Eighty percent of the youth in our churches go to college, or leave home, and drop out of the church within their first year. Why? Because we, the church, created an “aquarium” environment during their growing up years–sanitized places, free from risks and danger. He pointed out that the movie, “Finding Nemo,” captures this beautifully.
Hirsch explained that we in the American culture, especially the middle and upper classes, have almost a fixation on safety and security, comfort and convenience, which is different from those living in most other cultures. The church reflects this, which is ironic given the fact that most transformative experiences in the Bible occurred in those moments of instability, danger, and risk. After all, God created out of chaos.
So, rather than disciple within an aquarium environment, how might we in the church foster discipleship, especially of our young people, out on the edges, out where the real action tends to be? Perhaps one reason young people gravitate to short-term mission trips, which take them “outside the aquarium,” is because they innately long for such experiences. Isn’t that what Jesus constantly did with his disciples? He took them out of their comfortable, familiar positions–fishing, tax collecting, etc.–to those places on the edges–sending them two-by-two without their gear, traveling among Samaritans, occasionally even breaking the rules of the day. Why? Because he knew disciples are more likely made outside the “aquarium” than within it.
Think about it! — Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development