08 August 2013

in which I "think with my fingers" about an article titled "Why Millennials are leaving the Church"

One recent morning at church, we were challenged not to "turn moments of ministry to moments of anger because [we] make everything about self..."**

Additionally, we heard: 
...relationships of unity and understanding are not rooted in emotion or romance {or nostalgia or any of the other "feel-good" emotions}... rather they are rooted in worship.**
And then recently, I read: 
Human beings by their very nature are worshipers. Worship is not something we do; it defines who we are. You cannot divide human beings into those who worship and those who don’t. Everybody worships; it’s just a matter of what, or whom, we serve.” ~Paul David Tripp

That first (the subsequent as well, but particularly the first) statement touches about every single relationship in and aspect of my life... if I let myself think about it and even a fraction of the implications in daily life.

While thinking about those quotes, I read an article entitled "Why Millennials are Leaving the Church..."

I see articles like that and they concern me. There's a tendency (at least in my circles) to dismiss - because of knowing of the author, knowing of that individual's perspective and of knowing that there's many areas of disagreement... But then again, I think I really should pay attention - not to determine the right or the wrong of what has been written but to get at the heart of the problem as the younger generation perceives it. I've got children who qualify as millennials - I think it is worth my effort to understand, not so that I can debate the right or the wrong, but to better prepare me for parenting my rapidly maturing and growing up young'uns.

Words like these make me start asking myself hard questions (all quotes are from the article) ~
"...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."
"...young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness." 
"...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." 
"...church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular." 
"What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance... an end to the culture wars... a truce between science and faith... to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against... to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers... churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation... friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities... 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."
My first tendency, frankly, is to "amen" whole-heartedly because that bold-faced quote at the end is what I want my church to be, that is what I'm striving for as I pray and serve and work and minister. But then I must ponder: "How is it that the church, my church, is failing to communicate this goal, that this message is at their heart as well, to millennials and others?" I take heed, because I've heard similar sentiments, coming from the youth with whom I've worked and from my own becoming young adults.

I'm asking the Lord to show me if perhaps I am, and my church is, missing moments of ministry because others only perceive our disapproval and anger at sin (which sin rightfully should remain offensive to us) rather than a genuine challenge to live a holy life in every domain. 

Is it possible that I communicate a greater weight of importance centering on emotions and impressions and traditions of what's always done rather than worshipful service to the Almighty and relationships?

What do you think?

What other questions should I be asking?

How do we confront the precious people of the millennial generation with their sin, need for a Savior and His sacrificial gift as well as His daily sustaining grace? How do I grow so that my words and action communicate authentic worship and service, even when perspectives and understandings are different?

Any ideas?

**I think the opening quotes are by Paul David Tripp, but I didn't catch (or write down) the name.

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