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The October 1 edition of the Wall Street Journal had an article by Gautam Naik entitled “Study: Half of Wildlife Lost in 40 Years.” It starts out by saying that “Earth lost half its wildlife in the past four decades.” This is alarming because “the decline was seen everywhere-in rivers, on land, and in the seas.” The article had a caption referring to this as “devolution” which I presume is a reference to the dying off of species resulting in the decline in biodiversity. As a Christian this is concerning in the sense that we are supposed to be stewards of this planet in which God has placed us. We are called to subdue the earth but we are to take care of it also. To the extent that we subdue the earth, we should also take care of it.

However, this article in the Wall Street Journal is not written with a biblical worldview. So, what is this even an issue for those with a secular materialist worldview? What the article is reporting as devolution appears to be a result of evolutionary processes. The fact of the decline of biodiversity is simply a result of natural selection and survival of the fittest, is it not? Is this not merely the result of weaker species that cannot adapt dying off and those that can survive or thrive continuing on? Why is devolution a problem for people with a naturalistic materialist worldview? Can someone help me out here?

You may have been following her case, but Asia Bibi is a Christian in Pakistan who has been sentenced to death for her Christian faith. You can read more about it here but her lawyers have been trying to appeal her case. It kept getting delayed but this time she was able to present her case to the high court. Her appeal was denied so now there is only the Supreme Court of Pakistan to hear her case. Without the highest court siding with her, she will be facing the death penalty for her faith in Christ. Please pray for this situation. Pray for her to stand firm. Pray for her family. Pray that God would be glorified through all of this.

There has been much made lately on youth leaving the church. I subscribe to a lot of podcasts where this has been a topic of conversation. This is not a conversation among just Calvinists or just Arminians but is a conversation that is taking place among Evangelicals of all stripes. There is apparently some kind of data, collected by someone like Barna, that supports this position. What the experts are saying is that American Evanglicals who are active in church as a youth have a tendency to leave the church once they graduate from high school, leave home, and go to college.

I am someone who was part of church youth in high school and left home to go to college and remained in the church. I experienced college as someone who was part of a local church and am still part of a local body of believers today. I now have children who are youth-aged. In fact, I am a parent of multiple teenagers. (Feel free to pray for me. I need it.) I sit watching the youth of our day praying that I don’t screw up as a parent and that my kids will have faith in Christ that will be their own and that their faith will continue to grow into adulthood and that they would be committed lifelong disciples of Christ.

What I see from so many youth today is that they are not part of the church as young people. Their parents take them to church and drop them off with the youth group. They hang out with a bunch of youth at church. They have Sunday School with their peers — which is positive since they are all experiencing the challenges of transitioning from childhood to adulthood. While at the youth group, they usually sit around on comfortable sofas because we all know that NOBODY would come if they had to sit in uncomfortable straight back chairs (gasp)! They listen to relevant music and not that boring stuff their parents listen to. And often times, they sit around and complain about how they are not respected because of their youth all the while remaining in their youth cocoon. After Sunday School, or Bible Study, they head off to the worship center for Sunday morning worship. And guess who they sit with during worship? That’s right: they sit with youth. After worship, they find their parents and ask to go eat lunch with the their friends in the youth.

On Sunday night often times the youth have their own get together for more fellowship and study — separate from adults. On Wednesday nights they are with the youth again. They may even have some other get-together on Friday or Saturday because there isn’t enough youth fellowship time already. Yes, I am being a bit sarcastic here.

So, I’ve mentioned four meetings at church: Sunday School, worship, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. How many of those times do the youth at your church integrate with the church body and how many times are they with just the youth? Your answer is probably that the youth are with just youth about 75% or 100% of the time, if your church is like most American churches. If this is the case, how can we say that’s youth are leaving the church? I don’t think we can say that. I submit to you that youth are not leaving the church. I say that they were never part of the church–at least not while they were in the youth group. What they were part of during their youth years was a para-church group called “the youth ministry” but were not really part of the local church. If your church is like this, here are some critical things that your young person is missing out on.

