Empty Church

Millennials, those people aged from their late teens to their mid thirties, are “the least likely to be religious“. Furthermore, a United Kingdom poll is probably typical in finding ‘41% thought religion was “the cause of evil” in the world more often than good.’

A recent blog post by Sam Eaton gave 12 Reasons Millennials Are OVER Church.

Hard hitting, for me, was the Millennials’ weariness with mission and vision statements, the endless groups, the ineffectiveness of preaching, and the lack of actually doing stuff for the last, the lost, and the least.

Jesus has given us a mission statement and a vision statement. We don’t need to have more endless meetings and processes to create yet another (particular) community mission statement. We need to get out and DO it!

We don’t need yet another meeting, yet another programme, yet another study group. Time is precious – and we have inherited a pre-TV, pre-digital way of being church where church was our social experience and our source of news. Well the social-media generation won’t play that game.

Preaching just doesn’t reach our generation like our parents and grandparents… We have millions of podcasts and Youtube videos of pastors the world over at our fingertips. For that reason, the currency of good preaching is at its lowest value in history. Millennials crave relationship, to have someone walking beside them through the muck. … We’re looking for mentors who are authentically invested in our lives and our future. If we don’t have real people who actually care about us, why not just listen to a sermon from the couch (with the ecstasy of donuts and sweatpants)? (point 7)

Jesus’ mission would have us be the hands, feet, eyes, and mouth of caring for the lost, the last, the least – oh, and caring for the environment, the planet. Are we actually doing that? Or are people outside the church often actually doing this better? (point 3)

[Those who use the Daily Eucharistic Readings (they are in the Chapel) will have read yesterday (or for some that’s still today) Matt 21:28-32 about those who say they will do God’s will and don’t, and those who say they are not interested in doing God’s will and yet actually go and do what God wants.]

This is where I part company with the introduction to Sam Eaton’s post (clearly this introduction is written by somebody else):

Only 4 percent of the Millennial Generation are Bible-Based Believers. This means that 96 percent of Millennials likely don’t live out the teachings of the Bible, value the morals of Christianity…

Let’s leave the discussion about “Bible-Based Believers” (what are “nonBible-Based Believers”?) – but I’m going to strongly disagree that 96% of Millenials “don’t live out the teachings of the Bible”. In my experience, they often live out these teachings at least as well if not better than church-goers (the blog post editor’s “Bible-Based Believers”). And, to suggest that 96% of Millenials “don’t value the morals of Christianity” is prejudicial arrogance, just the sort of prejudices and arrogance that (rightly?) keeps Millenials from coming to church.

Two last points:

There is no mention of worship style. OK – preaching is mentioned, and it’s clear that preaching is overrated. But other than that, I’m going to stick my neck out and say that Millenials seek authentic worship – not just a show (and the hollow show-likeness can happen in every part of the Christian spectrum).

There was also no mention of a church’s online presence. Again, I’m going to stick my neck out – I think that is just taken for granted. Online is where Millenials live. They grew up with computers in their homes. “Millennials use social networking sites, such as Facebook, to create a different sense of belonging, make acquaintances, and to remain connected with friends.”

[ps. as a concrete example of the church’s lack of interest in being present in the world Millennials take for granted, and further to last week’s Online Mission and Ministry post, yesterday I was on the website of one of the most important churches in NZ Anglicanism. On this site, they give the date not of the event, but of when the information is loaded onto their website!!! So that, as just one example, it says: “Wednesday, 30 November 2016 Nine Lessons and carols” when the actual carol service is on Sunday 18th December!]

What do you think?

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