Thursday, August 15, 2013

Now you get 'juice bars and skinny jeans’ at church. Seriously? That’s all you heard?

Posted by Hannah at 8:35 AM

I resist being called a "Millennial." #generations (cc: @sarahwb)
The church claims they hear the Millennial generation, but are they listening?  They haven’t been listening for generations now!  Sadly, they just think they are.

I’m NOT a millennial, but I would be guilty of the generation that gave birth to them.  Yet, I can understand their complaints.  Our generation raised complaints, and we were ignored and spoken down to as well. 

I realize some of the older generation – like mine – will throw out the stereotype about the generations ‘issues’.  WELL all generations had them, and some young people walk away from church….and come back when children are born. 

Once they leave again after that?  Chances are pretty good its not over all the labels or issues that the present generation is handed.  Its normally MUCH larger than that.  To me?  That’s where they miss the boat…

Things have been going downhill since the 1980’s – if not sooner.  I guess its our children’s chance to have a running start, and bang into that brick wall now. 

Acknowledge and Deal with the Changes in Culture

When you don’t listen to the millennial generation’s parents?  You can be pretty much secure in knowing their children will figure it out as well.  Problems don’t go away when you ignore them, but tend to get worse.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

In the present culture you have the internet, and in my generation you had the start of cable tv (when I was teen I believe).  Our worlds were starting to open up, and come to find all the messages you told us about being the ONLY one that felt that way?  Hmm.  I guess NOT so much!  That’s why we are questioning you….

Your words had power when we were isolated, but now that the world as opened up?  We find others that realize some of the things you say don’t make sense either. 

For me personally at times the church’s viewpoint was almost superstitious. You need to keep sheltered, because otherwise you will be contaminated.  That doesn’t say much for our strength in faith.

You have to act a certain way, dress a certain, worship a certain way…so as we see it the church created an environment at times that made people compelled to hide sin.  You can’t show that ‘contaminated’ side.   If you point that out?  We were told this church attitude isn’t there, and we are seeing things or making things up so we can sin.  It’s a smoke screen!

You ask about WHY we are leaving, and we tell you.  Then you blame us for our answers.

Rachel Held Evans wrote a article called, ‘Why millennials are leaving the church’.  She got the response that is expected. 

How people overly critical, and you need to learn to love us anyway.
We are important.
Our way is important.
You need to see that.

But I don't think Evans and other Millennials are leaving the church because they don't find Jesus. My suspicion is they're wagging their fingers at the church because they don't find the Jesus they want. Evangelicalism certainly isn't flawless. However, I think Evans' claim that Jesus is absent from "the church" is absurd. Not only is it theologically false, it's a slap in the face to Christ's bride, a purely rhetorical statement that simply provokes controversy rather than fostering Christian unity. - The Church Is a Harlot, But I Love Her

Don’t feel bad Millennials!  We were told we wanted our ‘ears tickled’. 

Today it seems like church can be an infomercial!   They want to FIREPROOF you, and here on some addons that you might enjoy!  The study book, the posters, the online petition to show your agreement!

(Although you don’t feel that FIREPROOFING method towards the Millennial’s do you?)
but wait there's more
Don’t get into that?  We have all kinds of material that cover ‘feeling-logy’.  It reminds you to fill your spouse’s love tank, guilt them that you don’t feel the ‘love and respect’ that your ‘gender’ should get UNconditionally.  Did they mention the audio workbook, and their seminar coming to a town near YOU?! 

Just throw in a bit of confusion to keep you guessing? (snickers) The old stand by, “Love is not a feeling!”  Okay.  I guess respect isn’t either right?

OH!  Make sure you find that newest and bestest ‘clic’ group to PLUG into!  Can you just SEE Jesus all around US?!

That’s your version of modernizing church?  We need more than a TV commercial!

What kills me is the attitude is pretty much:  It’s a shame your leaving the church, and missing out on God and/or Jesus.

You don’t tell people that when they mention they see no Jesus in your church that they are blind and deaf, because he is there clear as day!

That’s not what keeps them in church, but it sure will drive them away.  Why are you not asking questions?  All you do is give answers!