1. First and foremost, they are missing out on worshiping with their family — particularly their mom and dad. They need to see that mom and dad are serious about worship and that they are there to worship God; not just to take their kid to the youth group. They need to see that mom and dad take the sermon seriously by taking notes and not texting and checking Facebook during the preaching.

2. They miss out on the inter-generational nature of the body of Christ. By being with youth all the time they are hanging out with those who are facing similar problems. That is true. But why not hang out (sometimes) with people who have already experienced those problems and have come through them? Why not learn lessons from people who can encourage youth as examples of those who have been through those tumultuous years?

3. They miss out on opportunities to serve and to be the body of Christ. To be part of the church they should be plugged in. They have no right to complain about being disrespected by adults due to their age if they aren’t trying to plug in and serve. Let us not encourage our youth to be spiritual navel gazers but people who are committed to building up the body of Christ by serving!

So, why shouldn’t youth drop out of church when they go to college. They don’t know what it is like to be part of the church and how beautiful the bride of Christ really is. Don’t misunderstand me. Teenagers need teenage friends. They need to know how to build friendships and develop relationships and hold each other accountable in the Lord. However, I don’t think that their relationships should be limited to those with peers. I am praying for a change in the church youth culture and that this change would take place before all of the youth that were never in the church leave the church.

Whether you move to a new community or your church decides to shut its doors, you may find yourself looking for a new church home at some point.  When you are looking for a church, what do you consider the most important issues or reasons in selecting a particular church.  As I consider this, these are what I consider the most important issues in the selection process of a new church home.

1. Agree on primary theological issues. The first and most important characteristic needs to be that we agree on the primary theological issues. That is, they must have a biblical understanding of the gospel. This is a non-negotiable point. They must understand the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ’s work on the cross. They must agree that one’s salvation is by grace and grace alone. Salvation is a work completely of God and He doesn’t need our help. You must only repent. The church must agree with the inspiration, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture. We may not always agree on how to interpret Scripture but we must at least agree that the Bible alone is the rule for all that we do.

2. Credobaptism. Any church that I join must practice believer’s baptism. I will not join a church that does not practice baptism by immersion. Sprinkling is not baptism. Baptism is, by definition, dipping someone under water. Baptism must be reserved for believers who have demonstrated a credible evidence of regeneration and who want to join the church and become part of the community of believers. They cannot baptize infants. They must baptize only believers.

3. Ministry to all ages. I need the church to minister to all ages, at least the ages of the people in my family. Since I have youth aged children, I need it to be a place where my youth aged children can live in community with other youth. I need it to be a community of believers where adults speak truth into children’s lives and show them what it means to live as an intentional disciple of Christ. I need the church to be intentional about preparing the youth biblically for a world that is hostile to Christian ideas. I don’t need it to be about parties, concerts, and amusement parks. I need it to be intentional and gospel driven. I need to it to be a church that understands the parents’ role in the youth’s lives but will alongside the parents in discipleship.

4. Expository Preaching. I believe that a church needs a steady diet of expository preaching. It is okay to depart from it on occasion but in general, expository preaching needs to be the practice of the preacher. It helps in preaching the full counsel of God and not just focusing on the favorite texts of the pastor. It also allows the text to drive the message rather than using a Bible verse for a launching pad to say whatever they want.

5. Welcomes workers. I hope that my next church would be open to having new people serve and minister in the area of their gifting. There are areas in which we could contribute to the ministry of the church but I need the church to be open to having new people get involved. I don’t want to be a part of the church that always goes to the same people to step in and minister.

6. Missions. I would hope that the church would have a biblical understanding of missions. But, if they don’t, it needs to be a church where the pastor is leading them to give financially to support missions. It should be a significant part of the budget, prayer, and preaching.  It should be a climate conducive to the church growing in this area.

7. Love in spirit and practice. Does the church have a sense of unity in spirit? Do they love on one another? Are they welcoming to visitors?

