176) Give These Young Folks What They Want

From a blog entitled Why Millennials are Leaving the Church by Rachel Held Evans. To see the full article and more by Rachel Evans, go to http://www.rachelheldevans.com

     …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 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!”…

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     Author Dan Kimball noticed the beginnings of this cultural shift ten years ago in “Emergent Church.”  In an attempt to reach the unchurched in Santa Cruz, California he assembled focus groups.  He took them to different church environments.  He found consistently that young adults wanted a church that was “churchy.”  Ancient.  Quiet.  Solid.  Holy.  A place unlike the world.  A place of “otherness.”  Those things whisper stability in an unpredictable, ever-changing world.  Kimball’s young adults were actually surprised that the older crowd preferred “relevant model” churches.  Their take:  “If I want to go to the mall, I’ll just go.  I want church to be church.”

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John 12:20-22  —  Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival.  They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”  Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5  —  And so it was with me, brothers and sisters.  When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

Acts 16:29-31  —  The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.  He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved— you and your household.” 

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 Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.

–The ancient, simple, Jesus prayer

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church, Ashfield, New South Wales.