%?

Generally, I think it is the influence of the domestic church, the family. Here are some influences which sway young peoples' setting deep roots in the (Eastern) churches:


[list]
[*]Family stability - divorce or separation causes great instability and it's exceptional if mother and father will attend the same parish
[*]Putting spiritual and family ties ahead of economics - forsaking taking an upscale job because there is no Eastern parish at the new location; retaining full-time motherhood and her volunteer work at the church, food pantry, etc
[*]Praying together; attending Liturgy together; parents becoming catechists
[*]Absence of malice towards clergy, other parishioners, liturgical change, other peoples's singing

Any of us could add more to the list -- The point is...do our young people see us LIVING our faith and loving our parish, the clergy, and other parishioners?

Even when all the above are done we still lose young people to the enticement and deception of the Evil One who makes the "American dream" appear so all-important.

Fr. Deacon Paul

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Oh my ... when I hear the word "modernize" I cringe at the thought. After many years in "modernized" Evangelical/Charismatic churches, the beauty of the Orthodox services and Mass, should not even be compared. There is little, if any true beauty in the "modern" worship experience. Indeed, it is just that ... an "experience" and often you will hear folks ask one another at the end ... "how was church today?" To that, the person will reply how it was for HIM ... purely egocentric. True worship is directed toward God and has nothing to do with entertainment, "modern" language, or anything else that we may falsely believe "bring in the young people."
As for my church, when we were all Chrismated prior to Easter this year, I can honestly say that at least 1/3 of the newly Chrismated were young people ... 20 somethings. They are the committed, searching, young Christians who truly desire a worshipful life which is as close to the design of our Early Church Fathers as possible.
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Dear Father,

You have touched on a number of areas that vex not only Orthodox Christians but all Christian communities. The problem is also not confined to our youth, but to all age groups. Of all the hypotheses you cited, number five is the most salient.

As a Christian of the evangelical reformed faith tradition, we like to pin our faith on the five "solas" of the Reformation:

1 Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone")
2 Sola fide ("by faith alone")
3 Sola gratia ("by grace alone")
4 Solus Christus or Solo Christo ("Christ alone" or "through Christ alone")
5 Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone")
6 External links

Yet, the fullness of each of these solas is expressed in the liturgics of the Holy Orthodox Church. For instance, I cannot think of any other Christian body that is more scriptural than the Orthodox Church. I cannot think of any Christian body that is any more Christ centered. Even icons of the theotokos show her not alone, but always holding the Christ child in her loving arms and pointing her hand to her Son, Immanuel as the savior of the world. There is so much more. It is all there liturgically and sacramentally. If there is anything lacking is our commitment to Jesus Christ. All these other issues: the language, education, stewardship, ethnicity are systemic to the primary.

I pastored a congregation once who had the idea that if we would build a large modern church in a growing neighborhood and used contemporary music as part of the worship experience we would be able to attract more people, especially the youth. It was like the Field of Dreams quote "If you Build it They Will Come!" I fully believed then, and I still believe that they may come, but they may not stay. Even if they do stay, will they grow in Christ?

If we wonder about the validity of the fifth hypothesis, then all you would have to do is to look to your own converts to Orthodoxy. Many of them had come from other Christian faith traditions leaving empty only to find the fullness of faith in the Orthodox Church. Many of them come to Orthodoxy having given their lives completely to Christ and are very knowledgeable about scripture.

Latria, is or should be the expression of the people of God's love for Him. Where love and full commitment to Jesus is lacking or vacant, then the Church is open to all kind of error. Love gives way to pride and conflict.

Like the emissaries of Price Vladimir who journeyed to Agia Sophia to witness for themselves the worship of these Orthodox Christians, we should also say with our lips that we didn't know whether we were on heaven or earth.

This is what the seekers come to find in our churches - the life transforming love Jesus Christ and the promise of salvation.

Our young people are so good. In their youth they can see a world a better place. All they need is to have are models of Christian love and living to mentor their lives.

Let us put aside all earthly cares to worship the King of All!

Amen?

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I think these youth jsut like to make excuses about the reasons they leave (language,and so forth).
The real reason is that most are lazy anddo not want to take the time to go to Church or to follow some basic moral rules. Also, I'm not suprised that many drift off to the more easy goign American protestant dneominations. These churches offer "free salvation" without any consequences. The message they preach sounds much easier to American ears then the hard process of Theosis that Orthodoxy promots.

This is America, not an Orthodox nation. Th entire culture is set up based on the secular, protestant mindset. It is very hard for people to adjust to this outlook and, at the same, time remain in a religion like Orthodoxy. The RC's have even had problems with keeping all their flock from drifting off and they are considered far closer then Orhtodox.

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Dear Friend,

I agree that there is a mixed bag of doctrine (many false) among Protestant Christianity. And yes even among those Reformed traditional congregations that come closest to the apostolic faith, there could only be a faint chance of them reaching the depth of spirituality of the Orthodox faith.

I can share with you from personal experience that in reaction to the current libertine direction a number of mainline Protestant groups are heading (American Episopalian, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, The United Church of Christ and the Christian Church Disciples of Christ) to name a few - there is currently a movement toward conservative (traditional)forms of worship and doctrine.

The Barna Group estimated that the trend is wide-spread. If reform does not find its locus within the faith and traditions of their own denominations, then the other option is to embrace Roman Catholcism or Eastern Orthodoxy. This option has resulted in such groups as the Evangelical Orthodox (Fr. Peter Gillquist) coming to the Orthodoxy (please refer to his book Coming Home, Why Protestant Clergy are Becoming Orthodox).

I suppose the reason I share all this with you is that there are Protestant pastors and laity who draw from the Orthodox but are not prepared or willing to take the plunge to become Orthodox, preferring instead to reform from within.

If you were to ask traditional Protestants about salvation the responses would be that we are justified by the atoning death of our Lord. We understand too well the terrible price that was paid for our salvation on the cross and we do not lose sight of the victory over death in the resurrection of our Lord. A hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Church when asked about being saved had responded correctly by saying, "I was saved over two thousand years ago, I am saved now, and I continue to be saved."

We (I) understand that while the sacrifice has been made for once and for all, we are called to grow in Christ daily into His likeness as we truly become partakers of His divine nature. Living sacramentally requires us to fall at the feet of Christ not only daily but during every moment and second of our existence in this world. This is not a matter of earning our way into the Kingdom because it is impossible within our frailty to do so. We are called to run the good race in humility so that we may live the abundant life that God has planned for us while we were still in our mother’s womb.

I still maintain that no matter what Christian body we speak of, we can all find ourselves falling short in our love for God if we allow all those little gods to dominate us.

Peace my friend!

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Please read Archimandrite Ephraem Lash's cogent essay on 'holy English'. It can be found on his site of masterful tanslations of our liturgical texts and also, in Sourozh, in his devasting review of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery translation of the Pentecostarion.

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