The millennial generation just told them that they are leaving, because they don’t see Jesus there!  Were they heard?

No.  The church isn’t listening, because many from MY generation have been saying this as well.  I get it.  They didn’t listen to us either.  I mean the population of the church didn’t just start falling once the millennial generation was born. Although they want to pretend it did!

Sadly, now its getting into crippling numbers and they are still making excuses for themselves.

The BS meter and the Spiritual Pixie Dust

I loved Rachel’s description:
But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.
In fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular.

What she calls ‘highly sensitive BS meters’ is so true!  I tend to refer to it as ‘spiritual pixie dust’.  You sprinkle it around, and it has magical powers that change everything to ‘lovely’ if you have JUST enough faith. 

Too many churches are so afraid of the realities of those outside their bubbles of protection.  Jesus never said life would be lovely, and did speak about how to love and support others within those periods of life that are hard. 

He said it was OKAY to get real, and mourn with those that mourn!  He certainly didn’t say, “You need meat?  My newest bible study is ALL meat and potatoes!  Buy it! You will be FILLED!”

From my prospective?  The church community in question also tends to deal in extremes, and just plain doesn’t know what to do with the reality outside the church walls.  They have a packet of predetermined answers, and want you to get the impression that they have answered ALL the mysteries that have any substance.

I mean just ASK them and they will TELL you!   Then hand you their most current autographed copy of their newest book!  It’s the newest trend of AWESOME don’t you know?!

The problem is many of us have become overly critical, tearing down instead of building up. If we're not careful, and don't appropriately discern our motives, our criticism can quickly turn to arrogance and divisiveness. - The Church Is a Harlot, But I Love Her

I had a good giggle at this quote, because if you read enough on the opinions of feminism and homosexuality at church?  Their ‘overly critical’ attitude has given way to divisiveness.  Yet, their form is ‘biblical’, but questioning that is NOT!

Want more?

Heck look at the discussions between Complementarian and Egalitarians!  What about Calvinism versus Arminianism?  People have been speaking out about the ‘arrogance and criticism’, and the tearing down, and not building UP over differences of opinion for HOW long now? 

Show us some discernment PLEASE! 

“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets. They devour the widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
(Luke 20:46-47)

When you Ignore the crazy stuff we Call OUT!

The To Millennials, or others who are exasperated with what you find in churches … Don't give up hope. We need you to bear witness to a different way WITHIN our churches. Talk with the leaders of your churches, challenge them to read books with you and discuss them. Dare to imagine and seek a meaningful life that is centered in your church community. Find a congregation that you have some connection to and can at least tolerate, and stay put; be patient, and always keep asking and seeking, even when doing so isn't always appreciated. Find friends in your congregation that will commit to staying put and asking and seeking together with you.

No offense, but its been 50 years of asking.  (Remember they claim it started going down hill after the 1960’s feminist’s.  Yep.  Its been that long!) How many more years of being told you’re the ‘bad guys’ do we take before someone will listen?  When does it happen?

Now you get 'juice bars and skinny jeans’ at church.  Seriously?  That’s all you heard?

The church gets called out on crazy actions, responses, and sermons that MAKE no logical sense!  You say its ‘biblical’ or ‘spiritual’ or ‘Godly’, and then close the comment section to your website. Real life discussions aren’t much better. In other words, “Discussion OVER!”

That’s not listening.  That dictating.  There is a huge difference.

Shall we look at a couple of ‘bizarre’ examples?  The ones they have all the answers for EVEN after they get called out on it? 

John Piper tells the wife of an abusive husband to say:
“Honey, I want so much to follow you as my leader. God calls me to do that, and I would love to do that. It would be sweet to me if I could enjoy your leadership. But if you ask me to do this, require this of me, then I can’t go there.”
Yes, the sound of the sweet spiritual pixie dust!  The response, “Well it is ‘biblical’ after all!”  If you DARE to sigh at the ignorance? 

Their next response is, ‘What if you try the LOVE dare, and FIRE PROOF approach?’ (shivers) Seriously?!

