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William and Rebecca VanDoodewaard wrote that Young Evangelicals are Getting High on their blog, The Christian Pundit; my friend from the world wide inter-web, Fr. Matt Marino, wrote about the phenomenon on his blog, The Gospel Side, in posts entitled What’s so Uncool about Cool Church and Solving the Millennial Catastrophe; and most famously, Rachel Held Evans, who is fast becoming the voice of young, restless, evangelicalism, wrote about it in a commentary entitled Why Millenials are Leaving the Church for CNN’s Belief Blog, and in her own blog with the post 15 Reasons I Returned to Church.

All of these posts have a common theme: Young adults are leaving contemporary, seeker-friendly church settings for a spiritual setting that they feel has more depth and substance. I wrote about the future of the American Church a while back in a post entitled Return to Liturgical Practices: Here to Stay? and The Evangelical Response to Growth in Orthodox Denominations, making some predictions, particularly stating that I believed that worship was going to have a more sacramental/liturgical/historical flavor over the next twenty years.

I agree with what the VanDoodewaards, Fr. Matt, and Rachel Held Evans are saying, not because I’ve studied the statistics…although the stats do back up the idea that millennials are seeking out deeper spiritual waters, and finding them in liturgical settings. I agree because I’ve seen it in practice. I see it in myself, and in others I know. I read and taught the CEO, John Maxwell model of “doing church” and the Andy Stanley “Seven Checkpoints” method for “doing Christianity” for years, but it was Robert Webber’s “The Younger Evangelicals” that spoke to my heart. He saw this coming 30 years ago, but the church growth consultants and Christian leadership gurus looked the other way, and ignored his voice, in favor of selling a neatly packaged, palatable, systematic, comfortable brand of worship that was designed to entertain us.

Many people have come to know Christ because of the post-modern, seeker friendly brand of Christianity. I won’t argue that. I fear that many have also made an idol of music, building programs, and the “bigger is better”, numbers-driven mindset. The SBC became so concerned with the idea that it’s the packaging that matters most, they even changed their name, now calling their organization “Great Commission Baptists”. In recent years, they’ve developed an idea called “church-replanting”, where they take a failing church, change its name, get a younger pastor who doesn’t tuck his shirt in and wears that microphone thing like Usher that runs from his mouth to his ear, even though we can hear him just fine without amplification, and call it “re-imagining church”. The message is, “We’re not church for old people. We’re young, hip, and we get you. We look like you, talk like you, and we’re not stuck in the red hymnal from 1978. But we’re not doing Beer and Hymns, okay? Don’t push it too much.”

The problem here is, what will the Church do when the fads change? Shift again? As we exit the era of bleached blond spiky haired youth pastors, worship dance, and song leaders prescribing our emotions to us during the slow song portion of their set, and we enter into “the next big thing”, where we throw out our outdated projectors and video screens in favor of a 2D or 3D absentee pastor, church via Tumblr, or worship twerking (I haven’t seen it, but I promise you, there is a youth pastor out there who is thinking about it…), are we going where we should be as the Church, or are we missing the point altogether?

?????????????Rachel Held Evans is such a compelling figure in today’s young adult Christian world, following in the footsteps, I believe, of Donald Miller, Anne Lamont, Brennan Manning, and Rich Mullins. She’s not afraid to ask questions. She’s not frightened to be transparent and tell us what her doubts are. She’s unashamed of her own shortcomings, and willing to discuss where she believes the Church has failed her (and us), and where she (and we) have failed the Church.

In my parents’ generation, the voice of Christianity was Billy Graham, who told us the truth of the Gospel, and reminded us with gentle strength and conviction that we needed it. Today, we’re a people of blurred lines between want and need. I waver daily between thinking I want to win the Power Ball, and that I need it so badly, I’ll never be happy if i don’t win it. Matters of faith and the Church are included in this mix. We know what we want, and therefore, we think we need it. Just like Eve looking at the apple on the tree, saying how God has forbidden it, thinking how sweet it must taste. Just like Adam looking at the apple in Eve’s hand, knowing how badly he wants a taste, understanding that taking a bite will violate his most loving relationship. Just like both of them, savoring the sweetness of the fruit, pondering its poisonous nature, wanting to be like God, to the point that they thought they couldn’t do without it…They confused want and need.

I think the thing about Rachel Held Evans that captures our attention is not that she gives us what we want. It’s that she has discovered something, like Graham, a void deep inside of all of us that is aching to be filled: a need.

I’ve experienced shallow. I need deep.

I’ve done church that tries so hard to be culturally relevant. I need culturally irrelevant.

I’ve been down the worship road that shifts and changes according to fads. I need pattern and ritual that is sincere, and stands the test of time.

I live in a world that throws uncertainty at me every day. I’ve survived through bankruptcy, job loss, divorce, and churches that change staff members constantly. I need stability.

I don’t dislike contemporary worship. My family attends the contemporary worship service at 8:30AM at our church. I mourn that our church is divided over music, though. I miss seeing some of the faces that attend the traditional 11:00AM service. Some of them are people who taught and mentored and guided me through life and faith: my minor league baseball coach, my elementary school Sunday School teacher, and several older family members, including my older brother. I love these folks, and I love worshiping with them. I miss worshiping with them.

I need multi-generational worship. I need to see my older brethren lifting their hands and praising God, and i need my baby girls to witness that, as well, and follow their example.

I need less music, and honestly, a little less preaching. I’m okay with a 15 minute, 1 point homily.

I need a liturgy by which to worship. My life is crazy. I never know when my job will give me a 2:00AM call, and I’ll have to crawl out of bed to tend to some crisis that isn’t my own. I need order.

I need responsive Psalms. I need to hear God speaking to me, and to voice my replies. I need to be engaged in conversation with the object of my faith.

I need to say the Creed, to remind me of what i believe, and that I am bound together with a group of people who are different from me in many ways, but united in some basic beliefs that connect with a spiritual DNA that can’t be severed. I need to say that I believe in forgiven sins, to remind myself that the concept is reality, in Christ. I need surety for a debt I can’t pay.

I need less Ten Commandments signs for my yard, “anti-” this and that rallies, and political preferences stated in the Church. If I’ve truly been raised from the dead, then I need to celebrate that, and learn how to live a resurrection life.

I need a more frequent Communion table. I need that refreshment for my soul. I need that moment of quiet with the body and blood of Christ, where I can pour out my sins, and He offers me Himself, fully and free, in exchange. Not a fair trade. But I’m not looking for a fair trade. I’m looking for peace: peace within myself, and peace with God.

I need to pray corporate prayers so that I’ll know that I’m not the only messed up individual in the church house. I need to hear the perfect looking couple in front of us saying, “Forgive us our trespasses…”, so that I know they likely have fights over who’s going to wash the dishes and change the diapers, just like us.

I need the benediction. I need to stretch out my hands, and receive something to take home from the worship service. I don’t want to remember that my pastor drove a Ferrari onto the platform during worship to make a sermon point or to preach about sex while lying in bed to capture my attention (Thanks, Ed Young. You captured my attention, even though I didn’t want to give it to you…) I need a promise of Scripture, a blessing, a command to do good, and do no harm, and to love God ringing in my ears, right up until the moment that I can walk back into the church-house again.

I need a church, The Church, to stop pandering to what they think I want, and to give me what I need.

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