NEWSFLASH!!! Millennials really don’t like church. Its seems like the more time we spend in church, the less and less it has for us. We have to get up early. On a SUNDAY. That’s a weekday! The day before MONDAY! And we get there, and we walk in feeling like the whole church is filled with Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” character and thinking things like “I see we didn’t go to Sunday school, did we.” Or “Hmmm, looks like somebody decided to wear jeans to God’s house. Whose the designer on those? Is it SATAN?!” (If you get the reference, you are rolling right now.)
Then we sit in this uncomfortable pew. Not quite in the back, maybe two or three rows from the back. Then we stand with the rest of the congregation and we sing what I call a 5X20 song (the same 5 line chorus 20 times). Then we sing another, and another, for 30-45 minutes. Then comes the offering plate, filled with tithe checks mocking you cause you didn’t put anything else in. Now you sit for the next hour and a half while the preacher gets up, reads 4 or five verses, and either gives a doctorate level dissertation on them, or dumbs them down more than the lady teaching “kid church” does in the next room.
You aren’t getting anything out of it. You are sitting there wondering whether Mom is making spaghetti or lasagna for dinner (yes, I’m Italian). Your trying to decide whether to watch the Titans game or the Steelers game later (Steelers, obvious answer). The guy at the front of the room is talking down to you. It’s not relatable anymore. Not to millennials. One thing we DETEST is being preached at.
So what do we need in church? What is going to refuel us? Refresh us? Fill us up with knowledge and spirit? If we are supposed to be doing ministry outside of the church, if we are to be the embodiment of Christ to those in our community, where do we get OUR spiritual food? What do millennials need from church? What would a “Millennial Church” look like?
Ok, so what were the problems we have with the church again?
Lets start with the Sunday problem. I think that by the time we get to the weekend most of us are so exhausted that we have little patience for church. For most of us our jobs are so mentally tasking that we want Saturday and Sunday to be free from any real thought. Our capacity for receiving and understanding new information is probably at its lowest on the weekend. We may do some work, like mowing, or pressure washing, or maybe a small side job like painting a room or two or building a small deck. Those are physical jobs, and unless it’s a deck worthy of Mega-Decks on DIY, they aren’t really mentally challenging.
What if we did church one evening during the week? Or better yet, what if church was open every evening and we could come and go as we please? So Tuesday wasn’t too bad at work, and I could use a spiritual pick-me up. Why don’t I go to church for a little bit? If it was open throughout the week, I could go on Tuesday. Or Monday if the day was so bad (like most Mondays) and I am at my direst need for some refuge in Christ.
Next problem, the feeling that everyone is looking at you as you walk in. Ok, so lets say church IS open during the week. And you COULD go practically any time you needed to. More than likely the people who are there as you walk in are already engaged in the Spirit. They are getting their fuel. They are so locked in to where they need to be that they hardly notice you. Pressure is off. If they do notice you, they come to you as a friend (they probably know you) and you two welcome each-other. You ask each-other how you are. You ask each-other “So why are you here on Monday?” or “Bad day? Me too.” You discuss. You connect. You find a mentor, or become a mentor perhaps.
Ok, what about the music? The 5X20 soft rock style worship that feels emptier and emptier with each repeated verse? So this one is much harder to answer. I have a problem with singing as a form of worship. I find it unnatural, and not conducive to focusing on anything other than how long this song has been going on. I cannot be put into a spirit of worship through music. But others might. So what if in this hypothetical millennial church we could come in and worship however we wanted. What if a few people could pick up a couple of instruments and play an old hymn or compose new worship? Or what if you just wanted to worship through prayer, to thank God and praise what he has done for you on a one-on-one level. What if you felt most worshipful by talking to other believers about experiences you’ve had in Christ, or sharing ways he has blessed you? We value our freedom so much as millennials, what if we applied that freedom to choose our own form of worship?
So on to giving. It seems that once or twice a year the pastor gives a sermon on “Tithing.” This comes from the Old Testament Law (which is still applicable to us, believe it or not). It was to be ten percent (1/10th) of everything grown from the land (fruit, crops, livestock, etc.) given to support the priests, the poor, the widows and orphans, etc. Though some would argue that this is an Old Testament Law and that we don’t have to follow it because we are in a New Testament, we are commanded to give by Christ. To give and to be good stewards of what we are given. I think its obvious we are expected to give, and I think millennials have a desire to give. Its to what extent, or how much we should be giving that is the question. And I don’t think there is a specific answer like 10%. And I don’t think that the church should be pressuring its congregation to give, the giving should be a result of Christ in our lives. There is a lot to be said on this topic, but I won’t go farther here.
So, lastly we have the issue of the minister. Of being preached at. If you’ve read some of our other posts, you’re probably thinking were a little too harsh towards professional clergy. Its not that we think these men aren’t men of God, or that they have nothing to offer. In fact we think the opposite. We simply think its time that more focus was put on the “Body” of believers taking on a greater role in field ministry and that we shouldn’t be expecting the professional clergy to do the bulk of the Kingdom’s work. But when it comes to how millennials learn and grow, being preached at simply doesn’t cut it. We can think for ourselves. We can research. We have so much more access to immediate knowledge than any generation before us. We can research anything and instantly get information on it. We can research, learn, and form our own opinions. We don’t need to be spoon fed, we want to cut our own meat. So what if instead of a church where one person preached to many, the many discussed what they’ve read, discuss what they’ve thought about? What if dialogue and discourse was the way we learned about the Word? Millennials love to give feedback. Social media is based on posting a piece of information so that others can comment. This is how we learn. This is how we try out new ideas. This is how we sharpen our minds and opinions. Iron against iron, steel against steel. What if church was a place for open discussion?