Title: Already Gone
Author: Ken Ham and Britt Beemer
Publisher: Master Books
Publishing Year: 2009
My Rating: 4 out of 5 (1 meaning I hated the book, 5 meaning I loved the book)
It’s been no secret that many teenagers leave the church completely shortly after entering into college. However, the shocking news is these teenagers have already left the faith long before they may have left the church. Its not colleges that our encouraging our teens to leave the church, it may be the church itself. Thus the premise of Already Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer…
Already Gone seeks to analyze the results of a survey conducted by Answers in Genesis and conducted by Britt Beemer his America’s Research Group. The survey questioned 1,000 former, regular, conservative church-goers between the ages of 20-29. More than just complaining about the fact that we are losing many of our young people, this survey sought to find out why.
It is certainly an interesting concept every pastor, youth worker and teacher ought to find intriguing. Here’s just one of the interesting and alarming statistics:
95% of those surveyed who have left the church were regularly attending while in elementary school. Only 55% of them were still regularly attending while in high school. Obviously there is a big drop off there. People are not waiting for college to drop out of church. In fact, of those surveyed who now doubt the reliability and relevance of God’s Word first began doubting in Middle School. Only 10% of those surveyed experienced their first doubts in college.
So why are these young people leaving? The top answers that were given where: Boring services, legalism and hypocrisy in the church.
Just reading the results of this survey justifies the money you just spent on the book. Its more than just interesting, it is informative and a slap in the face of evangelical Christianity. It is a wake-up call to re-examine just how we “do church.” Ham urges pastors, youth workers and teachers to evaluate their ministries and methods in light of God’s Word rather than just being “traditional.”
“Are we doing church ‘by the book’? Just because we want to be ‘conservative’ or ‘traditional’ doesn’t mean we are ‘biblical.’ Its safe to conclude that if one of the original Apostles visited one of our churches today, he wouldn’t have any sort of clue that he was in a Christian gathering… ‘Church’ today is mostly driven by man-made traditions and not by the biblical mandates to defend the Word of God and live by the Word of God.”
As great as this book is, it is not perfect. While Ham and Beemer do a great job at exposing the problem and highlighting some of the causes, I think their own ministry clouds them from thinking about the bigger issue. As you would expect, Ham comes to the conclusion that people begin doubting the Word and leaving the church because we are not teaching them how to defend 6-day, young earth creationism.
For the record, I hold to 6-day, young earth creationism. It is an important doctrine that churches do need to preach and equip their congregations to defend. I believe this doctrine is a key fact in unraveling God’s redemptive history as unfolding through the entirety of the Bible. In other words, the Gospel is at stake. But, Ham stops at creation. The gospel is rarely mentioned in the pages of Already Gone. That’s a problem for me.
I think many middle and high school students doubt the Bible and church in general because they are given self-esteem pep-talks instead of Bible doctrine. They are told to check their brains at the door and focus on their emotional needs. They are not being feed. The feel-good religion of many youth groups and churches just doesn’t hold up in a fallen world filled with pain, sorrow and death. They need real doctrine – they need the gospel! They need more than a four-point walk down the Romans Road. They need a full fledged-gospel that imparts live-saving truths to be applied to their entire spiritual walk. They need to be pointed toward a holy, glorious sovereign God who rules and reigns in the midst of sin. Instead, they are told Bible stories that are comparable to Aesop’s fables (at least in their presentation).
The gospel must be defended, not just creation. I whole-heartedly agree with Dr. Ham in that Genesis lays the foundation for a right understanding of the gospel. In Genesis 1-3 you have the establishment of sovereignty, sin and redemption. It’s all their. A Biblical understanding of Genesis is crucial in understanding the rest of what God has to say – its non-negotiable. Teens must also learn how to defend this literal approach from scoffers both secular and Christian. However, as I stated previously, Ham needs to take that next step. He doesn’t here in this book.
Yet, the book is still a valuable resource. It is a tool in your hand to help your ministry address this problem. As a teacher, I tuck this information away everyday as I teach young people. We are losing them before they ever walk out of high school. That should cause every one of us to seriously examine our approach to youth ministry. Buy this book and use it!
Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.