Future for the youth in England

Discussion in 'The Commons' started by Stalwart, Aug 7, 2019.

  1. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I was going to send a DM but figured I'd raise this up to a general discussion:

    Speaking in particular to @A Garden Gnome and @Oliver Sanderson who at least in their profiles look to be young-uns amongst us in England, I wanted to raise the question for what the youth is like in the Mother Country. It is notoriously difficult for adults to penetrate into youth culture, so I figured the easiest way would be just to ask!

    We are often told, in media reports, about how atheistic the youth are, how purposeless their lives are:

    "Poll: 9 in 10 Young Britons Believe Their Lives Have No Purpose"
    https://www.breitbart.com/europe/20...-britons-believe-their-lives-have-no-purpose/


    And yet we also have a contrary narrative that the youth are rejecting the atheism of their parents, and turning to very old traditions to find meaning in life:

    "Evensong sees a surge even as British church attendance declines"
    https://religionnews.com/2017/08/30...e-even-as-british-church-attendance-declines/

    "Generation Z: 'We have more to do than drink and take drugs ..."
    https://www.theguardian.com/society...n-z-has-different-attitudes-says-a-new-report

    The student Left's culture of intolerance is creating a new generation of conservatives"
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/educati...ance-creating-new-generation-ofconservatives/


    Thoughts?
     
  2. Oliver Sanderson

    Oliver Sanderson Member

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    Thanks for the post. I can only speak from my personal experiences, but it seems that there is a complete lack of Christianity among today's youth. Even more so in the poorer areas of the country (where I would be classed as from). Drunkenness, drug taking, theft, and casual sex is expected. I'm seen, after I became a Christian, as some sort of outcast for now choosing not to partake in these. For example, I go to a college of 1500, and I could quite confidently say that I'm the only religious believer, let alone Christian. As for the young turning to the traditions of old, I see absolutely no evidence of this (again from my own experience). My local church has a regular congregation of around 50-70. However, I am the only person under the age of 40, and one of three people under the age of sixty. Even then, it couldn't be said to be 'old traditions'; there is no service using the 1662 Prayer Book or Authorised Bible (which I would prefer), but instead the NIV and Common Worship. So in that respect, I as an individual reject the atheism of my parents and have attempted to turn to ancient traditions, but as a society, not just the young, I see no evidence that this is the case.
     
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  3. A Garden Gnome

    A Garden Gnome Member

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    It's something I've been asked a few times actually by my priest. I'm never quite sure how to answer, because I'm not sure how much I represent the "average" youth in the country. Most people around my age are obsessed with party's, sex, and money while I spend most of my time around people 40+ years older than me at church, where the conversation is obviously quite different!

    There are several things I'd say however. The first is that I, personally, heavily object to those people (usually Roman Catholics) who say that the only way to entice youth is by dismissing anything developed in the last 100 years. The type that constantly bring up the "superiority" of the Latin mass, those who dismiss modern architecture, etc. This attitude gripped me until fairly recently, and perhaps will bring in the odd person, but it will never bring in the masses and usually it's the unpopular people who don't have all to much of a social life (I mean no offence) who are attracted by it. It's very dangerous because it leads people to a kind of fundamentalism if pursued, as often seen in very traditionalist Romans. This attitude is only ever seen in the western world anyway - if you look at South America, for example, the youth seem to want something fresh and dynamic.

    On the other hand, we all know that such liberalism as we see today in the CofE is incredibly damaging - it's self-evident. So the answer, I suppose, lies where it always has done, and there is just no short way around it; the gospel needs to be proclaimed, not with any kind of personal adaptation, either liberal or conservative, and people will respond. That's how I came to faith - someone from Gideon's gave me a small New Testament and Psalms, I went to church as a result, and here I am now. The specific tradition is best sorted out after the person has the basics of the faith. I dislike giving that answer because it sounds like a cop-out, but that's really what I believe. How it is to be effectively proclaimed is the problem, of course, but it's the same problem we've been having for 2000 years.

    The biggest issue nowadays then, methinks, is catechising children/young people better. At least then people would know what the faith is, and then make a conscious decision to leave, rather than just slowly falling away from an already watered down Christianity. The issue of secularism lies not precisely in an intellectual atheism (Richard Dawkins type stuff), but in the general lack of religious awareness.

