Maybe what one needs to realise about youth and the rebellion towards the church is that it's generally not about a rebellion towards God, but against the status quo. The very idea of "church-going" to make one a Christian doesn't make sense. Christ died - yes, for the church - but in that very strain of idea, I am the church. And yes, whilst we are not to forget the assembling of the saints, the non-attendance of one at church on occasion should not be the be-all-end-all of one's spiritual life.
Yes, I admit I skipped a church service. On the occasion that I was tired, and I have already been to a service the night before. The assembling of the saints does not state that one must go to every service available on a given weekend, or if the service should be one that one often (or regularly) goes to, or if it must be a full church service, or a youth one.
To dig deeper into the truth, since I am setting out to be truthful to you by admitting my faults, I did not go to church, not only because I was tired physically, but because, to put it plainly, I am tired of the church. Rather - I am tired of the stress of placing me in the church. There is the need to dress up (to give the idea of one putting on the best for God), the need to mask up (to seem more spiritually there, or more together than I really am) and the need to answer myriads of questions on how I am (I'm fine, how are you, how is work, work is shit, but I can't tell you that)!
I was doing back-up vocals in the youth service last night, and I think I shall not do it again. There is nothing wrong with the youth or the youth service whatever, except that it just doesn't work to put old fogeys up on stage as the "seniors" coming to serve the youth when we have no relevance to them at all. The songs chosen, some new, mostly old, were songs that had some impact in my "era" of the youth - a time 5 years (and more) in the distance, and by the look on most of their faces (most, because one or two of the older ones seemed to get it), they were more bored, standing in the front of the hall by rote to listen and try to sing along to unfamiliar songs, rather than by any youthful exuberance or desire to get up and praise God. I feel personally that if no one has the desire to stand up in the front and jump, there is no need to ask them to do it, half-heartedly as it were, or by habit, because then it would have no meaning. It degenerates merely into a music concert, a spectator show. And thinking all of this on the stage while singing, with or without my hands lifted, I can see the irony of it all.
The aura that exudes is often a fake one, the lifting of hands by instinct or habit, and the mind is engaged in analysing the worshipfullness or not of the church and/or the youth-going crowd. And wondering behind it all: what is this worth? What is the worth of this "worship" and good music, and bringing in bands and concerts and speakers, when at the end of it, there is no passion or no drive to really see the Kingdom of God? Maybe it's the dryness of my soul, or the hardness of my heart, but I see no point. There is no point pushing and striving when what is not there is not there. Give it up and try something different. If they don't want to sing, maybe that is not their reasonable worship! Give them other ways, and see where that brings the group as a whole. At least they are genuine in their "boredom", though it worries the adults so much. I would rather not touch the youth as a whole, because every time I do, a certain idea of disdain and judging comes into the picture, because I compare between the things we did and what they do now, and find it not at all satisfactory. And maybe it should be that way (that I should distance myself from this) because it is hardly healthy for me or for them to have someone telling them what they should and should not do, in such judgemental tones. Let them rather work with people who understand where they are at and work with them to bring them up to different standards than those I think I am used to!
And on the other more painful matter of my facade, let it be known clearly that I am, frankly, tired and depressed. I try to avoid the Vale of Tempe road for the sole reason that every time I pass a certain bend, I wonder, what if I just drove straight off instead of turning with the road? I do not play about with knives and scissors for the reason that it sometimes pops into mind, what if I started deliberately cutting?
And no, this is not cause for worry, because I am too sensible and rational to ever attempt such things. Besides, the very fact that I can state this clearly and openly should drive from your minds the idea that I would do it. The curse of the writer is that to write is bare all, and the writing down of such thoughts is cathartic and clears the mind and heart for better thoughts and feelings to enter - at the cost of making others worry unnecessarily, and by the very fact that they often respond negatively and worry at it like a dog worrying at a bone, this often compounds the problem by driving the idea back firmly into the writer's head!
And back to the church. The church! The church that is supposed to build each one up in love, but often passes judgement as to their skills and abilities. It shouldn't hurt, but it does, that a certain pastor should come up to me and ask if I would be unnecessarily stressed to lead worship on Easter Sunday, and if it would be better to ask another pastor to do the said job, or would it be alright for me? So she casts doubt on my ability, or my anointing (if I have such a thing), and since she has done that, I would rather save her the worry (and myself too) by letting the said other pastor take over. Need I grab on to the job as if to save face, and prove myself? But as I said, it still hurts, because you've shown your doubts about me, and being who I am, it does in some ways shatter my self-confidence, in the same way that it is shaken whenever I am requested to change my songs.
But what really matters in the end, is not whether I go to church or not, whether I am a good example or not, or whether I am on people's prayer list as a possible danger(!), but the fact that He loves me the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. What I do may make Him sad, or disappointed as it makes me sad and disgusted at myself, but there is always that constant love and hope, because of His unfailing love, and because even in the dark Saturday of my mind, tomorrow is Sunday, and He will rise, is rising, has risen.
The church? The church as a whole needs a face lift. And maybe I really shouldn't stay where I am not wanted. But will it be different anywhere else?