You got a progressive, congregational church or you don’t. Maybe yours is old-fashioned, with uncomfortable wooden pews and stained-glass windows, a massive organ at the front and a pit for the choir behind.
Every week, 50 or more believers gather and listen to the minister preach from scripture. Maybe your church sings a lot — the choir is talented as ever and the songs – classics.
Every week, there’s a few minutes set aside for folks to shake hands with others and a basket gets passed around for tithes. Members of the congregation ask for specific prayers, and the everyone listens and claims to pray for them.
But what if a man asks for prayers for his brother’s husband — ut oh, the LGBT issue is front and center, what do you do? Do you scream hell or punishment? Do you pray for them? Someone’s getting an abortion, how do you address it? Church used to be clear on these issues but not so loving. The youth want to know where does your church stand on the issues of today?
Many youth don’t feel your church is ready to deal with todays world, so they don’t visit your church and they don’t ever intend to. Does your church offer what millennials are looking for?
It’s no secret that in America that organized Christianity is going through a crisis.
The number of self-identified Christians is at its lowest point ever, at around 71 percent. This trend is most noticeable among millennials and congregations have been struggling to put em back in the pews.
Churches try in many different ways, most of em ineffective (hosting performances by Christian Rap or Trap groups), some hilarious hashtags (#JesusLives) and a few downright sad (like listing guidelines for churches to achieve what he calls “The Cool Factor.”)
So what were they missing?
Many youth are simply not interested in church, organized religion or religion in general. But there are huge numbers of millennials that are open to organized religion, and in fact are yearning for a church that they feel comfortable devoting their time and spiritual energy towards. But they want it to mean something. They want more than just a group of people to sing songs and hold hands with. Those millennials that are open to such things are the same ones who are active and engaged in the world around us, which, unfortunately for mainline denominations, includes politics.
Millennials are not interested in a celestial Jesus with a permanent smile and open arms, unconcerned with the goings-on of planet Earth. They’ve heard about that Jesus their entire lives, and they’re not buying it.
Do you know what millennials would buy? Jesus the man, Jesus the prophet, the Jesus that fashioned a whip of cords and overturned the tables of the money changers for making God’s house a den of robbers. The Jesus that challenged the establishment and paid the ultimate price. The Jesus that took up the cross of the poor, the weak, and the marginalized in the name of God.
Many spend an hour and a half at church week after week and the name “Jesus” isn’t mentioned a single time. I think it’s safe to say…that’s not good!
They’re all for love and a personal relationship with God, but they choose to follow the man who teaches that political action is worship, that social justice is love.
What millennials are looking for is a church that preaches not just transcendental love, but that prophetic fire and love for the common man that makes Jesus so appealing.
A church that stressed this aspect of the faith would be dangerous, to be sure. It would even come off as somewhat divisive to the unspiritual. It might not even work as the long-lasting most popular denomination. But the inconvenient truth is that all of those attributes feel a lot like the Jesus of the bible!