    This is just how I feel atm anyway, hope it gives you something of an answer.
     
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  4. Rexlion

    Rexlion Active Member

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    That is positively chilling information. :cry: I don't mean to sound nosey, but could you at least give us a vague rough idea what part of the country you're from or where the college is at?

    How do you imagine passersby in your area would react to people handing out New Testaments or Christian literature in public, or drawing a street crowd to see and listen to a short Gospel presentation in drama form? Would people react in a friendly manner, or get angry, or what? Perhaps A Garden Gnome could comment on this also.
     
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  5. Oliver Sanderson

    Oliver Sanderson Member

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    Hull, Yorkshire.

    I think if I started to hand out Bibles or engaging with atheists in public, I would be met mostly with both mockery and anger (although a minority would be friendly). However, I think this would be the case in most parts of England, not just my own city.
     
  6. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    I'd be inclined to agree. My parish church gets together with the Methodist/URC congregation on Good Friday to do a walk of witness around the village. We're in a busy rural tourist area so there are lots of holiday makers around for the Easter holiday.

    Our walk of witness takes the form of stations where we stop for a Bible reading and sing a hymn. Whilst we don't get openly heckled, it's not unusual to overhear negative or mocking remarks from passers by.

    On the other hand, my parish church has a good relationship with the local primary school where we run an 'Open the Book' program taking Bible stories into the classroom. We gift a nice presentation Bible to those in their last year of Primary education, this year that amounted to something like 25 or 26 Bibles.
     
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  7. A Garden Gnome

    A Garden Gnome Member

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    I always imagine any kind of street preaching as being distinctly American. I suppose it's because I associate it with Billy Graham, Hellfire preachers, etc. In this country it's incredibly rare, and the few times I have seen something like that people totally ignore the person and assume he's somewhat mad. There is obviously a big difference between the US and England religiously, as the UK is incredibly secular in comparison (despite having Christianity as the state religion). Is this kind of evangelism common in America? Personally I can't envisage it working, as our culture is just not one where that kind of thing could happen successfully.

    The culture here is one of absolute religious ignorance, where most people haven't even heard the gospel. People are atheists almost by default. I can't imagine that's the case in the US. The Muslims actually have a good thing going for them. Their kids are properly brought up in the religion, so a lot grow up to actually practice the religion - they don't care if it's counter-cultural. We could learn a lot from them I think.

    I'm like the idea of just inviting people to church, especially if it's a cathedral or nice old building. Our cathedrals are actually great places to evangelise as there one of the few Christian places where people visit often. The beauty of the buildings is evangelism in and of itself imo.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
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  8. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I was partially expecting that. Do you think there's a chance that there are people just like you who are simply in hiding? I have seen that our cultures (US and UK) have this strange heavy blanket of 'acceptable behavior' which masks and suppresses the reality of people's actual beliefs. That blanket is woven by the media, public intellectuals and self-important nabobs, and they dictate what the culture deems acceptable. But the gulf between their edicts and people's underlying beliefs is so strong, that despite their edicts, Brexit unexpectedly happened, Trump unexpectedly happened, and this wave of populism and nationalism is now going all around the world.

    I don't mean to go political, and I don't know your guys politics, but whatever you may think of Brexit you will agree that it's not allowed to happened. Yet here we are.

    The youth in France remind me of this: obviously the great majority are still secular and atheistic, but an unexpected majority of the youth are joining up into Latin Mass parishes. The same phenomenon is occurring in the US among Catholics, where the ultra-trad reactionary Latin masses (the few that exist) are filled to the brim with young people. And the articles I cite above seem to prove that the same could be happening in Britain, although certainly no one will openly admit to it.

    1. Do you guys think this is feasible?
    2. What might be the steps to discover, encourage, and unite these young groups (the lads, etc), into cohesive units which will grow and self-perpetuate?
     
  9. Rexlion

    Rexlion Active Member

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    No, there is not much street preaching in the USA. Almost none. Sounds like the reactions of folks over there and over here are somewhat similar. (The Christians don't react negatively, but they're not the people one is trying to reach!)

