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You Lost Me
by Cadet Laura Loomis

 Book Review of 'You Lost Me' by David Kinnaman


Is Christianity coming to an end? Has the current generation adopted a mindset that makes going to church irrelevant? Or is there a strategy that can be put in place that will demonstrate to them that worshipping God in fellowship with a body of believers is still as important as it has ever been?


Author David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, seeks to answer exactly those questions. He contends that the current generation, or “mosaics,” are stepping away from the church in large numbers as they become young adults. It is this proposition for which he builds his case in his book, You Lost Me, which he wrote in order to bring awareness to what he calls “the dropout problem” (15).


Teenagers, Kinnman claims, are still highly engaged in the church, but they are not growing into young adults with a strong, discipled faith in Christ. They feel disconnected, alienated, and misunderstood by the older adults that make up the congregations of a typical North American church. While easy access to media through the internet plays a part in this perspective, they also have a deep skepticism about the institutions that have shaped our society to-date, including the church.


Not every young adult walks away from the church. The ones that do walk away can be categorized into several groups, based on their current profession of faith, or lack thereof. Some of them, which Kinnaman calls “nomads,” walk away from being involved in church, but still consider themselves Christians. “Prodigals,” the author says, are those who completely abandon the faith altogether, and no longer call themselves Christians. The third group, “Exiles,” are described as those who are still believers and seekers of Christ, but they feel unsure how to balance the seemingly conflicting ideals of the church and their culture.


The dropout problem, Kinnaman writes, “is, at its core, a faith-development problem; to use religious language, it’s a disciple-making problem” (21). He argues that the current structure and mentoring in the church does not prepare future generations to be faithful Christ-followers in a culture that is so quickly changing around them.


In order to combat this trend, he suggests that the church should learn how to help the mosaics understand that wisdom is a valuable asset, even more so than just facts and figures. In an age of information overload, access to information on every subject is readily available, and having such easy access can lead to a lack of emphasis on what the information means. A lot of younger Christians know who Jesus is on paper, and they admire Him, but they do not have a relationship with Him as Lord and God in their lives.


Passing on wisdom between generations can only happen if the receiving generation believes that the giving generation has anything worthwhile to say. The gap in communication styles between generations creates a struggle between them that too often hinders the passing on of wisdom. All too many young people do not feel that older adults understand them, or care about what concerns them. Building that trust is an absolute necessity if there is to be any fruitful mentoring between them. There needs to be a change in the relationships between older adults and mosaics, if there is to be any chance at creating turning points in their lives that will make a valuable difference. Kinnaman believes that “…our programs need to be reevaluated and revamped where necessary to make intergenerational relationships a priority” (204).


There is still hope for a beneficial relationship between the generations. By making an effort to understand the new context in which the mosaics are living, it is possible to create the sense of confidence in the wisdom of older generations. This confidence just might help the mosaics to see the value in their faith. In turn, they may begin to hold on to their faith, rather than discarding it as irrelevant, and rekindle the joy in the fellowship and worship of God with believers of all generations.


Personally, I tend to agree with the author on his observations. Many churches that I have visited have a very robust youth group, and a thriving 40+ adult group, but a huge vacancy of any ages in between. I agree that is the effect of a radically different culture than that which existed even 15 years ago. Technology has taken over every aspect of life. Isolation and separation are the norm, and the condition only seems to be getting worse. It is far too easy to have a life on skype or facetime, without even leaving the house. I have seen first-hand the effects of the intergenerational communication gap.


The Jesus of the Bible seems almost obsolete to a generation that cannot fathom life without their smartphones. The personal, intimate relationship that Christ is seeking with each of us sounds too far-fetched to them. The nature of relationships in today’s generation is radically different, grounded on a pragmatic philosophy that almost negates the need for authority in their eyes. Mosaics have no idea why a relationship with someone who wants submission and loyalty is so valuable, which is why it becomes seemingly effortless for them to simply walk away from the faith that shaped their lives in their youth.


If the mosaics feel distant and mistrusting of the generation that currently populates the churches, how can we expect that they will understand the value of having an intimate relationship with a distant biblical “character” from 2000 years ago? How could Jesus possibly understand their lives, their concerns, their frustrations? From their perspective, it’s not possible for someone so removed from their situation to have any relevance to them.


Having that relationship with Christ, though, is far too important to just leave the current generation to fend for themselves. We need to learn to speak their “language,” to get to know what is important to them, and to understand what makes them tick. We must meet them where they are, and come to them on their terms, if we are to have any hope of restoring their faith.


This book has given me a new perspective on speaking to today’s youth about their faith. It has helped me to understand why there is such a large disconnect between the generations, and how to go about restoring the relationships that will change the way they view the relevance of the church. I know that I need to personally invest myself in understanding where this generation is coming from, and what they are all about. Without relevant knowledge of their culture and how they live their lives, I will have no hope of establishing the trust that is necessary for the mentoring relationship that is so desperately needed.


I believe that Christianity will endure, rather than coming to an end. I also believe that the current generation has every hope of having a restored joy in fellowshipping with a body of believers. The strategy is in building the bridges that will establish intergenerational trust. In this way, the mosaics will find value in the wisdom of the older adults in their churches, and they will be able to see that Christ, and worshipping Him with other believers, is as relevant to their lives as it has ever been.




Works Cited

Kinnaman, David. You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church ... and Rethinking Faith. Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2016.










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