Why Should You Care About Katy Perry’s Approach to Religion?

The cover article of this week’s edition of Entertainment Weekly looks at the life of pop superstar Katy Perry. One comment in the article stood out to me as the singer discussed her relationship with God:

“My upbringing was so strict and sheltered and rigid, and now it’s a lot more loose. I believe in God [but] not as an older guy with a long beard sitting on a shiny throne, or heaven or hell as a destination. I believe you can have your own hell on earth from the actions you do. If you don’t have that accountability, then why don’t you just do everything selfishly or be a menace to society? I have a lot of spiritual, New Agey stuff that I’ve applied to my life now” (EW, 11/8/13 issue, p. 30).

Before you dismiss what she says, consider that both of Perry’s parents are in ministry and that she grew up in church. And, Perry is not alone in her beliefs. Many young adults who grow up in church wrestle with the same things Perry expressed above and has voiced in previous interviews: Some kind of moral compass or accountability seems wise, but the exclusive “Christianity-is-the-only-way” version of religion seems intolerant.

The Katy Perrys in Your Church

On any given Sunday, thousands of young people wrestle with whether or not they truly believe this whole Christianity thing. I am talking about all of those kids who have grown up in church, who were probably in the church nursery the week after they were born. It is what they grew up hearing, it is what their pastor and youth pastor believe, it is what their parents believe, but do they really believe it?

I pray for all the young women that I teach to have that specific question roaming around in their heads and to wrestle with their faith before they leave the youth group. I want their faith to be authentic and built upon a firm foundation so that when tough questions or situations come, their faith will not be shaken. I want them to have confidence in how to search the Bible for answers. I want them to come and ask me their tough questions so that when they get to college or out in the workplace and someone asks them why they believe in Christianity, their response isn’t, “It’s just how I grew up.”

In the book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church…And Rethinking Faith, David Kinnaman looks at why so many youth disconnect from church. Among the significant themes that emerged were that many young adults wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity and that the church appears to be unfriendly to those who doubt. Fifty percent of those surveyed for the book said they did not feel like they could ask their most pressing life questions in church (190). If not the church, then where?!

The Exclusivity of Christianity

Because our youth have grown up in a culture that idolizes tolerance and acceptance, it is no wonder that the exclusive nature of Christianity is a stumbling block for many. However, John 14:6 is clear that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. There are not many paths to God. Consider two very specific attacks on the exclusive nature of the Gospel message that are present in contemporary American culture:

  • Pluralism is the idea that all religions are equally valid paths to God. Since tolerance is so valued in our postmodern culture, pluralism lets people off the hook. You believe what you want to believe, and I will believe what I want to believe. Pluralistic tendencies are a great hindrance to evangelism—if there are many paths to God, then why share about Christ?
  • Syncretism is the idea that you combine or merge aspects of different religions into a new belief system. Many young adults like Katy Perry today approach religion or spirituality as some kind of cosmic salad bar with the ingredients of each religious worldview as options for the meal: a little bit of this and a little bit of that—religion your way. You don’t like hell? Leave it for someone else’s plate. You love forgiveness and turning the other cheek? Pile it on. However, you become your own god when you design “the salad” instead of God.

The Importance of Communicating the Truth

Knowing that there is an onslaught of error and lies bombarding our young people every day, it becomes ever more important to clearly proclaim and teach the truth. Churches need to equip members not entertain them. If your students who have grown up in church know more about how to play underground church or “Gun, Man, Gorilla” than they do about Christ or how to answer objections to Christianity, then you have a problem.

In fact, churches that communicate the truth are actually being more successful in reaching the younger unchurched. In his 2009 book Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them, Ed Stezer found that churches that were making a significant impact reaching young people are those that are delivering depth and content in their teachings and cultivating an environment where members feel safe asking tough questions or voicing doubts.

The Importance of How You Communicate the Truth

When you come across a Katy Perry in your church who is expressing doubts or wrestling with her faith, it is important how you communicate the truth. You can say the right thing in the wrong way. Unfortunately, I know from firsthand experience. There have been times when I loved winning arguments about my faith more than I loved the people with whom I was arguing. First Peter 3:15 is a great reminder about how we share truth, and in this verse Peter says we are always to be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us to give a reason for the hope that we have, but we must do so with gentleness and respect.

