Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away And How You Can Lead Them Home, by Alex McFarland & Jason Jimenez
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Tyndale Blog Tours. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
In reviewing this book I find it necessary to first admit that as I was born in 1981, I am part of the intended subject matter of the book. I read books from time to time that deal with growing the church or appealing to the young , and many of them are very familiar. The reasons why many of my peers are not in the church are not surprising–many parents have not modeled Christianity very well, many churches are not very welcoming, many people grow up without a lot of biblical knowledge, and many people are extremely sensitive to hypocrisy and highly motivated to engage in social justice, and this book manages to hit the high points. Little in this book ought to be a surprise to those millennials like myself who read the book, those who are involved in churches seeking to appeal to millennials by giving them mentoring and leadership opportunities, or those parents who deal with children who have abandoned a faith they only saw partially and deeply imperfectly lived. And although this book is not surprising, it is very well done, and manages to be both compassionate to the young and also strong on areas of biblical doctrine, including those issues of personal morality where millennials often fall deeply short themselves. The authors are honest, and deserve a great deal of credit for their candor.
The authors organize this book well and manage to take a bit more than 200 pages to cover the material in a fashion that read extremely easily even if I was a bit concerned about the approach the authors would take before reading it. After introducing the way that the Millennial Generation has tended to move from Christianity to atheism, the authors divide the book into four parts. The first part contains four chapters looking at what went wrong, offering hope to hurting parents, explaining why millennials are leaving the faith, looking at what lies behind abandoned faith, and how the church is failing millennials. After this the authors spend three chapters looking at the forces shaping people in my generation, such as struggles, drives, and hopes. The third part of the book looks at steps to mend and move forward, such as strengthening relationships in difficult times, bridging the generation gap, and helping millennials build resilience to bounce back from life’s difficulties. The fourth and final section looks at the power of a prayer map and building a foundation of biblical truth, before the author concludes with a discussion on how Jesus is the key and what to do (and what not to do) when there is a failure to launch on the part of young people.
Ultimately, this is a book that delivers a lot of tough love to whomever is reading this. The authors give tough love to parents, reminding them that it was their responsibility to model godly behavior and that being harsh with adult children or lacking compassion is going to harm relationships for a long time, and that many parents did a poor job of living up to godly ideals. The authors give tough love to churches which are often too complacent and old-fashioned and have too little an interest in communities and biblical issues of justice that young people are often particularly interested in. The authors even give tough love to the young people themselves reminding them that the Bible is our moral standard, not the standards of our times, and that those who wish to be moral authorities have to stand on the foundation of biblical truth not only in convenient social causes but in the more thorny and difficult aspects of personal morality and taking responsibility for our lives. Overall, even if this book did not say anything that was particularly surprising, the authors stood their ground and spoke truth to everyone involved, in the hopes that everyone can resolve to do better and repent and turn to God for revival and restoration. Whether or not that will happen, I do not know, but the book is certainly an excellent and worthwhile effort.
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