Saturday, June 02, 2007

FAQ: Christian Union Leaders Falling Away?

Fifteen years ago I was learning four languages. My first language, English. French. Latin. Spanish. The reason for this was apparently my aptitude for French, leading to me studying the latter two. Today I speak only English. Why is this? It is not because I was learning too many languages but rather that I simply stopped speaking them when I was no longer taught them.

Today I barely remember any Latin. One phrase I know is: Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc. This however I learned from The West Wing. It's meaning is: After, therefore because of it. And it's a logical fallacy - to presume that because one thing follows another it is because of it. I studied Latin because I was good at French. One followed the other because of it. Doesn't always work that way.

There is a statistic that floats around at this time of year warning that vast proportions of Christian Union leaders fall away within five or ten years. The claim is spurious since the research has never been done. Indeed the only research I'm aware of was on one Christian Union and the results refute the claim very strongly. Nonetheless it's anecdotally true that some who serve in Christian Unions (as members or leaders) are not going on strongly later in life.

The temptation is to fall into the fallacy. To say it is the fault of the Christian Union. Similar claims could be made against Church Youth Groups for the gapping hole that 18 year olds disappear into on the road to University - never showing up in Church or Christian Unions. The commonality is transition from one place to the next which brings certain perils. In my own case, this disconnect was one of the factors in my conversion and yet not the cause. 'Twas God's grace that saved me not the circumstances.

As I study Hebrews I'm struck by the primary reason why someone is an apparently strong believer one day, and then not sometime later. And it seems to have little to do with the former circumstances and everything to do with the daily state of their heart. We're exported "Today, if you hear his voice do not harden your heart". The logical conclusion being that we are ultimately only ever a day away from hard-heartedness. The warnings in Hebrews are strong and conclude with Esau who though sorrowful was so hardened that he found no opportunity to repent. Warning us that past (and present) knowledge is no guarentee of the future if we become spiritually lazy. Don't rest on history. I remember a charge at the end of my year on Relay to be concerned down the line if my best story of God's work in my life was that year on Relay - I can't live off 2000-2002, I need to live daily from the food of God's word.

That I am a Christian Union Staffworker today is no safeguard on my heart. I must watch that I do not have an evil and unbelieving heart. And I need God's people. I need people who will spur me on, who will stir me to love and good deeds - who will encourage me to hold fast to the hope that I have in the blood of Jesus. That is my hope of going on. That is the only hope any of us have of going on. I need my heart in earshot of God's word about Jesus' blood, and I need my heart in earshot of God's people.

Ask, not do Christian Union leaders fall away...
Instead ask - what about my heart? And what about those around me?

Further thoughts on applying the gospel to my heart: CJ Mahaney - Discerning How to Apply
Three Myths about church dropouts