So back to the opening question in the title, why should you care about Katy Perry’s approach to religion? You should care because she represents the approach many young people in our churches are taking to Christianity. And, if I can borrow the slogan from our College here at Southwestern, we must equip our students to know truth, share truth, and defend truth, especially since they live in a world that doesn’t realize that Jesus is the Truth.

 Photo Credit

0 thoughts on “Why Should You Care About Katy Perry’s Approach to Religion?”

  1. Candi, great words at a very important time. As a therapist, dad and sunday school teacher I appreciate all you have written and am so impressed with what God is doing in and through your life. I very well remember you as a young high school student in Tampa. Love and miss you, Donnie

    1. Candi Finch says:

      Don, Thanks so much for the encouragement!

  2. Pam Sinclair says:

    Great article. Thank you, Candi.

  3. John Davis says:

    It seems like many today focus on the symptoms of a greater problem. Today we are plagued with churches who are full of hypocrisy that gives the younger generation nothing solid to hold on to. I don”t believe Katy dove into this position that she currently accepts as relative. Neither do I believe the majority of church members just accepted immoral lifestyles. I think they were led to this point for a reason. The heart of the problem is organized evil, and a church who is disoriented as they are trying to identify an enemy that we are aiding and abetting.

    1John 4:1   Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

    James 1: 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

    1. Kim Ericson says:

      When I read these type of articles, I am grateful there are those out there who try to reach our youth. I believe however, there is one missing element in all these articles. We as humans, are looking to blame or try to evaluate the why. The why is we are sinners. This generation is no different than any other generation that has come before them. All through history man has been in rebellion against God. I believe as followers of Christ, our mission is to share the Truth, to pray for hearts to be open and to trust that God is sovereign and will use today”s issue to reach out and speak to the soul that is searching for answers.

      1. Candi Finch says:

        Great point. Thanks Kim!

  4. Amanda says:

    As a 25 year old woman, who grew up off and on in church after my father died, I have to say that this sums up how I have felt for years. My church family didn”t seem to accept it or I didn”t feel like it was something I could talk about with just anyone when I had doubts and questions. I”m struggling in my faith, but I know I will find the right church family soon. I wanted to say from someone my ages point of view, this is almost POINT on with how I”ve felt. Thank you for saying something, so those who don”t understand their children or bible class students or youth group, can have some idea of why younger people are questioning and how they can help them instead of blowing them off like I was done. I hope this helps others step back and realize what is going on and how to talk about it/address it. God bless.

    Thank you,

    1. Candi Finch says:

      Thank you so much for commenting! I know you don”t know me, but if you ever want to talk about the doubts you are having or just want to have someone you can ask questions while you are looking for a church family, please feel free to email me any time! My email is cfinch@swbts.edu. I have just said a prayer for you that you would find a church home soon that proclaims the truth and also allows you to ask your questions/voice the doubts you are having.

    2. Dani says:

      Amanda, I”ve been where you are and I”m sorry you were treated that way. I grew up in a church with good intentions, but they were kind of legalistic. It wasn”t well received when I questioned how much of what we did was actually biblical and how much was just because our denomination said so. My dad died suddenly when I was 19 and still struggling with all of that and it sent me into a tailspin. Thankfully I found a church willing to help me explore the tough questions about why bad things happen and whether or not I could really trust God. My faith took root and became my own. I came to realize that because we don”t live in a perfect world there are no perfect churches. I”m praying you find a place to call home and people who will be as close as family soon. It makes all the difference when you have a safe place to ask questions! If you”re interested, the church I attend now has an “online campus” where you can watch messages and interact with others watching the same video each Sunday morning as well as an archive of past series. The website is http://www.crossroadscn.com. I have found online teaching to be a good interim approach when searching for a new church family. Blessings!

