Why are Millennials walking away from our churches? Why are a number of our own kids walking out the doors? Why does the church seem impotent to change the direction of this rising tide?
While my wife and I are blessed to have all of our kids active in church, including our two college aged sons, who live six hours away, these are not unimportant questions to me. I feel the blow every time I hear of the child of a friend, or church member, walking away. They do not usually walk away angry. Perhaps it might be better if they did. All too often they walk away indifferent. The faith of their fathers makes little difference to their lives – or so they feel.
There is no lack of suggestions. Most of those I hear involve, in one way or another, changing the church to meet the demands of the consumers the church desires to attract, or win back. It works for McDonald’s, so why not the church? But while there are things that the church can and should do better, the problem with suggestions toward such radical change is that it mistakes the mission of the church. The church does not exist to cater to consumers. The church should certainly not create consumers – though for the better part of the past couple generations that is exactly what we have done. And now we are paying the price. “Have it your way…” worked for Burger King. But the same message has left the church impotent to reach the present rising generation.
So how do we reach those who no longer see the value of the church? That is a complex question. But one thing we ought to do before deciding any course of action is to listen to some from this generation who have not left the church, and yet who love their peers.
A recent article I read titled Why the Church Isn’t Reaching My Un-churched Friends offers a refreshingly honest and thoughtful perspective. Written by a twenty-something young lady from Louisville, Kentucky, she offers some candid critiques of both the cultural dilemma and the foolish things some – many – churches are trying in response. Her criticisms are sharp, but not unnecessarily hurtful. Her solutions: Authenticity. Christ.
While I do not propose to have the definitive answers, her suggestions are a great place to start.