Dear America’s Churches: Millennials Are On to You

 

Dear America’s churches,

That seven-minute drum solo during worship last Sunday was epic.

And don’t even get me started on those snazzy unisex graphic tees. You can’t even tell that I have five slices of free pizza at youth group every week.

Oh and by the way, I finally saved that five-digit number in my phone contacts. You know—the one you have us text our Bible question answers to? Seeing as we will be using that instead of raising our hands and answering aloud from now on, I thought it’d be a wise move.

I also want to let you know that I really feel special when I get to be a little tan smudge in the background of my youth pastor’s #churchselfie every other weekend. #nofilter #blessed #so #much #love

You put so much effort into making us young people feel welcome and prioritized in the Church. So, on behalf of all millennials, I want to say thank you. And cut it out.

We Are Living in Post-Christian America

In today’s post-Christian America, many churches around the country have transitioned from fellowships of discipled Christians into religious corporations with secular business practices and “spreading the love of God” as their mission statement. Unfortunately, these churches have decided that teaching people the truth of the ScriSlide1ptures is not enough to be culturally relevant and to draw new people to the Church. So basically, we love people so much that we wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings with the truth, am I right? I’m virtually rolling my eyes in case you missed my sarcasm. These churches market to specific subcultures in their area, sometimes changing their own church culture to draw new people in. And what better way is there to spike up attendance and make the church more youthful and relevant than to market specifically to the youth? That’s right, churches. We’re on to you.

Free T-shirts Have Their Place

Now I’m not saying that all churches are falling away from the Scriptures or that it’s wrong to use some practical business knowledge to help keep your church economically afloat. But what I am saying is that if your church has a quota of reaching, say, 100,000 people for Christ, you might want to take a step back and think about where your church’s priorities truly lay. In the Bible, numerical church growth was never the ultimate goal. Success wasn’t measured by how many people came up during the weekly alter call or the amount of t-shirts sold at the church gift shop. So why is that the standard of measuring God’s work in the Church now?

Don’t get me wrong; free pizza, fun worship, alter calls, and gift shops with t-shirt sales are all great things that can be appropriately incorporated into the church environment. It’s okay to have those things in church, but when every week’s worship looks like a rave and every Wednesday night we sit around in circles and talk about our feelings or how we can see the power of Jesus Christ in the sunlight shining through the leaves of the magical happy tree or whatever, it all begins to feel just repetitive and childish.

Slide2Millennials do not want to be treated like just children. Even though we’re young, we want to be part of something big. So give us something big to be a part of! We go to church obviously expecting to hear about God. Instead, we talk about our feelings, read a Bible verse out of context, and then play foosball and Pokémon Go until our parents pick us up! Frankly, the logic of this so-called “youth ministry” is baffling. Yet this is happening in so many churches, big and small, all over the US. What we’re telling you is this: if you truly want us to mature in our faith and relationship with Christ, stop feeding us pizza and ice cream and start feeding us the Word of the Sovereign God of the entire universe. Because if you don’t give millennials something big to be a part of, we will look elsewhere. And churches, that’s on you.

 

With the most sincerity,
A Hopeful Millennial


Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12


Sarah Thielen is NETAFIRM’s student intern and is currently a sophomore at Liberty University.  Her interests include reading, animals, movies, video games, and exploring new places.

Contact Sarah directly at sthielen@netafirm.org. Contact NETAFIRM at info@netafirm.org.

NETAFIRM’s book, Saving the Saved, is available in paperback or Kindle editions at Amazon.

 

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Categories: Article.

Comments

  1. PAT LAMONT

    Sarah! how good to see your writing! thank you for your thoughtful comments, so eye opening, relevant and hopeful.

  2. Zebulon Whitener

    Im 61, was director of personal ministry in a church some years ago. The young folk approached me about starting an outreach to troubled kids they knew in school and their communities. We worked out a draft plan, they hashing over methods, goals, and means. Then we presented it to the church. To a tee, every parent objected. The kids had school. The kids might not need the influence of these troubled kids. They didn’t have the understanding to deal with or witness properly to them…etc. The hurt and offence and disappointment registers still in my mind’s eye. These young people, all teens, felt the parents stifled Gods work in them. They hurt for the teens they knew needed God so much, and wanted so much to share Him.

    This is still the problem, and all you shared to. God help the blind and yielding ground church. The luke warm church.

  3. Josh

    Really enjoyed the article but I am a little confused to why altar calls were linked together with free pizza and t-shirts. I would always consider leading young people to Christ as one of the main goals of a youth group.

  4. Tom Morrissey

    Want to be part of sonething big?
    Go with the original founded 33 AD…..
    Catholicscomehome.com
    Catholic Answers .com

    Apostolic succession to the very first pope. Peter….

  5. Mary

    As an alumni (class of ’95) I am so proud of you! My church is transitioning to reach a younger crowd, the millennial. We do not want to insult you, we just don’t understand you and how to reach your generation. So with that in mind, even though we may offer free pizza and tee’s, we are just trying to figure out how to welcome you, your generation, to our church and minister to you. We already know how to reach other generations; yours is a phenom, but we will still learn, and seek any advice you give! (Very proud of your blog and keep it up!)

  6. Terry frey

    LIKE THE DOCTRINES OF ETERNAL HELL FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT OBEY THE SCRIPTURES. AND LIVE A SEPERATED LIFE FROM SINS MENTIONED IN CORINTHIANS 6:10, GALATIONS5:19, AND REVELATION 21:8. ACTS3:19………RIGHT ON TIME MESSAGE

  7. James Holland

    I’m not sure what church(es) you attend, but I suggest you try out some others. Also, Jesus used culturally relevant illustrations, images and issues of the time to explain the truth. There is nothing new in that. I encourage you not to generalize your experience to all churches.

  8. Erik Maloy

    Thank you!! As a pastor it’s encouraging to see the younger people in our churches longing for sound teaching and holding their leaders accountable.

  9. Mack Preston

    I do understand your point of view. We are actually dealing with that in our church now. Not that it’s an issue, but that the pastor is preaching on getting back to the basics. I agree, I see churches all over that have diluted the message of the cross and catered to the social norms just to appease the culture. Warm and fuzzy will make one feel good all the way to hell. It is seen in T.V. evangelism, local and mega churches, and “Christian” colleges and universities nationwide. “We need preachers who preach that hell’s still hot, heaven’s still real, sin’s still wrong & the Bible is God’s Word” AW Tozer. Thanks Sarah.

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