As a baby boomer, I see differences between people in my generation and millennials. I am the mom of two millennials and have church conversations with them all the time. With so many millennials leaving the church, I want my kids to continue to go, but the church needs to become more relevant to their lives. And actually, to mine as well. I struggle with many of the same issues they do when it comes to church and daily living.
My husband and I have tried very hard to listen to what is happening to millennials when it comes to church attendance. We have visited dozens of churches to find ones we can worship in as well. We finally ended up in one for “grown ups” as we like to say–no cool coffee bars, no dark lighting (I like to see in church) and no people on a stage in jeans. I’m not knocking those churches. We attended one of those before we moved that was terrific. Right now, I don’t want church to feel like an entertainment venue. I want to feel the awe and be surrounded by beauty and a sense of reverence. I love the pipe organ, the cathedral ceiling, the elevated pulpit for reading the Word. Thus, when we moved, we have returned to a very liturgical church that preaches from the Word. And we aren’t so different from millennials who are looking for something bigger and more sacred than being entertained on Sunday morning.
When I came across Rachel Held Evans blog on why millennials are leaving the church, I felt like she nailed it. Like me, millennials have plenty of opportunity to be entertained during the week and don’t want church as another performance to attend. They want to find Jesus, and feel like so much of what happens in church, misses Him. It is the substance of the church that needs changing, not the style.
According to Rachel’s blog, millennials want a church that…
1) Ends the culture wars
2) Calls a truce between science and faith (I’ve personally never understood the debate since God created all things. Science only confirms what He has created!)
3) Tells us what we stand for, not what we stand against (How about more on love, unity and reconciliation).
4) Where asking questions doesn’t always result in predetermined answers. With my kids, I haven’t found easy answers but we go back to Scripture and try to apply it to today as well as look at the life of Christ.
5) Isn’t politically focused, but Kingdom focused. Can I get an AMEN on that one!
6) Isn’t American centric and considers the importance of all nations. This doesn’t mean we don’t love our country, but we are not the center of the Universe.
7) Welcomes LBGT friends. I would add, loves them like Christ already does.
8) Expands holiness beyond sexuality and considers it in relation to the poor, oppressed, creation care, peacemaking and reconciliation.
I suspect, as Rachel notes, that you don’t have to be a millennial to resonate with this list. And please don’t misunderstand, I am not knocking churches that have an informal style, but substance matters. Ina world that is filled with uncertainty, I want my family to know Christ above everything else. How we present Him to all generations is important.