Currently, a high percentage of churched young people leave the church after the age of 18, with only a fraction of those going ever returning. (Pexels/Ghost Presenter)

Thousands appear to be losing Jesus in the very place they should find Him. Currently, a high percentage of churched young people leave the church after the age of 18, with only a fraction of those going ever returning. Sadly, older ones are also dropping out at the very time they should be more and more in!

It is ironic that the first people to lose Jesus in the church were Joseph and Mary. When He was 12 years old, they went to Jerusalem for the feast. This pilgrimage was a yearly trip for them, and the Bible says when the celebration was over, they traveled back to Nazareth, assuming Jesus was with them in the crowd of family and fellow travelers. They went a full day's journey before realizing that He wasn't. They had left him behind in Jerusalem.

They immediately turned back and began the search. Although the caravan had only traveled one day away from Him, it took them twice as long to find Him. They found Him in the temple, the recognized house of worship. When they questioned Jesus with concern and perhaps a bit of aggravation (as parents are apt to do when anxious about their children), His answer is one of gentle rebuke, "How is it that you searched for Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (See Luke 2:41-50.) In essence, He was saying to them that they should have known where to find Him. He would be in His Father's house and doing His Father's work.

If Joseph and Mary can lose Jesus in church, isn't it possible that we can also? The sad truth is that multiplied thousands have indeed lost Jesus in the very place they should find Him. Some, like Joseph and Mary, journey through life, supposing He is with them—when they are in reality, they choose their path and walk away from Him. Others, like the religious leaders and learned people, stay in the temple and marvel at His wisdom. They are curious about His ideas, but never come to know Him truly and experience His transforming grace.

We must not fall into either of these traps. Without Jesus, our gatherings produce nothing more than the camaraderie of inmates on death row. Without the King, this kingdom has no power to affect the needed change and release the excellent plan of the Lord.

Here are eight keys to help avoid losing Jesus in church:

Key 1: We must be careful that formulas and tradition never replace the reality of His powerful presence (2 Tim. 3:5).

Key 2: We must love truth! Even when it makes us miserable, it will still make us free (John 8:31-32, 2 Thess. 2:10).

Key 3: We must seek His way of doing things and right standing with Him as the highest priority of our lives (Matt. 6:33).

Key 4: We must keep His final words before ascending into Heaven the primary focus in all, we do in ministry (Matt. 28:19-20, Mark 16:15-18, Acts 1:4-8).

Key 5: We must know and believe the love He has for us (1 John 4:16).

Key 6: We must keep the flame of His Spirit gifts blazing in our hearts (2 Tim. 1:6).

Key 7: We must love God with all that we are and love others as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:36-40).

Key 8: We must trust enough to surrender completely to Him! Laying down our lives, taking up our cross and following where He leads (Mark 8:34-38).

Our generation desperately needs to see Jesus: the living, loving Savior-King. We must help people of every age distinguish between pseudo-Christian religious activity and the truth of the real Jesus. He is still busy doing His Father's work in all who believe and yield to Him. Let's do all we can to make Jesus famous in this generation! Let's continue to lift Him high. Let's do our best to get preachers, singers, musicians, organizations and ourselves out of the way so people can see Jesus and get to know Him. When they do, they will never be same. I believe the tide is turning, and this generation is on the precipice of a true Jesus movement,

Keith Nix is the founding lead pastor of a thriving congregation, The Lift Church in Sevierville, Tennessee. He has traveled as an international evangelist since 1993 carrying a unique prophetic message of awakening to this generation. He and his wife, Margie, have one daughter, Isabella. To learn more and get a free audio download you can visit keithnix.net

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