I’m not a fan of the above articles, or the dozens of others like them- and I’ve posted my explanation below. But when you see secular articles telling the church what it needs to do to keep young people happy- red flags should go up. Telling the church to make all these adjustments, so that unspiritual people are more ‘satisfied’ really undermines the purpose and integrity of the church itself. The church isn’t here to meet our selfish needs. We are here to selflessly fulfill the needs of the church. That difference, is really the fatal flaw of the modern church. Folk thinking Christianity is about God serving us, when it’s really about us serving God…
(Mark 10:17-27; 2 Timothy 4:3) We can’t blame a lack of commitment to Christ, on anything other than a lack of commitment to Christ. Millennials are leaving because following Christ is a matter of discipline, brokenness and sacrifice. And we live in a culture where, like no time in the past, self-entitlement and ‘freedom’ are the order of the day. Giving things up for a greater purpose is so ‘five minutes ago’. These articles elude to it. They ‘disagree’ with biblical mandates concerning sex, the church (essentially with all its rules and regulations) is stagnant and irrelevant. They’re successful now, and don’t need as much- so the church is no longer ‘necessary’, and so on.
The common theme in all this is a self-serving nature that isn’t being corrected. And churches that are desperate to fix this (and keep members) aren’t addressing the need for brokeness. They’re simply trying to accommodate this me-first, greedy, self-centered (instead of Christ-centered) mentality of spiritually immature millennials.
The result is a generation of counterfeit churches that focus more on the glory of its members than the Glory of God. Self help sermons about success and wealth. Catchy cliches and rock star performers, etc. God is no longer being glorified- and people are no longer growing, or maturing. They’re being pacified and entertained. In hopes of keeping them happy…
At the end of the day, the church needs to stand on the word- and for goodness sake, be willing to be unpopular. Stop pandering and catering to the selfish ambitions of unsaved people, and let Christ preach Himself. Only the Word itself saves and delivers. Everything we do to ‘help it along’ is smoke and mirror distraction.
Preach the unadulterated gospel in a language everybody can understand, and resist the urge to dirty up the word of God- so that dirty people will like it more. In other words- don’t secularize the gospel to appeal to people who don’t want God as He is, but rather want Him on their terms.
These people don’t want to give anything up. And if the church wants to retain them, the church has to give everything up. But at the end of the day- church ain’t about what it can do for you. It is a place we go, to do what we can for God. When we lose that, trying to satisfy carnal millennials, the church compromises it’s integrity.
Millennials (and their parents, grandparents, and beyond) are simply leaving the church in fulfilment of prophesy. “For the time will come when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” (2 Timothy 4:3). This is not the fault of pastors or their congregations. It’s just humanity following the predictable course of self-indulgence, just like God said. The great ‘falling away’ has begun. Ultimately, God will prevail. There’s no need to panic. As long as the sincere disciples of Christ remain focused, we will prevail.
Hang in there.