A friend posted a link to this article on Facebook. It’s always nice when somebody else does a great job at saying things you wish you could say, but for some reason can’t get out coherently on your own. It’s nice to know that other people are feeling this frustration too. Here is the article, and my thoughts follow directly after:
I am 23 years old and I go to church.
I am rare.
In fact, many of my closest friends are not involved in church at all.
Some of my friends simply don’t believe in the Christian faith. Others call themselves Christians, but church is just not a necessary part of their lives.
By now, it is no secret that my generation, or “Millenials” as we are called, is largely unchurched. There has been an extensive amount of research on the issue, and churches have made extensive changes to combat the problem.
Changes often include ridding of choir robes and organs in exchange for skinny jeans, drums, and fog machines.
But still, why are so many of my friends anti-church?
I grew up in the church my entire life, so when I went away to college, finding a church was at the top of my priorities. Unfortunately, finding one didn’t come easy. For a while, I found myself in the same category many of my friends are in. I loved Jesus, but I simply did not have a desire to be a part of the churches I was visiting.
And I visited every type of church. From traditional to “hip”, from small to big. I didn’t want to join any.
My reasoning was simple and it came down to one word.
Nothing seemed authentic.
Don’t get me wrong; I was full of teenage/twenty-something know-it-all cynicism and arrogance, I am sure. Churches are definitely not the sole problem. People are the problem. Because people are sinners-the church going ones and the non-church going Millennials.
But despite the associated arrogance, I truly think my generation is on to something in our desire for authenticity.
You see, the hardest years of my life came in college. For a while, it seemed like every week brought a new disaster that I had never faced before. As one event piled on top of another, I became a mess. My usual happiness turned to sadness, my usual good decisions turned to bad decisions, and my usual faith turned to nothing but questions.
I desired to be a part of a church that got it.
That got my struggles. My sin. My doubts.
All I wanted when I entered the doors of church was to find people who would bear my burden and remind me of whom God was, because quite frankly, I wasn’t sure anymore. Unfortunately, so many times, it seemed like the God people were pointing to was one that would want nothing to do with me and, if I was being honest, I didn’t know if I wanted anything to do with him.
Either everyone was really happy all the time with no problems, or they were being fake…and I was in no position to play the Fake Game.
In fact, I don’t think my generation in general wants to play the Fake Game when it comes their desire to find and know God.
We’ve played the Fake Game enough. The Fake Game surrounds us in advertisements, tweets, and Facebook profiles. When it comes to seeking God, we don’t want to play anymore. We want to find Him.
We want to ask questions.
Voice our doubts.
Explain our struggles.
Confess our sins.
Confide our fears.
And we want the church to do it with us.
We want Pastors to admit their weaknesses.
Leaders to confess their sins.
Sunday School classmates to confide their struggles.
A church to recognize its shortcomings and rely joyously on God’s grace.
We don’t just want church-goers and pastors to hang up their suits and ties for t-shirts and jeans because its “cool”. We simply want people to be who they are Monday through Saturday on Sunday, too.
We want to come to God as we are.
And we want to be a part of churches full of people who do the same.
Because that is the Gospel we are interested in. And the cool thing is…that really IS the Gospel.
If you want to reach my unchurched friends, it’s simple.
You be you. Really.
And let God be God.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
When I go to church, I feel so much pressure to change *me*. And I know that there are a lot of things about *me* that do need to change, no argument there. But when you go to church and – no offense to those I have attended with – you leave feeling like everyone else is changing, has changed, is maintaining some higher level of belief and behavior…that can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, emptiness. Am I asking people to admit their imperfections to me? No! More like, I want people to embrace *my* imperfections, which are a part of *me*, and help me to feel like I’m not the only screw-up in the room. To be clear, I have felt that way in the past…I have worshiped with some amazing people who have done this for me and others, and I’m grateful to know them!
Is this a selfish thing?