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keep-calm-it-s-happy-fridayI was reading an excellent blog post the other day about the trend for young Evangelicals to end up in High Church circles or even to go toward Roman Catholicism. Unlike the author of the piece, I cannot feel any great sense of there being something wrong about the latter.  What he has to say appertains to the comments I made the other day about the way in which in my experience, the young folk who confess the faith are very serious indeed about it, because, in this society, it is a precondition of being a Christian; no one takes it up lightly.

It is a mark of the lack of sense of so many evangelical strategies. The idea that what will attract young people to church is what they get in secular society – rock music, and ‘cool stuff’ – is a middle-aged person’s idea of what young people would like, because it was what they liked. But things are so different now than even thirty years ago.

Young Christians know they are in this world, but not of it, and if offered the religious equivalent of Chinese food – lots of it but not very filling – they will drop away. They are looking for something with real nourishment, something which will really sustain them on their long journey.  I think that among Jessica’s readers, as with Jess herself, I see this attraction into a form of worship which emphasises the sacred, the special, the community, the need for transcendence; older, sacramental forms of our Faith are well-placed to sustain that need, and when someone told me the other day that his son had become Orthodox, I can’t say I was surprised; the lad always had a sensitivity to high art and music which will have helped him to find his spiritual home in this ancient, and to the English, somewhat exotic, form of our Faith; and how marvellous that he has been able to do so.

What Orthodoxy offers is something which has always appealed to the young – it offers a certainty, it offers the challenge of self-sacrifice, and it is not easy or commonplace.  On the occasions I have been into Russian Orthodox Churches I have felt two pulls – one a pull away because of its foreigness – the other a pull towards because of the reverence for Christ and the solemnity of the environment and the sincerity of the worshippers.  A three hour service is a commitment indeed, and even my lot would be hard pushed to match that.

It must be hard for the ‘Farver Phils’ of this world to see that what their youthful selves took for a sea-change was simply a fashion of the times.  Of course they’ll always been able to point out how ‘popular’ their theology-lite version of our Faith is with those who are lukewarm, and they will for ever have the world on their side. But that is not where young Christians are going.

But, as the Christian Pundit points out, among those young Evangelicals who are properly schooled in the Faith, and it their own traditions, and of whom there is demanded the sacrifice all Christians must give, there is no backsliding or need to go elsewhere.  Here, as in the older churches, what matters is proper catechesis, and with that in place, the young can find their way to where the Lord calls them.