Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Hey Church: You Do You

I am not a millennial, but I do know a few of them. 
As I am about graduate from seminary, and I am a minister to young adults at the church where I serve, many of the relationships that I have formed over the past few years are with millennials. And I have to tell you that none of the millennials that I know - not even in passing conversation - have ever mentioned that any of the blogs that have been written about them and why they are leaving the Church hold any influence on them whatsoever.
So, we should probably stop talking about millennials like they're not in the room. It's like when you spell something in front of a toddler who you think doesn't know what you're saying, but they do. Guess what, y'all... Millennials can read and they're super savvy with social media. They’re on The Facebook, and they're on The Twitter, and all of those other Instagramy things, and whatever...my point is they can hear you! Perhaps we should talk to millennials instead of about them.

But what if the fact that millennials are leaving the Church is nothing that we can actually control? What if there is a new Reformation happening? I mean if you read Phyllis Tickles’ book The Great Emergence, apparently God has a garage sale about every 500 years. The last one that happened was THE Reformation (which happened 500 years ago, so we’re due) and the Church ended up looking a whole hell of a lot different than it had in the previous 500 years. And what if the Holy Spirit actually knows what's up and the Church is changing and instead of digging in our heels we could, I don't know, just go with it? So what if we don't have 5000 members, or 500, members in our churches anymore? What would it look like if we stopped making our church buildings, and the way we do worship, idols? What if the fact that millennials aren't going to church because it's just like the way that it has always been? Don’t most college aged people lag in attendance during their 20s? And what about the church being eternal and that whole thing about the Kingdom of God being forever and the gates of Hell not prevailing against it? ( I read that somewhere) No amount of ridiculous blogging is going to affect that in any way shape or form.

So please, for the love of the baby Jesus and all that is holy, stop with the incessant blogging about millennials! Because the truth is, people in every age demographic are finding the Church irrelevant and leaving.

So, Church I have some advice: It's like our mothers used to tell us, people will like you for who you are, or they won't. And that's ok. Just be yourself. So, let's continue to do what it is that God has called us to do. Let's stop trying to be cool, or not cool, or touting high church, or criticizing low church, or whatever for the sake of how we think it will FINALLY make millenials like us and want to be our best friends. And while we're at it, let's stop acting like we actually give a shit about millennials when what we really care about is our own job security (ahem, clergy) and maintaining the kind of church that we like.

We're running around like our hair is on fire, screaming DECLINE! Decline! Decline! Yet no one wants to do anything about decline as we seem more content to write articles about what's wrong with the Church...or more specifically what's wrong with the way someone else does church... or the way to get millennials to come to your church rather than actually engaging this demographic we feel is so crucial to the survival of the Church. Here's the truth: we don't want to change anything, so we'd rather point out what's wrong with millennials than look at our own stuff.

Maybe we could see what it is that the communities around our churches need that our churches can provide. And maybe, just maybe, that has nothing to do with millennials as much as it has to do with loving people for who they are. And maybe we should not just love millennials, but we should love Gen-Xers and we should love Baby Boomers, too. We should love octogenarians, and we should love babies. Maybe we should love our enemies, and we should love everybody with no strings attached instead of worrying about how to get people to come to our churches because that's not love... that's a mindset that that is all about preserving the museum...that's perpetuating a mindset that is all about us.

1 comment:

  1. The world hasn't changed. Everyone needs Jesus. The Holy Spirit will be the fire that brings light into the world. We are the torch bearers. KNOW Jesus. Know peace.