I read a really great article the other day on one of my favorite wisdom spots. I always find Relevant to be just that: relevant. I love that it’s maintained in large part by millennials. That dreaded generation of entitled, arrogant, self-serving brats that I have the privilege of being a part of. Have you watched Girls? Lena Dunham is the mastermind behind this series. She’s 28, and her character Hannah Horvath perfectly embodies what everyone hates about millennials. I’m an artist. If I work a regular job, you will break my spirit and kill my creativity. I’m not going to advocate that you watch it, per se. Maybe just read a couple of articles about it. All that being said, I think my generation is pretty cool. We grew up in Joseph-story-like years of plenty through the 90s, barreled headfirst into the lean years of the late aughts, and continue our stay in the great famine here in the tens. And yet we are thinkers. We are dreamers. We are innovators. This is true even in the Church of Christ. The stats that are thrown around about my generation being the most unchurched in recent memory are staggering. Ignite Organic Church Planting shows a quick comparison and basic overview in a pretty bite-sized way. Basically, yes, we are the most unchurched, but are we the most un-Christian?
I would assert that although cultural and social values are shifting to a more liberal norm than ever before, the Church is on the cusp of a great revival. Perhaps that revival has already begun, and we are in the pre-natal stage of the full on birth of a modern Holy Pentecost. I’m not theologically sound enough to say. But what I do know is this: my generation has very little patience for the legalism (if you like) and ritualistic comfortability of the local church. From this emotion sprouts a need to be “in the trenches” of the faith. Why sit in a pew when I can feed the homeless? Why sing hymns when I can lead a hand-raising worship in a gym or home or warehouse or whatever? Why wear a suit when I can wear jeans? Perhaps the most unchurched generation in recent memory is unchurched because they are reevaluating what church looks like.
Allow me to say this: I know whole-heartedly that Jesus loves the local church (see Matt. 16:18). Jesus was the one who established the church. Time and time again we are urged in the post-resurrection New Testament to be in fellowship with our brothers and sisters in the faith (Heb. 10:25; Eph. 4:2; James 5:16 to name a mere few). Just as God in His very nature is a communal God, He created us to be communal beings. This truth prevails: we cannot do life alone. So please, do not hear me say that being involved in a local church is not imperative. It is. It ABSOLUTELY is. But also hear me say this: church should never be something we do just because it’s what we think we’re supposed to do. That, I believe, is where my generation wants to change things. What good is worshipping out of obligation? God doesn’t desire that from us.
Herein lies where the great revival begins. It begins with a generation that has rejected the “church people” notion of worship and lifestyle. As stated in the rundown from Ignite, this generation is more interested in action and service than of getting dressed pretty to go politely sit in a pew for an hour and then go about daily life until next Sunday. The Church is called to more than status-quo, and millennials have rejected status-quo whole-heartedly in every aspect of life.
What truly excites me is that I get to be here on earth to participate in a movement away from status-quo. I speak from experience when I say that the Church is not perfect. I bet we all know at least five people who have been hurt by the Church in some way. Some of us (this writer included) can even say that we ourselves have been hurt by the Church. To that I say the following: Christ never intended His Church to be a harbinger of hurt feelings and disdain. It is us, in our human brokenness, that have allowed the Body to break. Be full of grace, as Jesus is full of grace, and take heart in knowing that things DON’T have to be that way. Fight for the Church! She is the great love of our Jesus, and she has been fiercely loved and courageously fought for. Let the great revival be both for the Church and for the lost. As good as our intentions are, we cannot leave the Church behind like a relic in pursuit of the modern Jesus. Jesus was, Jesus has been, Jesus is, Jesus will be. What He loved before, He loves now. I challenge my generation to take hold of the local church. Forgive the local church. Invest in the local church. LOVE the local church.
The article in question at the beginning of this post is entitled, “Christianity is Harder Than We Pretend it Is”. I encourage you to read it and challenge yourself to be genuine. We live in amazing times, but we also live in treacherous times. I’ll be the first to say that walking in faith is hard work. Super hard work. Sometimes, I know that I haven’t prayed all day or spent any time with Jesus, I know this, I acknowledge this, and I don’t do anything about it. We’re all friends here. I can confess that to you in great confidence that you’ll pray for me. But consider this: our Savior walked our walk. He endured what we have endured and what we could not endure. Let’s press in together. Let’s work hard. Let’s PRAY for God’s people. Let’s pray for each other. Let’s be the lack that we see in the Church. Let’s not be embittered whiners that say the Church sucks because they did this or that to me. Let’s instead stop crying and take responsibility like adults. Our resources are limitless, our technology is nearly infinite, and our opportunities abound. Even if we are the generation that lives with our parents forever while we get too much education that we probably won’t use.