February 11, 2011

I Have No Wounds To Nurse

So my experience with the Nursing students was good. They had a lot of questions, everything from the difference between brands of Christians to the style of clothes they could expect to see clergy in. We talked about abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, prayer, healing and a number of other things. In the end we talked for solid 2.5 hours. In my best moments I felt a little like a professor.

In the end I left the room with two general reflections. First they were generally inquisitive about Christianity, our belief system, and Jesus. A number of the questions I fielded had very little obviously to do with health or nursing. Some questions really seemed to be coming from them as students doing a project whereas others seemed to be questions that they wanted to know personally. This is what I would call positive, this group of young adults were generally interested in learning about Christianity.

This experience has provided me some qualitative evidence to back what I have been reading in books aimed at reaching young adults. Given the right circumstances young adults are very willing to engage in spiritual conversations. This is good news.

But I also left seeing a big problem. A lot of the questions I answered could be considered basic knowledge questions. Now I am not talking about something a person needs to go to Sunday school half their life to know, I mean really basic, like that Christians claim that Jesus healed the sick.

Jesus Healing the Sick Should Not Have Been News
Again from this conversation and a few others of late it seem Christianity is about a mile wide and an inch deep. Almost everyone knows we're out there, they might even know of the nearest church (not by name though) but unless they grew up in the church that's all they know.

Instead of being salt in the world, we have become oil on the water. We're there, we're present, we're making ourselves known but we are almost entirely on the surface. We have not penetrated the culture, we merely are bobbing along with it. 

This is disappointing to say the least. 

When we pair this idea with the fact that various statistics keep reporting that the lifestyles of non-Christians and Christians are more or less the same we come face to face with a big problem. We have allowed ourselves to become irrelevant. Reporting that one is or is not a Christian is having almost no describable effect on people. And the poor understand of Christianity allows people to make ridiculous claims like 'Jesus never existed' and get taken seriously by the general public. 

We have raised a generation that thinks they know the story of Christianity, and they think Christianity has been tried, and found wanting. They are wrong on both accounts, but the amount of effort it will take to convince them otherwise is greater than we have by on large exerted on at home missions in some time. 

Tuesday afternoon was both a great time and an illuminating time. It showed me there are people out there right now ready to listen, if only we can figure out how to talk to them.