This week I’ve had some discussions and read some great blog posts from the perspective of young adults and their impressions of the church.
One excellent article is this one: “a letter from an exhausted/exasperated young person who has a complicated love/hate relationship with the church” It has really generated a lot of traffic this week, I’m sure. It’s been posted all over Facebook and Twitter by many of my generation.
So, go ahead and read it, I’ll wait.
Done? Ok good.
I resonate with a LOT in that letter. I’m a minister working in a mainline traditional church that doesn’t always meet my spiritual needs. Change is hard to come by, and all the talk is about “the good old days” when everyone went to church, and the longing for the church to be exactly like it was back then. Well, it still is exactly the same, which is why it’s where it is now. Through deaths and changes in the world around the church, membership and attendance is crashing down around us.
Then I also read this article by my friend Dave, “Do We Believe?” It details his experience about talking to the upcoming leaders of the church, and their general unease and dissatisfaction with the church they feel they are being called to serve in.
As I reflected on these I came to the following conclusion.
We’ve got no one to blame but ourselves!
Seriously, no one else but ourselves!
For my generation and following, we’ve done a great job at blaming the boomers and their parents for many of our problems. Sure, most of it might hold some truth, but not all the blame needs to fall on them. The church is one place where we cannot force upon them the whole blame. We need to take ownership of our own part in letting the church erode to it’s meaningless state in society.
The point is, we claim to be great innovators, adaptable, multi-taskers with the world in the palm of our hands. People of our generation have created things our grandparents could have never ever envisioned. Yet, the church seems to be one place where we’re stuck.
Our grandparents and their grandparents, roughly 80 to 150 years ago built churches like there was no tomorrow. They opened their wallets, pulled out their tools and built churches like we create snarky Twitter accounts.
They saw something they needed, and they built it.
Now these churches leave little for us to absorb. They are “too traditional”, “too stale”, “too old”, “too dreary”.
You know why this happened, because this is what our grandparents needed as they aged. These churches were once vibrant centres of the community, but now they are meeting the needs of those who go. They are meeting the needs of worshippers who have done it all, and are now looking to slow down and look to the promises of God that they will be cared for in eternity as their mortal lives approach the end.
This is the church they need right now, and since they built them, maintain them, and run them, they deserve it.
So if you are a young adult in one of these churches, and hating it, do something about it.
Be the great innovators we claim to be. Be adaptable. Be entrepreneurial.
If all you are going to do is sit around and whine about it (I have been very much guilty of this), then you have no right to blame anyone else about the state of the church today.
If you want something, build it. It’s what our ancestors did.
Build your church, whatever that may look like. It may not be what our ancestors would recognize as a church, but make it yours. Make something that you can call a spiritual home where you can meet Jesus Christ, our Risen Saviour.
And the church that exists today, please support us any way you can. Pray for us. Offer us support, either morally or financially (or both).
We can make a difference in the world. We just need to find our place, our church home where God can speak to us, teach us, and guide us to br the next leaders, the next sharers of God’s hope, grace, love and mercy to those who need it in our communities.
In closing, I want to apologize to the traditional church for not noticing this before. I want to apologize for times when maybe I made you feel like you were failing me and not realizing this is the church you need. I ask your forgiveness and ask if you are willing to pray for me as my generation seeks to build it’s own church, something we can all be proud of as we show the world Jesus Christ is still Lord of lords and King of kings, Saviour for us all.
So, Gen-X, Gen-Y, Millenials and so on, what are you gonna do about it? This is the challenge we face today…
Where is our church? What is our church?