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The silent crisis: Mormons, Muslims, and the rest of us

The waiting harvest. Photo: Coloneljohnbritt/Flickr/Creative Commons

The waiting harvest. Photo: Coloneljohnbritt/Flickr/Creative Commons

I have been to church many times, and I know one topic we don’t want to talk about. I can’t ever remember a sermon on the people who are dropping out. And they do drop out, including some people who are very close to me. The old people called it “not living for the Lord.”

People are dropping out of most religions, including Mormonism, Islam and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian churches. This is becoming the one big issue, the silent crisis among Mormons.

Some people drop out and make dramatic statements, but most claim to belong and don’t bother to practice. Passive and agnostic dropouts number in the millions, and they don’t get persecuted. In any religion, people who convert to something else stand out and can pay a high price.

A recent video recording shows teenage Muslims in Germany saying nasty things about German people.

They are offensive little brats, but in their defense, when I was in high school we said lots of dumb things, and I’m so glad no one recorded us. And immigrants typically go through a phase of resentment and rejection, as they integrate.

If you watch the video, note the girls. Muslim boys don’t have strict dress codes, but girls do. These young women have their hair cut and coloured, and they wear makeup and jewellery, and fashionable clothes.

There is no hint of a burka or head covering, and they speak native German. They are just teenagers. My guess is that none of them, boys or girls, spends much time in a mosque. They are defending the group they don’t go to.

About twenty years ago I saw a slide show about Christian work in Sweden. The speaker showed an auditorium filled with worshipers, and pointed out that most of the heads had grey hair. He said this was typical. Young people had lost interest in religion.

Before you panic, dropping out has always been part of religion. The Bible talks about it:

“These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.” (I John 2:9).

That’s clear; and nothing has changed in two thousand years. Note that Christianity is now the world’s dominant brand. The church never shrinks because of dropouts. We can’t keep what we have, we can only move forward.

And we might believe the propaganda that people belong to religions, when they clearly don’t. The generals need armies, but the soldiers are losing interest.

For those Christians who dare, the world is a very much a harvest field.

“You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.” (John 4:35)

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