It’s not us, it’s you.
As a member of the Millennial generation, I feel like I’ve gotten a bad rap. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t stumble across another article that discusses why my peers and I are leaving the Church and “destroying the conservative order.” Occasionally these pieces raise valid points, but often I am left shaking my head in utter disbelief.
The fact is, you just don’t get it.
In almost every article, we are painted as either in need of a more relevant church experience, or as Godless, secular fiends that choose sin over faith. But this is overwhelmingly untrue. In fact, I have scores of friends that are head-over-heels obsessed with Jesus; yet they, like myself, are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the Church.
What we want is not “more relevance.” For the love of God, it is not about having the best music, hippest leaders, and newest building. In reality, when push comes to shove we don’t care about those things. We are simply searching for authentic community.
If we want to attend a show, we can buy a ticket to one. Having grown up in an age of Hollywood and celebrities, we could care less about your “cool status.” In fact, we can see straight through it. What we really desire is authentic community that isn’t concerned with image. We want people who we can do life with. We want leaders that are there for us when times get hard.
We don’t need another celebrity to emulate. We need someone to stand alongside us in our everyday battles.
Millennials as a whole are more diverse than any other age group. We are comfortable with people who believe very differently than us, and can easily worship alongside them. What we are looking for is a space that is safe for us and for others. We want a place where it is okay to ask questions, and express our doubts. We refuse to draw lines in the sand and require people to check their baggage at the door before entering.
We have grown tired of the “us versus them” rhetoric that is prevalent in the church today.
What we see is a Church that’s sold itself out to politics and is more concerned with maintaining the status quo than serving the least of us. Overwhelmingly, my generation is trying to return to the roots of Christianity. We are looking for fellow believers that will practice what Jesus preached. The only people who Jesus openly condemned were the religious leaders. He ate with tax collectors, forgave the adulteress, and reached out to the very ones that society cast away. Yet the Church today speaks out against every lifestyle it deems sinful; when in reality, rather than passing judgement, we should simply be pointing people to Jesus. We no longer want to participate in pretentious, religious gatherings that leave us longing for a real connection. We want people who are willing to admit that they are imperfect and broken, and the only thing holding their lives together is the very grace of God.
We have learned that no matter how loudly we speak and no matter how strong our faith is, it’s worthless without love.
In my own life, I grew tired of the Church when I realized that it cared more about being right on a few key social issues than it did about the hurting people behind them. I grew tired of worrying about the next big thing rather than building a community. I grew tired of being taught a sanctity of life rhetoric that agonized over unborn babies but looked the other way when society abused those who couldn’t stand up for themselves.
My generation and I want a Church that doesn’t require us to trade in our intellectualism for an ideology. We want people that care less about filling schedules and more about connecting on an intimate level. We want leaders that refuse to ignore the social injustices that reduce people to commodities.
If you really want to reach the Millennials, then for God’s sake stop preaching at us and start walking beside us.