  5. Helen Wallace says:

    What a beautifully written piece on something we all need to address. Personal relationships are not inherited from parents. We need to have open, two way communication in our homes and in church. Parents need to develop the skills to deal with their children”s doubt. I remember telling my daughter in the heat of the moment,”You”ll go to church as long as you live in my house! You will do as our family has always done!” Way to go mom! I probably did the single worse thing I could have done. I thank God for His patience and forgiveness and I pray each day all the answers will be satisfactorily given to my daughter and she will have a life changing relationship with Christ .

  6. Justin says:

    I think the bit on pluralism is a bit misguided on why we are accepting of so many beliefs. It would seem to me that the acceptance and equality of different beliefs is not that the are all “equal and valid paths to god,” but more that they are matters of faith, and faith alone. Those who believe anything other than Christianity are equally valid in their right to believe simply because these matters cannot be proven by hard physical evidence or scientific methods.

    1. Aaron says:

      If you”re suggesting that, without the proof by hard physical evidence or scientific methods, we are free to believe anything we want, I think you”re being too narrow. Very little falls into the category of “proof” with exception to pure math and logical axioms. Even the idea of scientific method is so broad that the way we define science can be misleading. For instance, if we talk to biologist and then a physicist, we”re going to see two distinct methods and executions of the scientific method. All that to say, I personally don”t believe that we can practically rely on science alone to tell us about reality. If that were the case, things like morality, beauty, art, literature, and aesthetics would by illusory.
      I don”t have hard proof or scientific evidence that external world exists, but that doesn”t allow me to believe anything I want about it. Science is a great tool, and so is a hammer, but not everything is a nail.

    2. Monét says:

      Finally a comment that proves that someone understands where I was as a child and still am as an adult.

  7. Jerome Danner says:

    Dr. Finch,
    Thank you for writing this article. It is much needed to be thought about b/c these celebrities have more of a draw to youth than the youth pastor at their church. That is why I read the lyrics to a rapper named “Macklemore” and his song, “Same Love,” to my parents so they can know what is going on in preparation for my siblings” teen years.

    God bless you for this insightful piece!

    1. Candi Finch says:

      Jerome, thanks for your comments! In one of my classes, I brought up that song by Macklemore because it is definitely teaching an unbiblical view about homosexuality, and I am afraid that songs like that and popular shows like Glee or Modern Family or The Fosters can impact our thoughts about such subjects more than the Bible. I think it is important for us to be aware about cultural messages but also very discerning. I think it is hard sometimes for people to be aware of false views presented in cultural messages because we aren”t aware of what the Bible really teaches.

  8. Jeff says:

    Candi, thanks for this excellent piece. I think you”ve highlighted a very important phenomenon in our culture and in the church, and we would do well to heed your advice for teaching the truth in love. I especially liked how you broke down the two-pronged attack on the exclusive nature of the Gospel message. Your description of syncretism got me thinking about how at the root of all of our sin is a corrupt desire to become our own gods. I think you touched on a very important point in what you said, so I”ve taken some time to write about it on my blog:
    Let me know what you think.

  9. Ephraim KS says:

    Candi, your words are spot on. I wish all the churches realize the gravity of this problem. The sooner the better.

  10. H says:

    The problems that people of my generation have with the people of my parents generation is that the questions that we asked were not answered at all. We were told to never question God. That is in fact the very way to push people away. Now people in their 30”s, my generation, are either seeking the truth that we felt we were not given, accepting a glossed over version of modern day “Christianity” that is traditional or completely turned away from what and how we were raised. And teaching our kids things that are not truth because the church has failed in their responsibility to teach truth and educate in an honest manner. I was raised in church, I”ve seen everything from conservative southern baptist to Pentecostal. I”ve church hopped from one leadership position to the next since I was 16. I”ve been “serving” in churches since I was very young. I find the church politics and leadership committees to be stringent and uptight. Many people mean well, but, miss the mark. We don”t know our own faith. We don”t know how to answer the hard questions and be honest with people that want answers. That”s why people like Katy Perry say stuff like this. If I am so wrong, then WHY can people who aren”t even of the Christian faith quote scripture better than people who say they are Christian? I know why they do it, but shouldn”t people who love God and meditate on Him and His word know it better than those who do not? And not only quote it but understand the context of it. Let”s be honest, the church is SO out of touch with what is real and what Christ actually intended for the church and the people that need Him. We erect tall expensive buildings with thousands of dollars of sound equipment installed inside for what? Then we slap a cross on the front of the building to glorify The Lord? Hmmmm… The preacher drives a bently or a BMW and preaches about humility and living without for Christ? He is elevated to a place of power as if he is some kind of god. Why? The church puts a stage up at the front with the worship team erected like a concert. Everyone is noticed and put in a place of power and honor and it is all a show put on for the audience. ALL WRONG! None of this is right and none of this is what Paul intended for the church in Acts. Man made all of this up for the church, specifically the Catholic Church and it has been tradition ever since. When will we break tradition and realize that it”s not about us. Then maybe people will come and want to hear what the church has to say.