    I have been on a couple of mission trips to Peru where we participated in this sort of activity and it was mostly well received, as well as fruitful. A group of about 7 or 8 of us would set up on a street corner or near a mercado where there were plenty of pedestrians. Armed with a PA speaker and microphone, we'd shout an invitation to gather around, then start music as we performed a skit about 2 minutes long that depicted the life, death and resurrection of Christ in a rapid, stylized way. By then a good crowd would be gathered, watching intently. Then one of us would use the mic to tell them the basic Gospel in brief, the high points of which are:
    God whom we serve created the universe, and He created you and me because He loves us.
    But people became separated from God because of sin.
    Because of sin, people are sick and hurting.
    But God had a plan to free us from sin.
    God sent His son Jesus to earth.
    Jesus went around healing everyone who asked Him.
    He told the people to repent of their sins and to believe in Him.
    Jesus did no evil, only good.
    But some people were jealous of Jesus, so they whipped Him, put a crown of thorns on His head, and nailed Him to a cross.
    We ourselves deserved to be the ones put to death because all have sinned.
    But Jesus loved us so much, He took our place. He shed His blood so we could be forgiven of our sins.
    He died for you and me, so we could have life.
    The best news is that on the 3rd day He arose from the dead and He is still alive today.

    We would ask them to trust God for this precious gift by believing in Jesus the Savior. Then we'd pray for any who were sick. We'd invite them to the large open-air crusade we were holding that night. Finally, local church members would talk to as many as they could to invite them to their churches. The evening crusade afforded us a chance to relate testimonies of lives changed and healings, give a longer and more complete message of the Gospel, and again give the invitation to accept Christ, the prayer for healing, and the follow-up.

    Not every society will be as receptive to this type of evangelism, but it's working in Central and South America, the Philippines, Thailand, South Africa, and many other countries.

    Here in the USA, I have mostly confined my activities to financial support of missionaries, leaving gospel tracts where they can be read, and witnessing one-on-one to certain individuals (when the Lord opens a door in the conversation and they seem receptive). People don't get offended when you tell them your own life experiences (everyone tells such stories, it's totally acceptable). So when I tell them about the time I hit a highway construction worker, they're all ears! (I posted this story on the forum not long ago.) Or when they ask me why I moved from Michigan to Oklahoma (about 1,000 miles), I can say, "Because God told us to," and then I'm free to explain the supernatural way that God moved in our lives so we would take a leap of faith and move away from everyone we knew without knowing what job I'd have in our new location.

    A person's personal testimony of what the Lord has done for him is that person's greatest witnessing tool.

    Distributing tracts is a 'shotgun' approach and some people (like my rector) think it's not worthwhile. But people generally do read them out of curiosity. And if only one soul out of a thousand is moved to learn more and eventually winds up following Christ, it was worth the effort and expense of the thousand tracts.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
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  10. Anglo-cracker

    Anglo-cracker Member Anglican

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    Our SBC used to have "visitation" one night a week in the surrounding neighborhoods. Thats basically going door to door. Here in the South that used to be acceptable, (my mom always kept the parlor clean in case we had a caller) but now folks are more private and don't want to be bothered. And now we are all in our own little digital worlds.
     
  11. Oliver Sanderson

    Oliver Sanderson Member

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    1. According to this poll (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2...-as-only-2-of-young-adults-identify-as-c-of-e), only 2% of 18-to-24 year-olds claim to be a member of the Church of England, so maybe not.

    2. I honestly have no hope that the country, not just young groups, will be united under the Church of England. Using the 1662 Prayer Book and 1611 Bible will see a rise I believe (simply because it is far superior to its alternatives); but Islam, which hasn't attempted to conform to modernity, will be most likely to attract the young who are disenfranchised, if/when we see a religious revival.
     
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  12. A Garden Gnome

    A Garden Gnome Member

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    Your point about brexit is interesting. The thing is, the media and parliament made it out to sound like an impossibility, but the average working class person almost knew we would vote out. The political elite are so incredibly out of touch that they could not see the obvious. I'm doubtful that the same's true of the religious situation though. If it were even slightly the case, I think the figures for church attendance would be dramatically more cheerful. I see merit in your point though, in that revolutions are still totally possible, as has been shown by by the western world's politics - The same could happen with the church.

