Back in late July I read an article by Brett McCracken written for the Washington Post. In the article he talks about the church and the effort within the church to “bring back Millennials”. He makes some really good points.
For example he notes that…..
Erik Thoennes, professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Biola University, is troubled by the church’s obsession with perception.
“We’ve got experts who tell us ‘this is how pagans think about us, Oh no!’ and we wring our hands and say ‘we’re so lame!’” said Thoennes. “This perception-driven way of doing things will make you go crazy. We’re junior highers. Junior highers live in this world of ‘how am I being perceived’ all the time. Oh to be free from that!”
Wow. In the effort to be “seeker sensitive” have we in church leadership allowed ourselves to become like Junior High girls? As one on the inside I would have to say that in many cases the answer is “yes”.
McCracken thinks we should consider the question of….
for pastors, church leaders, and others so concerned with the survival of the church amidst the glut of “adapt or die!” hype, is asking Millennials what they want church to be and adjusting accordingly really your best bet?
Are we really to believe that today’s #hashtagging, YOLO-oriented, selfie-obsessed generation of Millennials has more wisdom to offer about the church than those who have thought about and faithfully served the church decade after decade, amidst all its warts, challenges and ups and down?
One thing I have been learning by working in a secular job as well as ministry for the past 10 years is that we in the church often assume things about the “un-churched” that may not be completely true. Yeah, young people often do look at us veterans as being a bit lame and/or out of touch. At the same time — I have often experienced the 20-something co-worker sitting down with me in the midst of a life crisis asking serious questions and looking for answers that will work.
Perhaps we veteran disciples sell ourselves ways to short in the arena of ideas. Not every new idea the 20-somethings have is a good one. Not every idea we had as 20-somethings was a good idea. (for example – disco?).
If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that ‘cool Christianity’ is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don’t want cool as much as we want real.
Real. Authentic. Relational. Beyond the performance and into the living rooms and coffee shops of life.
One of the points in McCracken’s article that is most telling is this:
He says that,
The line that I saw shared on Facebook more than any other is this:
“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.”
Don’t find Jesus in church. Sadly, I have been there. I once served on the staff of a church that was fairly cool. We even had a Tuesday service that “catered” to the college age. The minister who led this cool service later became Senior pastor. The church took on a whole new level of “coolness”. Fog machines and light effects for every service. Saying all the right words — using the hippest new phrases.
People left in droves. The church declined quickly.
Perhaps Jesus got lost in the fog?