    1. Susan says:

      Gosh, you asked some good questions. Any answers?

    2. Nate says:

      This is the same problem that I faced with the church and reason that I subsequently left. I felt alienated because of my objections to certain denominational dogma, and I felt that free-thinking and debate is just not tolerated, especially when you have church elders that just “know better”. These lofty positions seem to make them believe that they cannot be questioned, and that youth can”t possibly bring meaningful discussion to their version of absolute truth. Divergent thought is what created the Protestant movement.

  11. Barbara says:

    I think it”s important to point out that, not only should the church give room for people with “doubts” and questions, they should also continue to be, not only accepting, but welcoming of those who do not hold the same view, without marginalizing them because they are seen as “wrong.” in the 1950s, the church rejected youth based on their involvement with rock music, and before that, those who participated in the “evils” of dance. Rather than marginalizing people who take a different stance on, for example, gay marriage, and rather than a focus on “fixing” the thinking that doesn”t line up with what the mainstream Christian would accept as right, perhaps today”s church should recognize that they don”t KNOW everything for sure. How much more respect would that garner from a generation with questions, than hard-line black and white stances that may well change at some point in the future, anyway?

    1. Tom says:

      Because morality is very important to a Holy God, the scripture tells us , “without Holiness no man shall see God” Hebrews 12:14. Its not making those that take different stance’s on issues insignificant or peripheral, just showing them their wrong, in hopefully, a loving way. Gods way is not our way, Isaiah 55:9, “ For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
      The hard –line stance of God will never change, as “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever”. Hebrews 13:8. That’s the whole reason for Candi saying, “we must equip our students to know truth, share truth, and defend truth, especially since they live in a world that doesn’t realize that Jesus is the Truth.”

  12. John says:

    It seems to me that you may have inadvertently used the wrong term above where you mention “Pluralism”. Some versions of “religious relativism” involve the normative judgment that all religions are equally true. Pluralism, on the other hand, is an attitude toward religious diversity that falls short of such a claim . Pluralism recognizes that there are differences and disagreements between adherents of different faiths, but hopes that dialogue can lead to mutual education about different faiths, while not calling for adherence to any of the tenets of those other faiths. See, for example, Harvard”s Pluralism Project, for more information. http://pluralism.org/pluralism/what_is_pluralism

    1. Candi Finch says:

      Hey John, I appreciate your comment. However, as you are probably aware, people disagree about the exact nuance of meaning of pluralism; in fact, you could probably identify at least four different understandings of the term. The article by Diana Eck that you cite above gives the idea of pluralism that is closely tied to ecumenism or at least to a commitment of the unity or coexistence of competing religious ideologies that seek understanding of different religious viewpoints. However, the classic understanding of religious pluralism goes further than the article by Eck and is understood as a worldview that argues a person”s religious belief system is not the exclusive source of truth and that two belief systems with competing or mutually exclusive truth claims are equally valid. It is this understanding of pluralism that I use above.

      1. Gun Nordström says:

        Diana Eck does not in her article give four different understandings of the term pluralism but her own understanding of it describing in four points the qualities
        there ought to be in a person being pluralistic. I find the qualities mentioned very much like those we find in Jesus, reading about the way he approached the people he met in everyday life, seeking to understand everyone from his heart to theirs. BTW Jesus had no belief system other than that the energy of God is in everyone and that everyone who goes seeking within will find the Kingdom of Heaven there, as he himself had found it. Every religious group having their own belief system is separating themselves from every other group and is not feeling ONE with ALL, as Jesus did.

