J. C. Kuehn Miller

Read. Write. Repeat. Aspire to be a Janitor.

The Real Reason We’re Leaving the Church

Yes, We’re Leaving the Church

ChristLutheranChurch03111101Shock. 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.

What They’re Saying About Us

CANDLENOV2904Let’s make it edgier. Let’s replicate orthodox sacraments. We need more candles and hair gel. More plaid. “Who here plays a banjo?”

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.

How We’re Responding

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.

Where We All Fall Short

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.

The 1 Reason We Are Really Leaving

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.

Will the Exodus Ever End?

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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12 comments on “The Real Reason We’re Leaving the Church

  1. james jordan
    August 4, 2013

    “However, getting people into church and them accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior are two different things.”

    Oh please. More Calvinist crapola Its this kind of dismissive Calvinist nonsense that says “nobody’s a real Christian but me” that makes people leave the church to begin with.

    The reason people are leaving is the Calvinist doctrine that says justification is by faith alone in faith alone, to the extent that if you live right morally, you’re going to hell.

    People get tired of the insinuation that since they aren’t at the club getting drunk and getting laid, they aren’t real Christians. The claims that a real Christian lives a life of sin to PROVE how committed they are to faith alone in faith alone, drives people from the church.

    Who are you to tell me I can’t live a good life because I’m Christian? Bye bye church. Fill yourself up with drunks, fornicators, adulterers, abortionists, rapists (like the SGM church is full of). That’s what you attract because you preach that those who live right are going to hell for not sinning sinning sinning to prove their commitment to “faith alone.”

    • J. C. Kuehn Miller
      August 4, 2013

      1- “More Calvinist crapola.” This is the one quote you choose to call out Calvinism? Was not the whole post about personal choice (not exactly Arminian, but there’s more choice in it than Calvinism)?

      2- “The reason people are leaving is the Calvinist doctrine…” Again, the point of the post was to stop pointing fingers at ideologies, practices, and styles. You’re polarizing the Christian world against itself, and “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” I refer back to my post: “Please stop bickering in front of your children.”

      3- “The claims that a real Christian lives a life of sin to PROVE how committed they are to faith alone in faith alone, drives people from the church.” Again, shifting blame. Second, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

      4- You seem to be quite angry toward people who don’t think like you. I’m not saying you have to agree, but to the point that you pull a quote, stretch it, and read your anger into it, you might need to step back.

      Much love.

      • james jordan
        August 4, 2013

        I’m not polarizing anyone. The polarization is already there. I’m pointing out that its Calvinism that runs people off. Its not the “bickering” that does it. Its the cause of the bickering. You’ve got a bunch of sola-fide Nazis telling people that unless they live as horrid sinners they aren’t trusting in faith alone enough, and they’re running off people who dare live moral lives and believe in Jesus both — you know, the real Christians. And defending the Calvinists makes you one of them in my book.

  2. Pingback: “The Real Reason We’re Leaving the Church”: A Response to this article | descriptivegrace

  3. james jordan
    August 4, 2013
  4. james jordan
    August 4, 2013

    BTW, to mirror your statement that going to church doesn’t mean accepting Jesus as your savior — leaving the church doesn’t mean leaving Jesus behind. Many people are tired of the legalistic antinomianism of the churches, but they haven’t tossed faith in Jesus aside. They just don’t go to church anymore.

  5. scannon912
    August 5, 2013

    I am a layman here, but it seems that james jordan is a poster-child for what this JC Kuehn person is talking about. Looking for right blend of ‘ism to balance righteousness (according to themselves) and Church membership.

    “Fill yourself up with drunks, fornicators, adulterers, abortionists, rapists..” Again, a layman speaking here, but I think if you have a CHURCH preaching the work of Christ, filled with fornicators, drunks, abortionists, etc… that is EXACTLY what Christ would want.

    • james jordan
      August 5, 2013

      That is exactly what Christ would want assuming these people are going to repent, but what I mean is you guys are filling up the church with unrepentant drunks, fornicators, adulterers, abortionists, rapists by your asinine doctrine of “prove you believe in faith alone by never repenting.”

  6. Brian
    August 5, 2013

    James: You’re drumming up controversy where there is none in order to drive traffic to your asinine blog. You should work on reading comprehension as you’ve clearly missed the boat.

  7. cavemusings
    August 6, 2013

    James, What is the SGM church? And where are you hearing this ” legalistic antinomianism”?

    • james jordan
      August 6, 2013

      Sovereign Grace Ministries.
      Anywhere you go where there’s a Calvinist.

      • cavemusings
        August 7, 2013

        pssh tell me about it. Pretty much everybody I love, including my wife is. What I’ve learned is though, most of them don’t make that big a deal out of it. Simma down brono.

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