Read. Write. Repeat. Aspire to be a Janitor.
Shock. Horror. Plot twist. The America of the Fifties has long been gone. From pipe organ hymns to “Jesus is Just Alright With Me,” Vacation Bible School to Acquire the Fire, Lutheran to Pentecostal, Calvinism to Arminianism, Liberation Theology to Antinomianism, Rob Bell to Mark Driscoll, Emerging to Emergent, the Millenials are looking back at this vast heritage of polarization and are asking “is it really worth it?”
Yes, even I have asked this question.
Oh, who am I?
Well, I’m a Southern Baptist, born and raised. I even spent time at a Southern Baptist college.
I was also born in 1990- putting me directly in the middle of the Millenial age group.
What do I see?
I see my generation leaving the church. Everyone sees this. It’s an epidemic (or that’s how it seems). So, it is treated like an epidemic. Remedies are concocted much like pharmaceuticals in pastors’ retreats and the findings are published in books and blogs. Tweet, retweet. Like. Share. Comment.
While the eschatological Millenial Exodus (let’s be honest, that’s how it is being sold) left the old churches with whiplash, new seeker-friendly churches took the forefront. You know- the ones with reclining chairs and a Venti Jesus a la mode.
Wonderful, people are getting back into church!
However, getting people into church and them accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior are two different things.
While I look across my friends over the past several years, I see some thriving in their faith and others, disillusioned. Something must be wrong when I see fellow Southern Baptist college dropouts struggling with atheism, alcoholism, depression, and even suicide.
At the same moment, I see the people who stand strong in their faith try to figure out why the Exodus is still happening.
Recently, we’ve seen people sharing Rachel Held Evans’ article on the revived Millenial Exodus. I have been quite amazed by her faulty hermeneutics, but I appreciate how she has propelled people to know exactly what the Bible says.
In her article, Ms. Evans calls out the seeker-sensitive churches and their shoddy theology saying, “[i]n fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular.”
In another article by Brett McCracken, written in response to Ms. Evans’ thesis, he calls out the Millenials for acting as if we had it figured out. He also calls out the church for being consumer driven and not driven by orthodoxy.
Much of this is an outgrowth of the audience-is-sovereign mentality of the seeker-sensitive movement, which has loomed large in evangelicalism’s recent history. Another part of it is Christianity’s capitulation to a consumerist culture where the primary goal is to scratch where the market itches.
The main message the still believing Millenials are crying out for is a Gospel-centered church. Ah, the Gospel. We must be on the right path.
While a call back to our foundational principles is a wonderful thing, this will work as well as the seeker-friendly style worked- like a band-aid on a heart attack.
If you read enough articles, attend enough conferences, and listen to enough sermons, you will hear something very familiar, yet overlooked. Remember the first game ever played or recorded?
That’s right, the blame game. Adam blamed Eve; Eve blamed the serpent. We blame this style of worship or that type of church. We point fingers at the secular universities and liberal evangelicals. It’s the Millenials’ fault; it’s their parents’ fault.
How about this: it is nobody’s fault. There is nothing wrong.
I don’t need a list of 8 or 11 reasons to build this post. There is only one reason Millenials are leaving the church.
Guess what. If you are a believer reading this, you are a believer because you made a choice to respond to a call from God. Newsflash: the non-believers are the same way. They made a choice to respond differently from you.
We can point fingers and shift blame, but this is exactly the problem with Millenials, myself included. Our sense of entitlement has lead us to abandoning personal responsibility. It must be someone else’s fault.
Like I just said, there is no-one who is to blame. We are so concerned about the reason people leave. If you are still in the church, look to your flock to meet their needs. That is the commitment you made.
There is nothing you can do but truly live out your faith and dialogue with those who are outside. Gimmicks are for car salespeople. Love is not a gimmick, and Love is what we’re commanded to do.
The Millenials have weighed the faith of their forefathers and found it lacking. Now, they must either continue to seek the truth or die in uncertainty. Their salvation is between them and the Judge. Pray. Fast. Weep. Share. That is what you can do for the Millenials, not play into our entitlement.
We have left because we chose to leave. We chose to find our potential outside of the Church. We decided that the community that invested into our lives is not worth our sticking around.
We abdicated the responsibility to lead the future church to those who remain. We will not come back if you change. We will not come back if you don’t.
We will come back when we choose.
In the meantime, love us, pray for us, call us out, challenge our minds. And please stop bickering in front of your children.
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