  13. WordVixen says:

    Hi Candi. I”m not going to pretend to agree with your whole post, although I think I see your heart and I appreciate your kind way of delivering your message. But when I read “When you come across a Katy Perry in your church who is expressing doubts or wrestling with her faith, it is important how you communicate the truth.” I couldn”t just let it go.

    This way of approaching doubt will have the same result as a hellfire and brimstone preacher calling people out from the pulpit- maybe even worse because a kind tone makes someone feel responsible for keeping the other person happy. If someone in *your* church is questioning or doubting, they already know every answer that you”re going to give them. They got the answers from the same place you did (I realize that you may have some outside influence, other pastors that you listen to, etc, but unless you make a particular effort to find diverse voices, they”re all going to have a similar worldview). Someone who is struggling with doubt does not need to hear an answer, no matter how it”s delivered. They need to feel safe while they work through it themselves. “Because Jesus” isn”t a true answer to someone who is doubting. If you”re only offering up answers, rather than holding their pain and supporting their grasp at life, then you”re part of the problem. You have nothing to offer them, if all you offer is answers- they have those answers. The difficulty is that they don”t *believe* those answers. Having words repeated at them, no matter how it”s spun, is nothing new and will teach them nothing, and will reinforce to them that you are not a safe person and the church is not a safe place for them to find their own faith.

    And isn”t that what you really, really want? For them to make their faith their own? To really believe and have a full life in Christ? Offering answers does not help a person to grow, and it does not help them to move beyond “because I”m supposed to say/believe this”. Even Jesus didn”t give answers. He told stories and let people work through the messages on their own. Frankly, when his own disciples, the people that knew him, the real life flesh and blood Jesus, better than anyone else told him what they thought he was saying? He actually called them idiots. The bible itself says that you can”t win converts except through the Holy Spirit.

    I”m sorry, I believe that your intentions are good, but I can not see this as helpful in any way.

    1. Gun Nordström says:

      Wordvixen, you wrote it in clear words. The Spirit will help every eager seeker to move beyond and find their inner answers giving them a faith of their own, showing them how to live in love and trust from moment to moment

    2. Melita says:

      Amen 🙂

    1. Barbara says:

      Great response to this, David!

  14. Trian says:

    “However, you become your own god when you design “the salad” instead of God.”
    I guess we disagree on a fundamental. I do not believe that the church = God, therefore I do not believe that God designed the salad when throughout history, the formal associations of mostly men decided what was in it and what was ok to go with it. Continuing your line of thinking; is the church then its own God?

  15. Mark says:

    As a 60 year old “Katy Perry,” I”ve been through ALL the church”s traditional answers to my questions, and found them lacking. The concept of “original sin,” which Christianity got from the Hebrews” Genesis story, is not found in Judaism. Neither is eternal Hell. And why would a loving God wait many thousands of years to send a savior – one who is the only gateway to the Father – when billions have already died before this gateway existed? And then this gateway is SO important to everyone”s eternal salvation that the communication process is “word of mouth” in a world which will be unable to get the message out to everyone for another 100 generations?

    This arrogant attitude of mainline Christianity – that only Christians (and really, only CERTAIN Christians – not Catholics, not Mormons, not Jehovah”s Witnesses, not…) got the message from God, is most of the reason you”re getting deservedly tuned out by, and becoming irrelevant to, the increasing majority of people. Not just young people. There are a whole lot of us Katy Perrys out here, of all ages.

    1. Barbara says:

      Absolutely Mark… agree wholeheartedly!

    2. Tom says:

      I am 65 and found them not lacking. The very fact that God instructed the the Hebrews to sacrifice for their sins, proves it was in Judaism. In Hebrews 10:1-7 tells, in compact way, that the old system (in Judaism) was just a prelude to the sacrifice of Jesus that was permanent and complete as these scripture show.

