Throughout history, the church has taken many forms. Recent studies have shown that the millennials have been leaving the church in a broad spectrum for the past decade at least. I believe this ‘mass exodus’ has a lot more to do with the format of the church than the faith of the individuals themselves.
Figuring out your identity
In growing up, millennials have discovered that their upbringing is not the only perspective the world has. The level of awareness in our generations is at an all-time high. This can result in a loss of trust in the context in which a millennial has been raised. So, in an effort to formulate their own opinions, adopt their own worldview and make sure that the reason for going to church is authentic, someone may end up leaving the local church they have been a part of for a while. To those who are considering this, I would encourage you to not throw out the baby with the bath water. Any ministry worth it’s weight should be open to questions – and in processing your beliefs and struggles with local leaders in your church I believe you’ll be in a better position to confidently assess the situation.
There are two sides to this one. Firstly – millennials are not the most submissive, honoring bunch of people. In a post-truth society and in one of the most un-fathered times, I have found that young people struggle more than ever to truly understand authority. Submitting under authority is a lost art, the lack of which can develop into a crippling sense of entitlement. Secondly, leadership in church is crucial. Granted, there are sometimes valid reasons why one would leave because of a leader’s conduct or doctrine. As a church leader myself; I would, however, beg everyone to take the time to address any issue like this up-front in an honoring and honest way. I recently had a young member come to me with an issue regarding our stance on grace. His assumptions were very wrong and I was able to show him that we were addressing certain things privately and that we would not announce a “blanket-statement” of judgement over people we don’t know. Just because you don’t see something happening publicly doesn’t mean that the full five fold ministry is not at work in your church. I would advise you to take the time to compose yourself; give your leaders the benefit of the doubt and always ask with the intent to understand, not criticize.
Authentic Personal Faith
Sitting in McDonald’s doesn’t make you a hamburger. In the same way, going to church does not make you a true follower of Christ. If you don’t have a personal, authentic and communal relationship with the Holy Spirit, then everything the church does will be empty, religious ritual. You can grow up attending church every Sunday but have no true revelation of the power of worship, prayer, communion or connecting midweek. Growing up there was a stage where I despised my parents’ commitment to the church. It was only when I had a personal, life-shifting encounter with Jesus that the church began to make sense to me. And when it makes sense – MAN! – it’s the most relevant place for your soul and for your world. Jesus himself said that he will build his church. He was not speaking of a physical building – he was speaking about people gathering. His desire is that he can build you up too. He wants to give you faith and hope for your own life, for you to find purpose in the atmosphere of a church where there are people that love you and love God as well. The church is only as relevant as the individuals are. The church needs you. I pray you find the power of local community. If you have read this and have a desire to discuss this further or perhaps want to be connected to a community of believers like those I have described, connect with us by clicking the button below.