Let me just say it – I am not ready to let go of the “Why Millennials Are Leaving the Church” conversation from the Rachel Held Evans’ CNN post that went viral almost 3 weeks ago. I’ve blogged all about it and have left quite a bit in my “Drafts” folder. Truth is, I can let go of the hype and some of the fall out but why Millennials and why people in general are leaving the Church, why they should be part of it, well, I can’t let go of. Honestly it’s pretty much what I do with a great deal of my energy.
Again, minus the name-calling, the demeaning of others and the redrawing of some of the dividing lines, I was grateful for the conversation. Some people shared some tough stories about their experiences in the Church. The act of sharing was good for others to receive and it was good for the sharer. I saw several posts with comments from people saying things like, “Thank you for sharing – Something similar happened to me…” Though maddening, heartbreak can bring us perspective as well.
While some things confirmed our frustration with the church, I also sensed that some felt something compelling them to return to the Church. Now of course when we speak of people leaving the Church or becoming part of the Church we mean trusting Jesus and being a part of His community. The reality is some of our worst experiences of church-life has little to do with Jesus or with those kind and generous followers practicing true community. Some of our worst experiences in the church are rooted with people (and structures) operating out of hypocrisy, legalism, pride, fear and hurt.
The world is broken, people are broken, the Church is broken and it mutates to something even worse when a local community of professing Christians lose their focus on what it means to be Christ-like. I’ve seen the problem, been the problem, and as I repent of being part of the problem, I am hoping that Jesus would give me the grace and strength to be part of the solution. It would be enough to live knowing this posture is Christ-honoring but it is further encouraging to see the countless other Christ-followers doing the same.
We’ll have our good days and our bad ones but many of us have (re)discovered the vision that Jesus has for His community and for the world and honestly, it’s a beautiful one. As it is one that desires to be a part of the redemption of all things, wanting to not only see an end to suffering but for all to experience the joy of life we were created to have. I know it sounds ridiculous and unrealistic. But this is why so many of we believe in a loving, just, merciful, and near God.
Should you find yourself disenchanted, angry and frustrated with the Church (or with God), know that I (and many others) have been there too and I not only sympathize but still find myself in and out of this frustration. Our stories will be different of course. You see quite a bit from all angles and the pastor perspective can sometimes be a tough one. I may not have always found the goodness I’ve wanted from the Church but because of Jesus, I have found the goodness it can be for the world. It’s a community that can give hope, unconditional love, physical necessities, genuine friendship and community and life through faith in Jesus.
This is why I love the Church, why it grieves me when people leave it or never step foot in the community. It’s why I was grateful for the Rachel Held Evan’s viral conversation and why I don’t want to see it end. There are so many vein things to focus on in this life, I pray we experience God’s vision for the Church, this community of broken people who have found hope in Jesus.