      Why did it take such a long time? Galatians 4:4,5 tells us, “ But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
      It was His time table, not our’s, and those that died before went to Abraham’s bosom, and when Christ died ,He lead “captivity captive” Ephesians 4:8 KJV. Another translation say’s, “ , He led captive a host of captives,…”NASB. These are those that came before the Lord’s coming as redeemer for those that are saved by faith in Him (Ephesians 2:8).
      Gods ways are righteous, Psalm 19:9
      “..: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

      100 generations not having the word? Romans 1:19,20, “ Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” This is speaking of those that are not Jews, but Gentile. Again, Romans 2:14-16, “ For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their ‘conscience’ also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another; In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” No, God is not unrighteous. He will do that which is right for each man’s conscience will accuse or excuse.
      He has it covered.
      This arrogant attitude of mainline Christianity ! Its not mainline Christianities, but Gods! John 3;17,18, “ For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” These are Jesus own words, and if any one is arrogant, its Him. Yet, this perceived “arrogance” is really a loving warning, as God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost. …. 2 Peter 3:9.

  16. Kathy says:

    Great and relevant article…I also enjoyed the comments and your excellent communication style and responses. You are making a difference!

  17. Dave Paisley says:

    just more church guilt wrapped up in a pseudo-accepting package. You still basically say that it”s wrong to doubt, just to manage it more carefully. And reaching more kids as teenagers doesn”t mean that it sticks in later years (see, for example, the purity movements that turned out to have worse outcomes than their peers). The true test of youth ministry comes years later when you find out what kind of adults the youth have become. I”ll take the kids with doubts that have a good foundation of their own identity rather than some church groupthink conformity.

  18. Lidia says:

    Very interesting article! I really like how you tie in Katy Perry, someone so prevalent in popular culture, to a topic about youth, who are very immersed and often obsessed with popular culture. I have a question for you though -and this is genuinely a question, not a dig or anything- does anything else matter if you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and saviour? Does it matter if you believe in the traditional idea of heaven and hell? If you believe in aliens? If you support gay rights?

    Further, have you ever looked at Katy Perry”s lyrics? Have you ever heard the song Who am I Living For? It”s great! I don”t even know how to describe the lyrics other than that they are beautiful and empowering, yet you kind of feel for this young woman who has certain Christian beliefs in a society and a career that isn”t really accepting of it. I would love for you to listen to it and then let me know! Lots of biblical imagery. Songs like Lost, Firework, Part of Me, Wide Awake, By the Grace of God, and Unconditionally also seem to demonstrate that Katy has her beliefs and wants her fans to know about them, but in a subtle way. I”m thinking about doing my undergraduate thesis (in English) on these hidden messages in her lyrics and would love to hear your opinion!

    Coming from a 20 year old Christian with lots of questions,
    God bless

  19. mila labor says:

    well said! …. very insightful a must read for all parents

  20. Pinkiu says:

    You address the problem well but didn”t provide a real solution. How would you specifically talk with the Katy Perry”s in the church. When they express their doubt, instead of giving them the Christianese answer, what would you actually say instead. I wish that would have been included for those who wouldn”t know what to say.

  21. Karen says:

    I find that the word “church” for many represents this building that are full (or may not be so full) of all these snobs.
    However, one of my favorite sayings is “the church is not a hotel for saints, it is a hospital for sinners.” As such, I am not saying that there aren”t saints in the church – you may know many saints – I am saying that “we -us sinners” are the church – and praise God for his grace that through Jesus Christ – we are forgiven and are able to have a relationship with Him! We aren”t perfect. Only the One who created us is.

  22. Gaye says:

    Part of the problem stems from the fact that the adults in the church do not know themselves the answers to the toughest questions and whose fault is that? It is, I hate to say, a two fold problem. 1. It is the publishers of the SS curriculums that are publishing material that is spoon fed and mushy. It is also the fault of the SS in not preparing teachers to teach the tough questions. Find a church that is preparing teachers to teach and you will find a SS that has adults and kids asking and finding answers. We are not preparing our people both adults and children/teens to be critical thinkers. Few if any know or understands the concept of the Bloom”s taxonomy of critical thinking and how to formulate critical thinking questions. This has to change if we want our teens to think and process information. Until that happens there will be more Katy Perry”s exiting our churches and yes their parents too.

