All this recent talk about millennials leaving the church isn't a theoretical issue for me. While much of our church growth is through the millennial generation, we still see some walk away. This, of course, is not simply a generational issue but a faith issue. I am preparing to write a letter to a young man who has walked away from Christ and his church. As I have been thinking of this young man, his privilege, knowledge, and his current danger, I cam upon a piece written by John Angell James. His words of warning to the young who wander from the faith are hard and helpful. James points out that such a renunciation of Christ not only hurts the individual, but those around him as well.
You may break the hearts of your parents; make your brothers and sisters ashamed to own you; be a nuisance and pest to society; a bane to your country; the corrupter of youthful morals; the seducer of female virtue; the consumer of the property of your friends; and to reach the climax of your mischief, you may be the Apollyon of the circle of immortal souls in which you move, sending some to perdition before you reach it yourself and causing others to follow you to the bottomless pit, where you will never escape the sight of their torments nor the sound of their [curses]. How great the power, how malignant the virulence of sin that can spread its influence so widely and exert its force with such deadly effect, not only destroying the sinner himself, but involving others in his ruin! No man goes alone to perdition. No one perishes alone in his iniquity, a consideration that every transgressor should regard. He sustains the character not only of a suicide, but also of a murderer, and the worst of all murderers, for he is the murderer of souls. What a critical position you now occupy, between the capability of rising to so much excellence or sinking to ruin so deep and misery so intense! Reflect. Oh, that you were wise; that you understood this; that you would consider your end!
- John Angell James, Addresses to Young Men: A Friend and Guide