The answer to these should be a resounding “yes!” These are really the minimum of what I think should characterize a church that I join. There are several other traits that I think are important but are not must-haves such as high expectations and accountable church membership.  However, if the church is getting a steady diet of expository preaching, these other issues will eventually fall into place.

What are your thoughts?  What do you look for in a church?

Of course I do not believe this and do not think it is true.  But, if you hold to the Darwinian Evolutionary model of common descent then this view is inescapable.  When looking at the DNA of a chimpanzee, it is much more similar to a female human than a male human.  The most radical difference in the DNA between chimps and humans are found in the Y chromosomes–which only males have.  I reject the view of common descent and therefore reject the idea that women are more similar to chimps than men.  To read more about this, check out this link.  This is just one example of a crazy conclusion that Darwinian Evolution will lead you to.

Some people claim that Christians must have blind faith in the Bible. I agree with what the Bible says but I don’t know that I would call the faith or trust that I have in its veracity is blind. I think that my faith is reasonable. Without going into a long explanation as to why it is reasonable let me just say that everything I have read and learned from the Bible has been true. Therefore, I have no reason to question the portions that I have yet to verify or validate. I would say that the Bible is the rule of faith and is the benchmark of all truth. I approach life in this way. Scripture is right and where others disagree they are in error.

Others approach truth differently. Those with a materialist or naturalistic worldview place science as their locus of truth and anything that cannot be empirically verified is regarded as false. Now, this worldview has many problems but in the world of academia this is where you must start with people understanding that most people today in America come from this perspective.

I do not believe in evolution. I am with Ronald Reagan who said it was just a theory. It is not a bad theory. In some ways it makes sense but I reject the Neo-Darwinian theory of general common descent because it flies in the face of the Bible which, as I already mentioned, is my measure of truth. However, not everyone comes from that perspective so I think that I also need to evaluate evolution as a theory from a scientific perspective as well. This is why I would like to share with you some scientific insights into evolution with you. This particular insight comes from Dr. Cornelius Hunter who has a Ph.D. in Biophysics and Computational Biology from the University of Illinois.

Dr. Hunter demonstrates how unlikely or probabilistically impossible it would be for evolution to be true based on protein-protein interactions which are fundamental to life. He describes how difficult it is to get two proteins to interact with each other not to mention the fact that the correct amino acid would have to be used to get the interaction to have a meaningful result. Here is what he says about evolution and the random chance that such a “mutation” could occur:

But evolution does not have such resources. It cannot conduct millions of evolutionary experiments in order to luckily find amino acid sequences on protein surfaces that are required for important biological functions. And even if it could, that would only be the first step, because molecular machines are often comprised of multiple proteins, interacting with each other at multiple sites. So evolution would have to luckily find several sequences, in multiple proteins, and get them to arise in similar time frames, so the molecular machine would function.

I am an engineer, not a scientist. But this scientist has skillfully pointed out how such a basic but amazing building block of life on its own makes evolution almost certainly false. We are talking probabilities here which doesn’t prove or disprove anything but it does make evolution very unlikely and makes you wonder why the scientific community so readily and blindly accepts it. To read more from Dr. Hunter read his blog here. To read more about these protein-protein interactions pick up a copy of The Edge of Evolution by Michael Behe and study chapter 7.

You may have recently read that the teaching of creationism is now banned in any school that receives government funding in Great Britain.  It is interesting that the government there has taken a very narrow view of the theories of the origin of life.  They seem to think that any idea that is not evolution is creationism.  This is a very narrow view and misrepresents evolution and creationism.  They make it sounds like evolution is the only scientific view and if you accept creationism you reject science and reason.  Cornelius Hunter has pointed out that this is just a straw man.  They misrepresent anyone who questions evolution and dismiss them as an anti-science creationists.  Creationism is not anti-science, by the way, and is distinct from another theory known as intelligent design.  This is just a way that they blackball their opponents because their view is weak and doesn’t stand up to scientific investigation.  To read more about this visit Dr. Hunter’s blog here.

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