By Jason Hoyt
At National Officer Training a few weeks ago, I referenced a recent Barna study that said this in regards to young people today:
"Most twenty somethings disengage from active participation in the Christian faith during their young adult years- and often beyond that. In total, six out of ten twenty somethings were involved in a church during their teen years, but have failed to translate that into active spirituality during their early adulthood. Most of them pull away from participation and engagement in the Christian faith, especially during the college years."
It is no secret that college life can be somewhat of a black hole for people of faith. There are endless distractions that prevent young people from developing there relationship with Christ. I have have been reading a new book by the President of the Barna Group, David Kinnaman, called "You Lost Me." The books seeks to understand why young Christians are leaving the church. For the sake of this blog and just to be clear, BYX in not a church. However BYX is most certainly a part of the church universal, meaning the body of Christ. My goal for this blog is simply to take a few points that Kinnaman discusses and help our brothers and followers see "Why BYX Matters" and how BYX is playing a role in young mens live for the sake of the Gospel and the glory of Christ.
Kinnaman gives a two reasons why todays generation of students have a separation of faith from their "real lives."
1) Their faith is a lifeless shadow with a long list of vague beliefs that have little meaning for how we spend our lives. He places the blame squarely on the church in their failure to impact Christianity as a comprehensive way of understanding reality and living fully in today's culture. To many young people grow up in a church where Christianity is boring, irrelevant, and outside of the real issues people face.
2) They have a shallow understanding of Christianity and the Bible and their roots of faith cannot survive the weather of real life. Most of those shallow roots are grown out of a sense of entitlement and an out of proportion self-confidence. If you already know all there is to know and the main job of the god you believe in is to make you feel good about yourself, then there is not a lot of compelling reasons to sit in the dirt at the feet of Jesus and live out your faith humbly.
Kinnaman continues to elaborate specifically on why this young generation has a shallow faith problem. It is the following points in which I submit to you that is part of the reason why Beta Upsilon Chi has seen tremendous growth in the last twenty years.
The first is the church has a discipleship problem. We have created a conveyor belt of development that industrializes the soul formation of young people. Churches have bought into believing that spiritual effectiveness is connected to the size of our institutions. In contrast, Jesus spent the majority of of his time with a small group of men. His investment was characterized by life on life mentoring and apprenticeship. Yes there is a time for large gatherings of believes, but the life transformation occurred slowly and the investment was in a few. I believe this life investment plays itself out in BYX in many fashions. Beta Upsilon Chi is a Christian fraternity. We have a steady flow of young men, mostly freshman, who are looking for a place to connect with like-minded brothers. We have structured the fraternity intentionally to develop those young men. We have a big brother little brother relationship that is intentional and direct for the purpose of life on life mentorship into the fraternity. We have cell groups that are the back bone of the fraternity. Men are placed into groups of four to six where genuine iron sharpening iron takes place. Cell groups is the avenue where life transformation can and does occur. We have chair positions where men are allowed to explore, identify, and thrive in their gifts. We have six leadership positions where men who have proven their leadership ability, commitment to the fraternity, and most importantly commitment to Christ are elected by their peers to lead the fraternity. All of it in the context of a safe environment where men can be men, grow in their gifts, and grow into the man has called them to be.
The second issue of shallow faith Kinnaman identifies is failing to provide meaningful rituals. There is no place for young people to be involved in Scripture reading, praying, leading worship, giving testimony, and decision making or leadership in the church. Beta Upsilon Chi is a Christian fraternity where all those things occur. Weekly chapter meetings have young men leading worship, brothers for the first time stepping up to give an encouraging word from Scripture or a testimony of how God is moving in their life. Chair positions and officer positions carry real heavy weighted responsibility. Beta Upsilon Chi is a Christian fraternity with clear rites of passage from a pledge to a member during initiation, to becoming a big brother, a cell group leader, a chair position, an officer, and finally an alumni of the fraternity. As a fraternity we carry secrets and traditions that are unique to the brotherhood.
The third issue of shallow faith Kinnaman identifies is expecting too little from the next generation. Beta Upsilon Chi is a Christian fraternity with clear expectations. If you want to rush the fraternity, there are expectations and a level of commitment. If you want to become a pledge, there are clear expectations for a young man to demonstrate his commitment to the purposes of the fraternity. If a young man wants to serve in any capacity, there are clear expectations for fulfilling the commitment to the fraternity and the brothers.
In summary, BYX matters in the life of young college men. BYX provides a place where men can pursue Christ and one another in a safe and fun environment. Men can learn to identify and use the gifts God has given them through many different outlets. I want to be clear in that BYX is not the answer to solving these problems Kinnaman describes, only Jesus is. BYX is only a small tool Jesus uses in the life of college men to grow and refine brothers for their future. BYX is a place where Christian young men can grow up, take responsibility, and become the man God desires them to be for their life. The opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself, to build life long relationships, to pour your time, effort, and energy into your brothers, and ultimately grow closer to Jesus through a Christian social fraternity is what captures young men into BYX.