Posted by: the warrioress | September 15, 2013

Leaving the Church

English: Trinity Parish Church (Episcopal), Fi...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I’m often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.

Armed with the latest surveys, along with personal testimonies from friends and readers, I explain how young adults perceive evangelical Christianity to be too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I point to research that shows young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness.

I talk about how the evangelical obsession with sex can make Christian living seem like little more than sticking to a list of rules, and how millennials long for faith communities in which they are safe asking tough questions and wrestling with doubt.

Invariably, after I’ve finished my presentation and opened the floor to questions, a pastor raises his hand and says, “So what you’re saying is we need hipper worship bands. …”

And I proceed to bang my head against the podium.

Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates  edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.

But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.

In fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular.

Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions  Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.

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.

You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.

Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.

Now these trends are obviously true not only for millennials but also for many folks from other generations. Whenever I write about this topic, I hear from forty-somethings and grandmothers, Generation Xers and retirees, who send me messages in all caps that read “ME TOO!” So I don’t want to portray the divide as wider than it is.

But I would encourage church leaders eager to win millennials back to sit down and really talk with them about what they’re looking for and what they would like to contribute to a faith community.

Their answers might surprise you.”

Rachel Held Evans is the author of “Evolving in Monkey Town” and “A Year of Biblical Womanhood.” She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Rachel Held Evans.  (Source)

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Responses

  1. Dear Sister,
    I am well 490 dog years old (wharever generation that makes me And I certainly agree with this post. If fact the circle of Pastors that I fellowship with all agree and that is “If this what we see around us is what you call “Christianity” then we don’t want to be called Christian any longer!”

    It is what we have seen coming for some time. Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. For years the “church folks” have dictated what they will and willing to accept from those of us who have invested our lives in understanding Scripture aright. To which so many pick and choose to believe. And if they don’t like your telling the truth within the Scriptural context. They either shut out, or refuse to pay you etc. Sound familar?
    The spiritual differs from the religious in being able to endure isolation. The rank of a spiritual person is proportionate to his strength for enduring isolation, whereas religious people are constantly in need of ‘the others,’ the herd. The religious folks die, or despair, if we are not reassured by being in the assembly, of the same opinion as the congregation, and so on. But the Christianity of the New Testament is precisely related to the isolation of the spiritual man
    What we see on each street corner maybe two or three is NOT real Christianity it is a sham for people to “feel good about saying “I am a Christian” The younger generation is bringing back what means in the spirit

  2. Just read the bible..thats all we need to do..and the Holy spirit will come..and interpret for us…

    you said:
    We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.

    No can do…unless they are there to convert and stop sinning..God said he made them male and female…he does not lie..he does not make mistakes

    EPHESIANS 5:11 HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FRUITLESS DEEDS OF DARKNESS..BUT RATHER EXPOSE THEM…

    The path to heaven is very narrow..and very few will make it…

    I dont think the church needs to be huge…cause the Bible tells us that most will not make it…

    those whom God calls..will come..Those who love him and are of the spirit..will remain one of the living stones of the Temple of God that was made without hands…

    MEGA CHURCHES have become nests for corruption , brainwashing for political reasons…and are .controlled by the IRS ( 501C3’s).and are a convenient fast tracking for spreading false doctrine…

    Small churches..intimate group studies..I feel are far more productive..

    God Bless!

  3. So well said, Dr. Denis! I don’t want to confuse anyone or mislead though….while there are certainly some alterations that would be helpful to bringing people back to the church, there are other things that must never be compromised upon.

    We cannot compromise on what the bible actually says, the rock hard structure of the bible, God’s plan, His will, and how all of that looks laid outin the bigger picture. Unfortunately, there are lots of people working for the other side, (not God’s), who would love to confuse, degrade, trick, and destroy through a whole host of ways and they love to talk,write,and blog too.

    How do we reach out to the youth of our world and our nation, but still be who Christ wants us to be? I think it’s pretty easy, really, and I’m going to write about exactly that next!

  4. Tess,

    Missed you, you stinker.

    Now as to this LGBT thing…
    We’re to behave as Jesus did/does. We’re not to persecute the sinner or the non-believer. We can behave as God would have us, love others, and not affirm sin. I think where we get off track is when our “exposing” and “rebuking” becomes downright mean, ugly, unloving, judgmental, and just cruel. No one says we have to start partaking of homosexuality etc., either. Compassion, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, peace, joy, patience however; these are our fruit. These are how people know we are Christians. Never forget that, because if how you act doesn’t resemble these, you’re way off track. So good to see you, girlie.

  5. Wow, when I read this post, I thought “This is cool, Adrienne is changing. This does not sound like her at all! I can’t hear the Warrioress. It was so refreshing. And it wasn’t until the very end of the post that you tell us where this came from — may I suggest starting your post with that info.

    Anyway, here is my response to the post’s author:

    One of my favorite professors at Wheaton College (an Evangelical Christian college) deconverted from his Baptist (Bob-Jones, Moody-Bible, Dallas Seminary) theology to embrace Episcopal theology and practice. His name was Bob Webber — no deceased. I had a year-long course in “The History of Christian Theology” which was very eye-opening. Protestants, for the most part, are isolated from tradition due to the distorting common Protestant doctrine of “Scriptura Sola”.

    Another thing common in Protestant ideology is “me-me-me”: my emotions, my experience, my Jesus, …

    High Church traditions undermine this feel-good Protestantism where religion is proven true because it works for you. High Church tradition has everyone doing the same liturgy — everyone is the same, no special YOU anymore. No searching for feeling and trying to create the most holy prayer.

    Just reading the comments, I see that Tess perfectly illustrates the Protestantism I spoke of “Just read the bible..thats all we need”

  6. Point: reading the History of Theology and understanding what sort of folks are drawn to a high tradition vs. the Protestant traditions can be instructive.

  7. Tess is right about one thing: the bible is all we need to trust in and rely upon. The rest of the stuff is just opinion. It will soon become very clear to those who are awake, who are observing what’s going on with what Jesus told us in mind.

    It’s just a matter of time until the entire script finishes playing out. Those who believe and follow the bible will be hated and eventually done away with if they refuse the mark, etc. Real believers who won’t compromise could face death.

    We can read all we want by various authors, Sabio, but there comes a point where the believer has to simply trust in God and His word and stand firm in both. And I do.


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