Why are Millennials leaving the church?

I have a friend who has a daughter and this daughter has Aspergers like I do. She thinks of Corrie and I as family and talks to us and recently I discovered she had given up on her Christian faith. When I asked her why she gave me pretty typical answers about science and there being no proof. How all of the miracles that get attributed to God are actually fully explained by science. I then asked her how she explains things like spontaneous remission but she shut the conversation down abruptly at that point.

I worry about her and others like her who are leaving the church in droves. They are doing it at younger ages also. I left the church in my 20s but I would never have imagined myself at 16 leaving my church, The generation of kids coming up today seem a lot different than we were. Part of me wonders why, I wonder what is going on, I wonder if the generation after this one will be even worse or if they will return to faith. I’m not the only one who is wondering, there have been blog posts written lately about why this younger generation is leaving the church. Rachel Held Evans gives some good insight from a progressive Christians perspective. and Hemant Mehta gives an atheistic view. Personally I think there are a couple of key reasons.

I think that the church as a whole has dropped the ball on the homosexual debate I’ve written about this elsewhere so I won’t into too much detail here but I believe we have put entirely too much emphasis on a subject that the bible only addresses a handful of times and most of the references are murky at best when you take interpretation into account, I don’t know whether the act of homosexuality is a sin or not and I am not too concerned about it. I know that gay people are sinners in the same way that I am a sinner, in the same way that the guys that pastor my church are sinners and we are all equally in need of Jesus. If the brokenness that infects my life isn’t enough to keep me out of communion with Jesus than theirs won’t either.

I also think that we have made a mountain out of a molehill in the science vs religion debate. Hemant says in his piece.

There’s been talk of finding a better way to reconcile science and religion. Whenever that battle takes place, religion loses.

There are some questions we may never know the answer to, but for the ones we can eventually answer, the scientific explanation will devour the religious one. Mixing science and religion requires a distortion of one or the other.

The opposite is actually true. The more that science studies the universe and our own planet the more obvious it is that there is a great deal of order and design to everything that is happening. There are structures in place that keep everything together. Just taking science at face value forgetting religion it is becoming increasingly hard to explain how and why this universe came into being and continues to function without some sort of guiding force behind it. Even most Atheists will admit that this is an amazingly complex structured universe we live in and they will marvel at how it continues to function though they will of course stop short of admitting a God.

Whenever there is a new scientific discovery made I marvel at it and I thank God for it. I’m pretty sure that I am a product of evolution and if that is the process in which God created us than that’s amazing! It probably happened over the course of sevral billion years and that is equally amazing. God is good, Christians don’t need to be scared of these things.

The biggest reason though that I believe young people are leaving church is because they don’t feel cared for. It;s not about hip music or smoke and lasers nor is it about pizza parties and pop culture references. There are real people, who have real problems, who come from broken homes and all kinds of abuse and neglect who need real comfort and real answers. They don’t need you to tell them about hell they may already be living in it. They need to be shown the love of God and told the gospel message. That’s what we’ve been called to do right? To love people and share the gospel? We need churches that are less hangouts and more hospitals. People who are committed to caring for the souls of those that attend no matter what state they are in when they arrive.

I am so thankful for The church I attend. Had I stayed with the first church I went to when I first gave faith another try I would not still be a Christian today. I needed a place where I could and work through my own shit, and I needed people who were willing to wade through that shit with me. People who would not judge but would offer companionship and friendship and patience, lots and lots of patience. That is what all of us need we need a place that wil care for us and when we are better a place in which we can care for others,

If you are a Christian, if you have a church and you are wondering how to best reach young people or anyone who may be disillusioned by church you should approach them assuming they will be just like I was. Angry, hurting and having very legitimate reasons as to why they left the faith. You need to give them time to work through it, answer their questions honestly and pray with and for them.  People no matter their sin pattern, no matter their sexual orientation should not be scared to go to church, the church should be the FIRST place they would want to go because they know they will be loved there no matter what.

These are the things I am most passionate about and the reasons that I feel like God has called me to be a pastor.

Things that have changed.