  23. Elemi says:

    Hi. I am not American, but am a Christian. I can”t relate to Modern Western Christianity, which actually deviates from the original, first century Judaic movement that it originally was. The problem with your churches is that you don”t engage yourselves with apologetics. You don”t have pastors on television who actually inform their believers as someone like Bishop N.T. Wright.

    Majority of your churches I see on television is all about “feeling good” and “feeling right with God” which are teachings that aren”t actually true. And the fact that your young people have been sheltered too much in their lives, making them believe that God will provide everything they all wanted is what”s definitely wrong here. Jesus suffered through being socially maligned, knowing that He lived in a culture that was more honour-oriented rather than individualistic.

    To give them answers is not the solution. It”s just trying to give them band-aid. I am always constantly reminded of the book of Jude that there are just people out there who choose not to follow God, and it isn”t our job anymore to help them. They will answer for that in their death beds.

    I apologise if I sound so harsh here. I mostly grew up in a place where poverty is abound. I felt the whole thing in my faith made more sense in all that suffering. Christ suffered, and all those who have first served him did as well. And I don”t even ask those questions like “why is there so much suffering in the world if there is a loving God out there who could”ve pluck these all out?…” because perhaps I have grown up with so much of that around that I don”t seem to find the disconnection between existence of God and the existence of suffering.

    I won”t discourage such people asking this, but I always question their intention on it. Because most who approach this question have already closed off themselves from seeking the truth. I”m not suppose to spoon-feed them. Let them reflect through on it themselves and get them to read materials qualified to answer them like Christian philosophers. I am not someone who can articulate answers well even if I know them, and to admit that is better than attempting to know ready-made answers which is really being insincere and dishonest.

  24. krystal says:

    Hi I”m Krystal,
    I grew up on and off in the church as well. Both sides of my family proclaim that they are Catholics. I don”t go to church with my parents because they don”t drive, so now I”m going to my friends church. I”m not even sure what faith it really is; and I”m kind of embrassed to ask. Anyway since they claim they are catholic, they expect me to be the same thing through and through. Well it”s not my belief. As a teen in High School Im 22 and graduated 4 years ago, I read a lot on Protestanism. I think the book that really changed everything for me was a book called Innocent Traitor about Lady Jane Grey or the 9 Day queen as she is known in history. I”m very Literate and Protestanism fits with MY Views as a person, not my parents views. I”ve tried to explain this to my mom but she won”t accept it. So I think for now the only thing I can do is go along with that I”m catholic or Anglician and just continue going to my friends church.

    I”m just waiting for that moment in church where I agree with what is being said.

  25. I believe that Christianity as a whole is greatly responsible for people becoming Atheists and also for children growing up in the Church leaving when they become old enough to reason.

    The reason I say this is because Christianity today has adopted the concept of an eternally burning Hell and eternal torment from the Catholic Church who got it from the Pagans. The Bible clearly teaches that the wicked will burn for a time, but then they will be “burned up” as the Bible puts it. That”s why Jesus said to fear not man, but to fear God who can destroy both body and soul in hell.

    Secondly, the Church Leaders have allowed New Age concepts to infiltrate the Christian Churches. They are ignorant and some are even purposely allowing these things like “the Emergent Church” into the Churches. Is it any wonder then that the kids are leaving and turning into New Agers?

    George Barna, who heads the Barna Group, a polling organization warns:

    “Make no mistake about it: the appeal of the New Age ideas and practices is continuing to grow. Millions of Christians espouse New Age beliefs without realizing what they are doing. Many leaders in the Church are poorly informed and unaware of this subtle threat to Christian orthodoxy.” Barna, The Barna Report, 1992-93

    And last but not least, Christianity for the most part today teaches their members that we no longer have to keep the 10 Commandments and that we “just believe”. This is not biblical either, and they adopted that also from the New Age Religion.

    David Spangler, New Ager, makes it clear about how he really feels about God”s Law:

    ”We can take all the Scriptures and all the teachings, and all the tablets and all the Laws, and all the marshmallows and have a jolly good bonfire and marshmallow roast, because that”s all they are worth. Once you are the law, once you are the truth, you do not need it externally represented for you.” -David Spangler, ”Emergence: Rebirth of the Sacred”, Findhorn Publications, pg. 144

    With no moral compass, no Law, why should we expect the kids to stay with the “Christian” Religion today? Perhaps it isn”t GENUINE Christianity they are rejecting at all. Perhaps they have never SEEN it.

