I recently posted a link on Facebook to an article by Rachel Held Evans. In fact, I thought the findings in the article were so well-stated that I posted it on two different days just to get maximum audience attention
This morning, I was directed to another article in the Washington Post that is a reply to the earlier mentioned article. Before going any further, I encourage you to read both articles in their entirety as they both bring some great points to light.
Already this morning, I have had numerous people ask me for my opinion on the two articles so here goes. I wasn’t crazy about some of the solutions Rachel Held Evans offered for why millennials are leaving the church, but found that many of the questions raised were very much in line with the work we do at Intentional Ministries. The truth is that the church is failing to reach those between the ages of 17 – 40 in a consistent and effective manner. That gap is not only widening in age range, it also getting deeper in terms of sheer numbers not involved in the church. We need research and questions like this article presents!! At the same time, we need answers that are grounded in Biblical truth not social desires and relativism.
The second article may be guilty of “throwing the baby out with the bath water”, but makes some excellent points as well. In particular, the author correctly takes on the notion that the church should look to millennials look for direction. However, there is an inherent flaw in the conclusion that millennials should look to church leaders for direction; basically the fact that millenials have little connection to church leaders and that church leaders have failed to reach millenials isn’t exactly a sign of expertise. Both author’s conclusion are equally one-sided and errant in their conclusions.
So what are we to do? We need both sides engaged in conversation with each other and working together for solutions that are in line with Biblical teaching. At the same time, we need church leaders to spend less time preaching about the love and grace of the gospel to the congregation while preaching justice, truth, and accountability to the world – and more time preaching justice, truth, and accountability to the congregation so they can individually live the love and grace of the gospel in the world. The “church” (as represented in these articles) was never intended to be the instrument for reaching the world. It is to be an equipping fellowship for believers that trains individuals to go into the world and live for the glory, fame, and renown of Jesus Christ!!! Such an entity is not directed by social whims in it’s practices, but is aware of social trends so that better equipping takes place.
Finally, while I think much of the content of both articles is excellent for raising awareness of current issues within the church, I am troubled that both authors offer only strategic solutions and not spiritual ones. While weneed to examine systemic and strategic approaches, the truth is we need something far greater, far deeper, for more complex, far harder to attain, and far more dangerous. We need brokenness. We need to first be broken over the sin on our own lives and then broken not for the sin in the world, but for the lost in the world. Without brokenness, we will never have humility, and without humility, we will never have revival.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14