The Church and the “Millenial” generation
A friend of mine on facebook posted this article on the generation of Americans known as “millennials” (roughly those born between 1980 and the year 2000 as I understand it) and their souring relationship with the “Church” which church that is the author wasn’t clear but I believe she means the protestant evangelical church, though again how she would define that isn’t clear.
Here are my thoughts:
I think within most of what she intends to say she is wrong, or at least she is wrong from a biblical / spiritual point of view, she may be right about what the millenials are looking for but her conclusion of “lets give it to them” is far, far from on target but a few of the things she says in passing are quite true.
Now I’m going to cut directly to the heart of the issue and while she says a lot of things that are quite wrong and should probably be addressed, towards the end of her article she says this “we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there“ and I want to talk about that for just a second.
Because she gives us quite a list of things we aren’t supposed to talk about and then tells us to show her Jesus. Which truly is fair, no one will get into heaven because they waited until marriage to have sex or voted republican or went to church for that matter, getting into heaven is based solely and wholly upon simple faith in Jesus Christ to give you eternal life. To talk about any other aspect of the Christian life to an unbeliever is static and noise above the signal and should be debrided from your gospel message like an abscess.
But what is the Church and who is it for? The asking of that question can quite easily descend into an argument, but the only answer to be found in scripture is that Church is for those who have believed in Jesus for eternal life and seek to be more like him. Anyone else will naturally feel like an outsider, especially unbelievers, for they are at a family meeting of those to whom they are not related. The church is for the meat of the faith to be meditated upon by those who have believed, not to draw in the outsider for evangelical purposes. Evangelism should happen outside the walls of the church, fellowship and encouragement is what we meet for in the church. (This is not an argument against sharing the gospel during a church service, which is a very, very good thing! It is an argument against missing the point of what the church is for at a very fundamental level)
Any church that has as their primary goal to see those who attend come to faith is not a church; they are an evangelistic organization and should stop selling themselves as a church. The primary goal of the local church should be to see those within the body grow in discipleship, to help improve the standing of its members before the Bema of Christ in the last day!
So yes, find Jesus! And once you have believed on Him the church has not the right but the responsibility to talk about every single other item on that list of no-no topics she listed out there for us.
Speaking of which, let’s look at those topics for a moment shall we? Keeping in mind that a Church should be saying things directed at believers 95% of the time or more here is her list of things millennials want from their Church:
- We want an end to the culture wars.
- We want a truce between science and faith.
- We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.
- We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.
- We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.
- We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.
- We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.
Let’s walk through that list real quick and see if there is any truth to what she says;
1) Culture war? Yeah man! ‘Cause helping Christians stand against an evil culture that is trying to destroy everything good and moral in the USA and to effectively stand up for a culture that is friendly to Christianity is CLEARLY outside the purview of the Church.
2) Science and Faith? *sigh* really? Because standing up for and giving Christians the tools to defend biblical truths like creation against junk propaganda “science” is haaaard and our friends might think we are Jesus freaks or something.
3) We want to stand for STUFF! But not stuff that anyone is against, or that might upset our friends, ‘cause that could get awkward.
4) As far as I know, asking legit questions is always welcome in church, well maybe not in the middle of the service but you know what I mean. If your church gets cross at you for asking honest questions then you should definitely leave that sucker!
5) Ahh politics! Lol for some reason you never hear complaints about politics from liberals in a liberal church. I think someone has an agenda speaking of which…
6) Homosexuals! now, I have to kinda sorta agree with her, we should want any sinner, seeking life to feel welcome in our midst, however I don’t think people who define themselves as strongly by their sins as homosexuals do are ever going to feel welcome in a group of people seeking Christ-likeness however friendly we are to them. They define themselves so often by their sexual preference that it becomes their personality and who they are, rather than a thing they do that the only way to accomplish the goal is to preach permissiveness when it comes to sex, which is clearly unbiblical. And preaching biblical truth is what the church is there for! Now remember, this is totally 100% separate from your gospel message which should NEVER include any commentary about someone’s lifestyle, we are all equally unrighteous before God and all equally need to believe in Jesus!
7) Right, holiness I can understand the frustration of these “millennials” if they don’t want anything divisive or absolute but want to know how to live a life of holiness. Now her point about most Christian communities being somewhat obsessed about sex as sort of the definition of purity and righteousness is well made, I’ve personally never been totally clear on how sexual sin is soooo much worse than gossip, stealing, lying or speeding on the highway but apparently it is. What I think, is that lots of Christians need to calm down lol.
Or, allow me to translate succinctly:
“We want the church to tell us stuff we can do that makes us feel good about ourselves, maybe even look good to our unbelieving hipster friends, but we don’t like moral or natural absolutes that contradict modern culture or thought because that might be awkward.”
Now don’t get me wrong, its super tough to preach about righteousness and maintain that mentality of God’s infinite grace and the total assurance we have of eternal life having believed in Jesus! The critical loss is the understanding of the Judgment seat of Christ (the bema) and what our call is.
“Go, therefore and make Disciples” is not the same as “go and make big-ass churches that have a great cross section demographic of age groups and nationality’s oh and you need to have a super active missions team and a popular youth group”. But to walk the road of discipleship, what 1st John calls being “in the light” and to teach others to walk that way as well, is to teach that truth that we are assured of our destination, but called to righteousness and greatness in the kingdom along the way and we should never shrink from that message to anyone for any reason!