I have been a dedicated Christian for 3 years now. It has not always been easy and I’ve fought a few things but I can easily say I’ve been on this road for three straight years and couldn’t be happier about it. If you are a Christian for any amount of time there is a lot of discussion about character that takes place. It’s been one of those things that I haven’t really understood mostly because there is so much emphasis on our effort to change in many Christian circles. What must I do and not do in order to be counted as a Christian. Sadly this totally misses the mark of grace and the power of the cross. Character is important and it’s a discussion we need to have but it need not be about our own effort to change but rather how we’ve changed regardless of our effort as we have drawn nearer to God. I’d like to illustrate this by sharing some of the areas I’ve noticed changes in my life without really trying to change.

  •  I am much slower to anger: I’ve always had a notoriously bad temper especially when things aren’t going my way. I have been known to curse people out in my car when they cut me off, laying on the horn. I’ve kicked and thrown a few trash cans in my day and I’ve broken things. Not things I am proud of but a part of my brokenness. I’ve noticed, without really trying that I am a lot more patient. I’m more patient with other drivers, with general situations in life and most surprisingly I am more patient with myself.
  • Going out to have fun is much less important to me. I loved going to shows, going to karaoke, hanging out at bars and having a good time. I am not opposed to these things but it’s much more common to find me hanging out at home watching a movie with my wife or hanging with friends in their homes. I still get out to sing some but the definition of what a good time is has drastically changed recently.
  • I’m someone who can enjoy a beer, I’ve been known to advertise that face quite a bit. I’ve also been known to post pictures of me drinking a beer or some whiskey but as I’ve grown close to Christ I’ve also become aware of my influence to people I care about. I’ve got a few friends who can’t drink and I have no desire to become a stumbling block to them so I don’t talk about my drinking like I used to.
  • The way that I watch movies and TV and even listen to music has changed. I still enjoy lots of different types of entertainment but I am more apt to think about what I consume. Shows like Family Guy which I used to find really amusing don’t do anything for me anymore. It’s not that I feel like I can’t watch certain things or even that I shouldn’t but I;ve just lost the taste for crude humor.

All of these things which have changed without me working on them. They aren’t areas that I feel like if I didn’t change them I would be in trouble because such thinking again nullifies grace which is free and not earned. The Christian life isn’t about effort it’s about trust. The more I trust Christ the more he renews my character and identity into what it was always supposed to be.

 

What about you? If you are a Christian, what are some area’s that God has transformed you? If you aren’t a Christian what are some area’s that you like to see change but are having trouble?

Confession: Writing about me

I have a confession I would like to make. This might seem like a strange thing to admit but I am hoping that it will make sense. I have the hardest time writing about myself. I love writing but I mostly like sharing my views and opinions on things. That style of writing seems to come easy to me albeit the way that I write can sometimes come off as a little stiff. It’s comfortable for me, it’s something I can easily slip into. But when I write those posts, most of which I am fairly proud of I don’t get a lot of readership. Time and again I have asked you guys what you want to read about and time and again the answer is almost uniformly the same. You want me to write about myself. You guys want to see posts about what it’s like to be me and go through the day to day of being me, dealing with the things I deal with. ‘

The problem is I am not that good at writing about that.

I see most day to day life as pretty mundane, and I find a hard time making that interesting. I wake up, I come to work, I work, I go home, I hang out with my wife, I go to sleep. Sometimes there is a band practice throw in or I have something going on at church but it’s pretty basic stuff. I have a hard time making that stuff seem interesting but that’s what my readers want to read.

I think another reason I have trouble writing about myself is because my internal life, the world of my fears and dreams, is pretty messy. It’s comforting to try and put some distance between that side of myself and you, my reader. Over the years of keeping a blog I’ve shared some pretty private thoughts and I’ve regretted some of the struggles that I have shared. But on the flip side of that when I do share some of the messy parts of my life I ultimately end up helping someone. I guess it’s true that it helps to know that you are not alone in the things that you are dealing with.

I recently had the chance to preach to my family at The Village Church and my sermon was about something that is all to real to me, anxiety. As someone with autism and an anxiety disorder some level of anxiety is present in my life on a daily basis. I was candid about my issues and I was just as candid in how I feel God has address those issues in my life. It was hard to share some of that stuff but in the end my comfort wasn’t what was important what was important was that people had a real encounter with the holy spirit while I spoke and that hearts were led to repentance. If the holy spirit can used my messy life to change other peoples lives than the sacrifice of comfort is worth it every time.

So perhaps I need to work even more diligently at being more personal on  my blog, to not only share the things that I think about but to share the real and honest story of my life. The good and bad stuff. That seems to be what people want to read and that also seems to be the words that God uses to encounter others. I will try and do better at this in the future.