Why Millennials Are Leaving the Church: A Response to Rachel Held Evans

Recently, I was given a recent CNN article “Why Millennials Are Leaving The Church” by Rachel Held Evans.  When reading the post it becomes evident that (in my opinion) she is not talking about the “holy catholic church,” but a narrow subculture of conservative American evangelicals but the conversation is afoot none the less.  Unfortunately, her post does not [seem to] address why young adults in America are leaving the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, broad evangelical, nor mainline churches.  I must admit that her post has struck a chord with a larger swath of readers (see the thousands of comments below her post).  She is addressing a perennial topic of conversation among church leaders and church goers: what will happen to the next generation.

Like Rachel, I’m in my early 30’s, right on the border of the millennials, and many of the questions and doubts I hear from the millennial generation resonate with me too, but the analysis offered from Trevin Wax below differs somewhat from Rachel’s.

I guess the questions is simple, If you are below 30 why are you leaving (staying) in the church?  I look forward to your comments below.

Rachel’s Analysis

Rachel thinks millennials are leaving the church due to the perception that evangelicals are

“… too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

She’s right to decry a vision of Christianity that reduces repentance to a list of do’s and don’ts. I too have noticed that many millennials desire to be involved in mercy ministry and support justice causes. And I couldn’t agree more when she says “we want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.”

The Church’s Response.

How has the church responded? Rachel sees church leaders trying to update their music or preaching style, and thereby running up against the “highly sensitive BS meters” we millennials have. We’re not fooled by consumerism or performances when churches cater to what they think we want.

Rachel writes:

“What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.”

I agree with that sentence for the most part, although I would tweak the last line to say “What millennials really want from the church is substance.” Not a change in substance, necessarily, just substance will do.

Too often, our churches have offered a sanitized, spiritualized version of self-help therapy, and Jesus has been missing. And that’s the problem. Like every generation, she says, “deep down we long for Jesus.”

Here’s where Rachel and I part ways – on what communities following Jesus look like in our culture.

Read the rest of the article here…


About Jon Nelson

I am just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody [Christ Jesus]!

Posted on August 13, 2013, in ...from Jon, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. It certainly upset me to read said article but I realize that this is the age where men will become lover of selves more than lover’s of God. Millennial s walk because they have a mind set that they need to get something out of church. When they don’t feel like the church is giving them what they want they leave. The parenting style that was highly promoted for us lacked the teaching that going to church is about serving the body not what it can get us. I.e Sunday school focused on our entertainment not doctrin. Churches want to get us so badly that they will do anything…but we always go where we get what we want unless we are following Christ already! I desire to be in a church that is so focus on displaying and serving Christ they don’t stop to think about will attract me…and I find that very attractive!

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