Millennials And Church Leadership
I remember being 20 something. I remember being 30 something. Those were some of the most frustrating years of my life. I honestly thought I knew it all. 20 plus years later, I still don’t know it all but at least I stopped thinking I did.
Recently I read an article by another Millennial passing on a mantra that has been passed down since time immemorial from one generation to another. It is another rendition of “the sky is falling and you need to listen to us”. Just listen to this rendition.
Being on the other side of the Exodus sucks, don’t it?
I see the panic on your face, Church.
I know the internal terror as you see the statistics and hear the stories and scan the exit polls.
I see you desperately scrambling to do damage control for the fence-sitters, and manufacture passion from the shrinking faithful, and I want to help you.
Source: John Pavlovitch – Church, Here’s Why People Are Leaving You.
I have to remind myself that I was that full of myself at that age as well.
I am not panicked. Our church is growing including kingdom growth of new believers.
I am not filled with terror. I have never made decisions based on exit polls. I see the fiasco of that tactic in Washington D.C. on a regular basis.
I am not doing damage control. In fact, I will probably tick off quite a few people with this article.
I don’t get my identity from man. My concern is to hear the words of Jesus at the end of my life that says “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
So Millennials, since you have taken it upon yourself to correct all the perceived ills of the church, I am going to inform you why we are not listening to you.
Millennial Whining Has Worn Thin
You complain about the Christian show, the lights, the stage, the video screens. You say it is all white noise. Your whines are becoming white noise to us. Why? Because you don’t put your money, your talent, your energy, and yourself into the solution.
At age 28, I had finished school and wanted to serve Jesus as a pastor. I went to my local church and heard these words. “You might as well sit and wait until you are 40 because they won’t listen to you until you are that age.”
Did I whine? Did I complain? Did I write a column in the local newspaper? (The equivalent of blogging in that day)
I went and rented a warehouse, called all my friends and family, put an ad in the newspaper which also got me some free press since nobody had ever started a church in a warehouse and used rock and roll music as worship music in that town, and I started a church!
So my advice to you? Put your money where your mouth is. Put up or shut up. If you want us to respect you and listen to you then start paying the same type of prices that we paid.
Millennials Speak With A Forked Tongue
You whine about Christianese. You complain that the church uses words that you do not understand and it makes you feel alienated.
We find it a little disingenuous (hypocritical for those of you that didn’t pay attention in school) to be totally fine with learning how to work your latest smartphone application, (otherwise known as app) in techenese, or complain to your BFF (best friend forever) in textenese about how hard it is for you to understand Christianese.
I did not grow up in the church. I gave my life to Jesus at 16. I did not know what baptism was but I learned.
I did not know what sanctification was, but I learned and experienced it.
I did not understand what being Spirit-filled was, but I learned and experienced that too! All without the church changing its language.
If you want the church to listen to you, then you need to start showing some initiative on your own.
Instead of demanding that the church change its lingo, how about you taking a little responsibility in learning yourself just like you did with text messaging and smartphone apps?
Before You Complain About The Vision Of Church Leadership Get One Of Your Own
You whine that the church only wants to get butts in the seats of their building.
You say that the church is not the building but the people.
Then doesn’t that mean you?
If you want us to respect you and your vision, then do it! Stop whining that the church is only interested in attracting people to a building and start doing what you say we are lacking in doing!
In every church I have pastored, we have had a food bank to help the needy.
We have reached out with kindness outreaches to show people the love of God with no strings attached.
I seem to remember something Jesus said about taking the plank out of an eye first.
If you want us to listen to you, then stop whining and start doing.
No one is stopping you.
Or are you waiting for somebody to give you a permission slip?
I thought you were adults!
Millennials Are Afraid To Fight
If you want our respect and a voice at the table then you have to quit worrying if the world likes you and start fighting for the faith that was faithfully delivered to you. (Jude 1:3)
You are more concerned with feelings than truth.
Even in the article, I referenced above, the author makes a comment later.
I’m saying that thousands and thousands of people are saying that they hear THEIR story in this piece.
That makes it valid.
I don’t need justification to share my heart, as it’s mine.
You have replaced the foundation of our faith with feelings and your heart. That is a deceitful and fickle foundation and one that we refuse to accept.
It is NOT the foundation of the Christian faith.
A person’s story although important to them is not something to base our faith on. Nor is the heart. (Jeremiah 17:9)
We have battle scars.
Earn a few yourself before you demand a voice at the table.
Millennials Confuse Love And Acceptance With Affirmation And Agreement
Once again you whine that the church does not love you.
You make a list of all the ways it has loved you imperfectly including things like doctrinal agreement, tattoos, and cussing, political affiliation, etc.
Once again you equate love with affirmation and agreement.
It makes me wonder if we blew it by not spending enough time with you when you were children and thus you do not feel we affirmed you as children.
Regardless, the fact remains that love and acceptance are not affirmation and agreement. I can love you and accept where you are without affirming things that are contrary to scriptural teachings and I definitely can love you without agreeing with you.
Which comes to my final point.
You are the ones that have made love conditional.
You have demanded that we, the church who has paid the price, who have put our money where our mouth is, who has been doers of the word and not whiner’s only, change or you will stop loving us.
Yes, that is right!
The church is filled with imperfect people. Families are filled with imperfect people.
My parents loved me. They did not always show it perfectly. Neither has the church.
However, they are my family and I love them back.
Think about this…. What type of love leaves because love is not shown perfectly?
Is it not hypocritical to demand perfect love when you yourself do not or cannot love perfectly yourself?
It is easy to say love one another while staying home and watching TV or playing a computer game or having a picnic in the park.
It is hard to love people face to face.
You see the call to love one another is not just for the church but for those Millennials who are leaving because they are not being loved perfectly.
Christ is the head of the church and the church is His body. I would like to challenge you that you cannot really love the head, and abandon the body.
If you are going to point fingers at the church for not loving you, then realize that you have 3 fingers pointed back at you for not loving the church and deciding to leave instead.
If you want to have a voice. If you want to be heard. If you want our respect, then love the whole church, not just the parts that you agree with and feel loved by.
Love is not an emotion. It is a choice.
If Millennials Want To Be Heard By Church Leadership Then They Need To Do This
Finally, my young friends remember this.
1 Timothy 4:12
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity
If you do this, then you will earn that voice and respect. If you are not willing to do this like those before you, then, by all means, go ahead and have your mass exodus.