(further commentary on Jen Hatmaker's new book, For the Love)
I have been blessed beyond expectations for the last several months to be a part of the launch team for Jen Hatmaker's new book, For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards (available now on Amazon).
For the next few weeks, I'll be taking chapters of the book that meant a lot to me and discussing them. Please, chime in.
Not followers of me. Or a political party. Or a church. Or a code of behavior.
It makes a huge difference.
Seventy-five percent of our younger generation is leaving the church, and the worst part? Some people seem almost glad about it. Their us-them outlook on following God allows many folks to say good-bye to the backside of anyone who criticizes the church with self-assured conviction that theirs is the high ground of defending the faith. (See her chapter “Dear Christians, Please Stop Being Crappy.” Just the title . . . yep.)
But isn't it about time we stopped wringing our hands over how unhappy being criticized makes us feel and started being more unhappy about losing an entire generation for the kingdom of God? Isn't it time we stopped building our own little kingdoms and looked around at the havoc defending those personal fiefdoms is truly causing? Do I want to stand up for His kingdom or mine? The former may not look like what I think it looks like. It may not even look like what I want it to look like. But it will be His.
Jen mentions a great first step.
“First, pay attention to the grievances. This is no time to defend our perspectives and dig in our heels. We have to raise the kids we have, not the kids we were. Young adults are abandoning church, so we can either listen carefully or watch their backs as they go. We cannot be more committed to our methods than our message. Do we want to raise disciples? Then pay equal attention to what isn’t working as much as what is.”
She pounds out a message you'll hear continually on this blog. A message central to the book I'm working on.
Just. Shut. Up. And listen.
And realize that we have churned out a generation who knows what movies are OK, what books will send them straight to the devil, what clothes are not God-approved, and what groups of people are untouchable.
But they have no clue why any of this matters.
They know Jesus loves them and wants them to be good. But they do not know Jesus. They don't know what the width of their shoulder straps has to do with the gospel. They see this kind of gospel as lacking anything of substance for meaningful life.
And they are right. I can't say how much I love her take on this:
“Are we arrogant and judgmental? Do we subtly (or overtly) teach our children to suspect anyone 'other'? Do we put mainly defensive spiritual tools in our kids’ hands, fostering an 'against them' rather than 'for them' posture? Do we emphasize behavior over character? Because good behavior won't guarantee anything. If they don’t love Jesus and people, it matters zero if they remain virgins and don’t say the F-word. We must shepherd their hearts, not just their hemlines.”
Shepherd their hearts. To do that, we need to know their hearts. We need to hear them. We need to just stop talking long enough to listen to the heartbeat that informs their life and gives them passion. Then shepherd them into using that passion for the Kingdom. But it can't be done if we care more about setting them straight than showing them Jesus.
I so want to hear the heartbeat of the next generation. I want to see them unleashed to do what God has put into their hearts to do. I do not want to hold them back, even as I do want to make sure they are equipped with all the truth they need to pass on in their turn.
This book has great insight into how we do that.
If you want more information on our own writing project on this theme, visit here.
To order Jen's fantastic book, available today--click here. You will not be sorry.
Are you interested in a book club discussion of her book? Comment below!