When the genders differences are approached, and people mention the church is going a little over the top? 

We are accused of ‘blurring the genders’ or wanting ‘sameness’.  How we just want genderless beings:
In doing so, men will not be trained to be “men” since there is really no such thing. Women will not be encouraged to be “women” since there is no such thing. The assumption of differences becomes a way to oppress society and marginalize, in their estimation, one sex for the benefit of the other. Once we neutralize these differences, we will have neutered society and the family due to a denial of God’s design in favor of some misguided attempt to promote a form of equality that is neither possible nor beneficial to either sex.
Women that don’t buy your line of bull?  We are dished up:
Now days, the epitome of empowered womanhood is to live a self-serving, self-righteous, neurotic, narcissistic, superficial, and adulteress life. The main character in Sex in the City series wraps it up well when she counsels women that, “The most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.” – Mary Kassian, Be June Clever not Murphy Brown
When men question the approach to their hypermasculinity?
The problem in the church today is just a bunch of nice, soft, tender, chickafied church boys. 60% of Christians are chicks and the 40% that are dudes are still sort of...chicks. It's just sad. -Mark Driscoll

Sigh…I won’t even TOUCH the over sexualized versions of ‘faith’.  This blog isn’t R rated! 

I could write a book about your animosity (that you won’t acknowledge either) towards single people, and childless couples.  That should bring you great shame, but instead your riding HIGH on your level of ‘biblical’ living instead.  Whatever that is.

You Think The Worse of Things, and Then Tell Us You Don’t EITHER!

The church also tends to ‘think the worse’ about the culture itself.  Funny, how they TRY to teach you IN church to think the best…talk about confusing!  Granted, some cultural approaches are rather ‘in your face’, but you should be able to look past that to grasp the message. 

Instead you take it personally, and automatically its some scheme to undermine the church and some belief system you put in place.

Remember the ‘slut walks’?  It started with an police officer doing a rape prevention talk, and decided to HECK with the facts and studies LADIES stop dressing like sluts and you won’t get raped!

Despite the evidence that shows rapist’s tend to look for opportunity compared to the theory of dress? 

Despite the many OTHER proven factors? 

We MUST accept the ‘culture’ is against modesty.  Why?  They aren’t one of US!  If the cultural groups doesn’t make that clear enough for you – HECK we add in some zingers for you JUST to make our point!
Barnett organized a protest march to the Toronto Police Station, which she dubbed "S#utWalk." Through it, she hoped to raise society's collective consciousness, and to encourage girls to:
  • "reclaim" the word "s#ut" and other such negative male-defined labels,
  • exert their right to reject male-defined, patriarchal norms of female dress and behavior, and
  • protest a culture that puts blame on the victims of sexual assault.
- Mary Kassian
Lets look at what the organizers in question REALLY stated:
Their goal: to shift the paradigm of mainstream rape culture, which they believe focuses on analyzing the behavior of the victim rather than that of the perpetrator.

See how WELL they line up together?  NO?!  That’s called YOUR Adventures in Missing the Point, and we NOT suppose to notice that.  It’s much better if WE just accept YOUR opinion on how they are attacking modesty instead. 

It lines up with their teachings SO well, and their UPCOMING seminar!

We are not suppose to notice your defensiveness!

You think because people criticize some of the popular players out there, and some of the nutty and dangerous stuff they say….  is because people just want to have their ears tickled? 

When they are called on their current line of bull their AMEN supporters come out, and the dialog is shut down we should STILL feel we have a voice?  Explain how that works again?!

That’s not Jesus.  That’s propaganda. You offer up a juice bar, and a pastor in skinny jeans to look ‘modern’ as a concession.  That doesn’t address the problems.  It shows our concerns fell on deaf ears.  The lap dogs of the past are in the PAST!  Hello!  Are you listening?

People aren’t all moving away from Christ, but they are moving away from Church.  We can gather together with friends in the ‘world’, or on the internet.  We can can have bible studies, debates, and worship in very different and creative ways.  We have found we can have friends with differences of opinions on gender roles, equality, and more importantly scripture without the shaming, name calling, and talking down to others.