  26. C Carpenter says:


    Thank you for writing this article. Not enough Christians reflect on the arts and music scene and what we can learn from it. Kudos on that PhD! We need more educated women in ministry.

    In the quote you shared, Katy Perry didn’t really seem to have a problem with the “whole Christianity thing”, as you put it. She had a problem with the “strict and sheltered and rigid” upbringing she had.

    She still believes in God, though she seems not perfectly clear on who He is. She has incorporated New Agey things because the church was not providing for her spiritual needs. They might be providing for her mental needs by teaching her lots about the Bible, and preaching excellent sermons. They might be providing for her soul by giving her the Scriptural guide lines of honoring God, oneself, and one’s neighbor. They’ve also provided a bit for her body, by providing for her soul, though I’m sure personal trainers, gyms, and lots of dancing do more.

    I agree with you that thousands of young people wrestle with Christianity, especially those who were brought up in it. I think, though, that they are not struggling with whether or not they believe the whole Christianity thing– most of them struggle with the fact that their spiritual needs not being met. Like Katy Perry, many young people are looking to other sources and authorities, like the New Age movement, for information, guidance, and help on spiritual things. If their spiritual needs were met by the church, they would not struggle with believing everything else taught in Scripture; the biggest problem would be solved, so the other things would be easily received.

    If humanity were really pursuing spiritual things, it would soon discover that in only one religious system does your spirit have true liberty, joy, and wisdom– Christianity. It is the only way to the One True God, Creator and Sustainer, Alpha and Omega. Only one path leads to Him. There are other paths, and other things (other gods) at the end of them. These other gods don’t offer love, forgiveness, eternal life, etc. The path with our God at the end is definitely the best. Unfortunately, much of the church in America does not do a good job of pursuing and understanding the spiritual.

    The Katy Perrys in your church don’t really have doubts, and aren’t really wrestling with their faith– those are just the presenting, surface issues. Let me rephrase that– they do have fevers, but there is a sickness causing the fever. The Katy Perrys have legitimate, pressing needs that are not being met. The church needs to come to a deeper understanding of the spiritual realm, and the preeminence of Christ within it. If the church is going to engage and meet the needs of the next generation, and save them from the enticing spiritual knowledge of the New Age, and other such paths, it needs to not only meet the needs of their souls and minds, but also of their spirits.

  27. Priscila M. says:

    I agree! Churches should be teaching people to think for themselves – not how, but to do it critically -, because if you don”t have a solid base of thinking I know for experience that anything can deceive you, specially when you”re a teenager and don”t analyze the information you”re receiving through music, television, movies, etc.

  28. Art says:

    Thanks for this. I”ve been in student ministry for almost 25 years and this has been one of the long uphill climbs. Teaching the Truth with compassion has been a trademark of my ministries. My heart breaks at the plurality that is seeping into the Church, even in leadership, yet it is still often paired with judgmental commentary.
    Thank you for your article that serves as both an encouragement and a challenge.

  29. Kathy Children says:

    I believe we should be teaching our children to study the Bible for themselves, and not be told what to believe. If you want them to know God, introduce them to His Word – http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/parenting/foundations/spiritual-development/teaching-your-children-to-study-the-bible#.U45cASjvIoI

  30. Michael says:

    John 17:17 KJV

    Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

    Psalms 119:160 KJV

    Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

  31. Gordon says:

    Greetings, I know that I am way out of place on what I have read here, but nonetheless will throw in my 2 cents. From what I have read of Katy Perry’s parents they are involved in an extreme form of Charismatic teaching. So Katy Perry’s doctrinal underpinnings would be scant to say the least. There are only 2 types of people in this world, unregenerate and regenerate. A regenerate person has the Holy Spirit in their lives who opens their eyes to the truths of Scripture. The unregenerate person does not have the Holy Spirit and is blinded to the truths of scripture. That is theology in a nutshell.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *