This is the second part of my open letter to millennials who have left the church. In case you missed the first part you can go back and check it out here.
Your world is changing faster than you or I know what do with. Recently I went and saw the movie “Logan” with my brother. I like superhero movies, but something stood out to me in the movie. It was supposed to be the year 2029 in the movie. In one of the scenes of the movies, a boy is sitting in a chair listening to music while he does his homework. Another one of the characters asks if she can listen to his music. When he hands her the music player, I notice that it looks just like a modern Iphone. So I lean over to my brother and I say “In the year 2029 they are still just using iphone 6’s?” One “““would think the technology would change as time moves forward, but for some reason the people who made the movie didn’t think about that part.
This same mindset of change is how I have felt at times and many millennials feel regularly about the church. “The church is an institution that just isn’t as needed in society as it was 100 years ago” appears to be a sentiment that has become pervasive among large groups of people. It feels like a blackberry in an iphone kind of world. If you resonate with any of these sentiments, then I completely get it. I’ve been there at times, and I’m sure I will have times where I go back to those feelings. If these feelings have led you to drift away from church, allow me the privilege of speaking candidly and openly. I come at this from a place of kindred spirits. I have not written this letter from a place of judgment or criticism.
Slow down and listen
Every generation hates to be told by the previous generation “I understand what you are going through. I went through the exact same thing when I was your age.” When people older than you say that, you stop listening. You stop listening because people older than you didn’t grow up with the Internet. They didn’t grow up in the world you are growing up in today. It was different, and I can relate to being frustrated when people try to make it the same.
Maybe instead of throwing the baby out with the bathe water though, we can pause and listen a little to what the previous generation has to say. Previous generations walked away from the church for the exact same reasons you walked away from the faith. It was too political. It wasn’t relevant. The music wasn’t very good. Everybody was too judgmental.
All of these are reasons people have been walking away from church for years. They came back because when life fell apart and their life problems outgrew their life answers they returned to the source of all answers. They came back because they tried living life on their own, and it didn’t work out very well for them. Eventually. It might have been good for a while, but something led them to return.
We need to learn from the previous generations experience of returning. A fool learns from his own experience. A wise person learns from other people’s experience. So slow down, listen, and learn from the previous generations experience.
Jesus is still the greatest hope of the world
The source for hope and joy and life is Jesus Christ. He is still the source for answers that generations have been running back to for years, and he will still be there for you when you come back.
I know right now you are busy. I know right now the church is too political for you. I know right now your career is too important, and the causes you are fighting for are too valuable to spend time focusing on Jesus. Did you know though, that these desires you have to be relational all the time, the desire to fight for peoples rights, the desire to change the world has is roots in the way that Jesus designed you. He is the source for your convictions. He is the reason you even car in the first place.
Just imagine with me if everybody followed Jesus rule of love your neighbor as yourself. Wouldn’t our world be a better place? Wouldn’t your life be better? Now we might disagree on “how” we love our neighbor as ourselves, but we definitely would all agree we “must” love our neighbor. I know you left the church, but start by taking a step back towards Jesus. The closer you get to Jesus the more you will see that He is exactly what you have been looking for this whole time.
The church is still the bride of Christ.
Here is where the real difficulty comes in for most millennials. The church is still the bride of Christ, and Jesus never intended for you to enjoy him without his bride. Church is messy. Church is too political. Church can be too judgmental. Church can be irrelevant, but Church is still the bride of Christ. Church is still to be loved by all the followers of Jesus, and all of this messy brokenness inside the church is an opportunity for God’s grace to abound all the more.
The church needs you to come back. With so many millennials leaving the church, it feels like a part of the family is missing. The church needs your passion. The church needs your insights. Instead of running at the first sign of trouble, lean in all the more. The church has needed its methods tweaked throughout the generations, and this time is no different.
As a pastor, I don’t want the church to be irrelevant, fake, and judgmental. I desperately want people to see that Jesus is the hope of the world, and he uses the church to declare his message. The church needs your help in getting that message out, but in order to help get that message out, you have to come back
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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