    As much as I want to see hope in the stats and figures, I just can't when my personal experience tells me so much otherwise. I go to sixth form in quite a big school, about 1900 pupils. There's certainly no one out of the 300 in my year that are practicing Christians in the CofE or RCC (there are one of two blacks which occasionally attend Pentecostal churches I think), and I'm fairly sure there's no one in the school at all that is genuinely committed to the church, and sees it as important.

    There certainly is something happening with traditionalism and the youth, which is excellent (I mean, I'm apart of the movement!), but I think it's generally blown far out of proportion. I could be wrong, but that's just how I see it. Perhaps it's different in the states.

    As the established church, we can certainly capitalise on it to a huge extent if we really went all out for traditionalism, as we have privileges in government, universities, schools, etc as a consequence of being the state religion; I think it's key to convert the church of England back to an orthodox faith before we can really re-evangelise people in their masses.
     
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  13. Juliana

    Juliana Member Anglican

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    Perhaps it is time for another John Henry Newman.....
     
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  14. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    My point is not that there are people secretly going to church without anyone knowing. No, the visible attendance in church is likely as low as it is reported.

    My point rather is this: the attendance at church is but a secondary step, the first step being a movement in the soul of the individual. Suppressed social phenomena like Brexit all happen the same way -- they come but secondarily, first originating in that hidden initial movement of the soul, which nobody realized was there.

    So the question, really, is: do the people have that movement of the soul which could result in the recovery of our society?

    I look at the articles above and others. Why are Gen Z youngsters, after 2-3 generations of the drunken British youth culture, now increasingly saying, "We have more to do than drink and take drugs ..." I would argue that the youngest among us, seeing the detritus of postmodern society, their families in ruins, social collapse, effeminate leaders, immoral politicians, people without gender, mindless sex (sex, yes, but mindless), these post-apocalyptic children can't help but have a movement of the soul for the the firm, the manly, the eternal, the true.

    Not necessarily that they channel that into going to church, especially if the church is so effeminate as to repel any decent human being. The question is merely whether they feel this phenomenon in the first place, not whether the church can accurately capture them. I would argue (and reports seem to capture this in statistics) that you have thousands, if not millions, of these youngsters (lads, etc). Sometimes they channel this into football, as the only way they know how, but the inner need is felt by them. Tommy Robinson's fans are often a lot younger than the media realizes. These kids are unchurched because the church is so disreputable, but they would rally if it called on them in a manly way, as the Brexiteers have done in the case of politics. What do you think?
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2019
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  15. Rexlion

    Rexlion Active Member

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    Some people who either are or consider themselves Christians do not attend church because they think all churches have become derailed and full of crap. Those people won't show up in the 'church attendance' count.

    Beyond those, I do think the generation of which you speak is 'ripe unto harvest' with many who are ready to hear and eventually believe the Gospel. We all should be praying (on Sundays at a bare minimum!) that the Lord would send more laborers into the harvest. And we might also pray, "Here am I Lord; if it be Thy will, send me."

    If He be not just our Savior but truly our Lord whose instructions we stand ready to obey, then when we pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," are we willing to be the instruments of His will even if it removes us from our 'comfort zone'?

    If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land. Isaiah 1:19
     
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  16. Antony

    Antony New Member

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    As a 25 year old from Yorkshire, I recognise what the gentleman from Hull said. Before I started to take notice of Christianity, I would have said that there was mass indifference to Christianity here. Perhaps a small minority are actively hostile to Christianity. I think the general Englishman's temperamant today is one of agnosticism. If one attends a state school, one will learn almost nothing about Christianity. If one is born into an irreligious family, which is the most likely scenario, one will receive no Christian education in the home. Thus, children are wholly unaware of and have no depth of understanding of Christianity. Many won't know that England is technically a Christian country, nevermind an Anglican one. From what I've read, Christianity has been in terminal decline here since as early as 1918 and possibly even the 1880s or thereabouts. I can't see what will change this short of utter frustration with the proposition of a meaningless world that is presented by English society and culture today. Perhaps a wave of celebrities who convert to, or are publicly unashamed of their Christianity, could change this. Christianity is stronger in the black carribean and african communities.

