Problem 3: The Broken Body
There is yet another problem attached to church kid syndrome that is less about those who are driven out of church and more about those who remain. A common problem among church kids is the inability to acknowledge personal needs, desires, and disappointments. An acknowledgment of any of these three areas is often met with chiding (either internal or external) against being “ungrateful.” God has provided everything for us, we are told, so how can we be so ungrateful? If we “need” things we don’t have, we are not grateful for what we have been given. If we “want” things we don’t “need” we are selfish. If we are disappointed by circumstances, we are reminded that “joy and happiness aren’t the same thing.”
These messages all communicate the same thing to a church kid: that God is not as good as I would like him to be and that I should just suck it up and deal with it. He doesn’t want to hear me complain, and if I do complain, I can be double sure He isn’t going to answer my prayers now. This may all seem irrational, but it is a very real message being created in the mind of the church kid who is not allowed to express his feelings. He is forced to wear a mask, speak in Christianese, and pretend that they are as “blessed and highly favored” as everyone else seems to be.
But God “desires truth in the inward parts.” That means that he wants us to be honest with him with the positive and negative emotions. God approves of our negative emotions more than the church does. The church, in trying to “avoid the appearance of evil” has denied the appearance of imperfection, which is not evil, but human. Church has ignored reality in a plethora of ways in order to maintain a semblance of order that does not exist, and it has produced a generation of young Christians who don’t know how to be themselves before God, and whom God cannot help. His “strength is made perfect in weakness”, but when we are trained to pretend that we are not weak, there is no room for God’s strength to begin its work.
This problem has resulted in many young Christians abandoning the faith, but it has also resulted in a mass of broken Christians whose faith hangs by a thread and whose mental and emotional states are as brittle as dry grass. No wonder the church in the West is dwindling; it’s next generation is malnourished and anemic. It is cut off from God’s strength and power because believers have been trained to attempt to use their own strength and falsely call it God’s. No one is experiencing God’s power, but they all are pretending and acting like they are, half believing it on their good days and stumbling around in disrepair on their bad days. Even if these Christians don’t fall away, what will be the state of the Church when this generation takes the helm? If nothing is done to restore them, what will be their legacy, and what is more, who will want to follow Jesus if his disciples can barely stand?