Some are lucky enough to find churches that fit them, and have an open mind.  It would be amazing if they were easier to FIND!

We don’t need others to ‘demand’ authority, and tell us we should respect that.  We have groups of individuals that we know that have ‘authority’ in areas, but not the worldly type that you preach.  Their authority is the type that doesn’t need discussion, and recognition.   Its plain as day to everyone, and no words need to be spoken about it.

We can firmly reject those that claim you must do ‘faith’ our way otherwise your salvation could be in question!   Instead we choose those that admit they are fallen individuals that struggle at times, and their ‘image’ of church will not fall apart so they must HIDE their aspects of sin. 

We don’t agree with your version of the image of Christ that needs saving in this way.  Our failings don’t hurt his image.  He is above an PR campaign you can come up with! 

With all the ugly circumstances in the bible that are written about?  You seriously think Jesus needs image ‘saving’?  You still think a group of ‘perfect people’ is the only answer after all those circumstances listed in the bible ALONE?  He is WHOM he is despite US!  Don’t you get that?

We don’t need to save Jesus – HE SAVES US!

Don’t get me wrong – not everything you do is wrong.  You do have some good aspects like everyone else in this world.  You do.  We admit it.  It’s the deaf ears and the cold heart we object too. 

Your lack of acknowledgement over BLATANT errors, and the formulas you hand over to get that perfect life.  Those don’t line up no matter what advertising campaign you come UP with next.  I mean life never has worked that way.  Why would it change now that you hired a NEW marketing company to promote it? 

Jesus made us all custom, and that means we all different.  He said that was good.  We struggle with real problems, and not some strange versions of life you come up with.  Christ is perfectly okay with that as well, but what we don’t understand is why you are NOT! 

Life can be hard enough without all this fantasyland stuff.  Don’t talk at us – talk with us.  This time?  Listen, and open your heart a little.  If you can’t?  We will continue to walk. 

And when we walk?  Most people will grasp that the ‘blaming’ of the Millennial generation is for your benefit and ego only.  It is what it is.

Additional Resources:
Under Much Grace Articles on the Millennial Generation
Generation Gaps and the Moral Imperative of Totalitarian Niceness
1. Listen to me.
2. Don't label me.
3. Don't be so smart.
4. Put yourself in my place.
5. Be genuine.
6. Be my friend with no other motives.

they go to church, and instead of hearing about how to live with those who’ve been kicked to the curb, how to be Christ to a world caving in on itself, they hear about how the church’s job is to maneuver itself into positions of power, respectability, relevance, etc. They hear about committee meetings and deficit budgets and why it is imperative that we “keep Christ in Christmas.” They hear a baptized politics that exhorts them to be good moral “individuals” who seek a “personal relationship with Jesus,” but their relationship to the poor and the powerless, their relationship to an economic system designed to serve the interests of those already on top at the expense of those on the bottom, their relationship to a government that starts preemptive wars based on a conceit, their relationship to God’s creation–these are largely matters of indifference to the church. These young people go to church and hear why (if they happen to be at a conservative church) gay people are going to hell, or (if they happen to be at a more “progressive” church) why it might upset the ecclesiastical apple cart if we were to say that gay people are created in the image of God–exactly the way God wanted them.

Barna Group
“This transience stands in contrast to the staid, predictable, and often overprotective experience that most churches seem to offer. The gap is simple: Millennials are a generation that craves spontaneity, participation, adventure and clan-like relationships, but what they often find in churches are featureless programs and moralistic content. Leaders who hope to alter the spiritual journeys of today’s Millennials need to embrace something of a ‘reverse mentoring’ mindset, allowing the next generation to help lead alongside established leaders. Millennials need to find spiritual rootedness, but that’s not simply to preserve old ways of doing church.
“During the last 16 months of touring, our team learned that Millennials are more willing to be challenged than most church leaders are willing to challenge them. However, this does not mean simply confronting Millennials to become more conventional and embrace what they may see as ‘boring’ or ‘outdated’ forms of spiritual expression. It means inviting them into the Christian community as valued members of that community to create a new, courageous sense of home.”

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