    I would also echo the fellow from Hull in saying that there are signs of a reversion to traditionalism among the youth. How deep this goes I don't know. I only have virtual contact with it. My friends and acquaintences are almost wholly irreligious. It would not be uncommon to find somebody who knows more about Greek gods than Christianity.
     
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  17. Rexlion

    Rexlion Active Member

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    Antony, that's interesting info. Thanks for posting it.

    I see a similar decline occurring in the USA, but it started later than in England. I believe it was 1947 when the US Supreme Court handed down the Everson decision which, in complete disregard for longstanding legal precedent, declared that a "wall of separation" exists between church and state. Based on this foundation, the Court began to make a series of rulings, mostly after 1960, that chipped great chunks out of our freedom of religion (contrary to the 1st Amendment's explicit protection).

    One of the worst things: they threw God out of the public schools, declaring that teachers may not lead students in prayer to God or teach Biblical moral values. We now are on the second and third generations of children who (1) get no moral compass in school and (2) are being raised by parents who themselves got no moral compass in school.

    I taught 7th Graders for one year, about 3 years ago. It was a smaller, semi-rural school district in the so-called "Bible belt". Some of the kids were well-raised and well-behaved (for their age), but many were little hellions; hardly any of them were interested in actually making effort to learn. There was little I could do to teach them godly principles of life. Many of them had the attitude, "Why should we behave? Why should we respect you adults?" I would have loved to tell them, "Because God has commanded that you honor your father and mother, and He tells us to love Him and to love one another; this implies that you should show respect for all adults." But I could not tell them that there are moral absolutes without showing them from the Bible. So the only deterrence was the potential punishment: detention. Get that? Detention, which is to spend lunch hour in a classroom with one's fellow troublemakers and a luckless teacher, with lunch brought to them, instead of standing in line for it and eating in the cafeteria. Big deal! Only if their behavior was frequent enough or egregious enough, the detention became an all-day affair in a silent, near-empty room, facing the wall and being given school work (which they would do slap-dash in a pretense of effort). It was maddening. At times I felt more like a glorified babysitter than a teacher. It was all I could do to keep some of them from running roughshod over me and disrupting the classroom entirely... and some days they succeeded.

    So, just like in England, thanks to some very bad case law we too are seeing less and less households providing a Christian foundation in the home. And no public schools provide it, either. So it's a downward spiral (going down the drain). But (yes, there is a big But!) as this creates a larger and larger void of spiritual edification, the good news is that a certain number of people will become spiritually hungry and will seek desperately to fill that emptiness inside themselves. That is where evangelism comes in. We must be prepared (have our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel, Eph. 6:15) to take God's Truth to these seekers. As in China, where a spiritual vacuum was created by the government, a revival fire will break out. A grassroots fervency will burn brightly, and the tide will turn. We are seeing it happen in China, and we will see it happen here. We must be taking action to step into that spiritual void and show the people how to fill their inner emptiness with the Lord our Provider, the loving God who is more than enough.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  18. Shaun

    Shaun Member Anglican

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    Amen
     
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  19. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    That's a great point. After 70 years of pure (and even brutal) atheism, reports are now starting to come of the existence of millions of Christians in China. Maybe they were there this whole time, but I'm skeptical any were around during Mao's bloody reign. Almost certainly these are new converts over the last 10-15 years. Their existence cannot be found in any official documents coming out of China, and Christianity is entirely illegal. Churches and clergy are being assaulted on a weekly basis. However I am connected with a missionary who has recently returned from Hong Kong, saying that there may be as many as 100 million underground Christians in China now. If the government ever stops the persecution and legalizes the faith, overnight it will become the largest visible concentration of Christians in the world.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019 at 9:23 AM
  20. Anglo-cracker

    Anglo-cracker Member Anglican

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    I have heard similar numbers. Christ's church cannot be stopped, and persecution only makes it grow. I believe history bares that out. It won't be long (if not already) and China and Africa may be the centers of Christendom thd way Europe and America once were and the Near East and North Africa before that.
     
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