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10 Things I Learned About Christians When My Blog Post Went VIRAL

I always dreamed of having my words go VIRAL. Oh how the feelings of prominence and popularity would swell through my extra-long limbs as I rode atop the metaphorical elephant of my Alladin “Prince Ali” parade of world-celebration.

*CUE THE TRUMPETS!*

And then it happened and it was nothing like I expected.

In mid-September I started click-click-clicking away at a new post that had me levitating with the creative electricity that all of us Bohemian, artistic types crave in our bones. As I crafted and molded each sentence, I already felt perhaps this was the most important thing I’d ever written.

Yet despite my perceived importance, I figured like most of the 125 posts I’d penned over the past 5 years, it would make a little ripple and then settle quietly beneath the water.

Like that old World War II grenade your grandpa keeps in his freezer, I never expected it to explode.

And explode it did.

At first, it was a small explosion mostly in my home town with lots of love, some (let’s call it) resistance, and everything in between.

Then it got picked up by my favorite blog –tosavealife.com, shortly followed by two more national blogs including FaithIt.com. From there, it has been shared thousands of times across several social media platforms and has garnered over 50,000 views on my own blog in just two months (and gathered hundreds and hundreds of comments).

Here is the post: 12 Reasons Millennials Are Over Church (and scroll down to read the many angry comments)

I’ve never been at the center of a controversy before, well, not since the great Barbie Convertible debacle of 1994 when I refashioned my sister’s prized toy automobile into a vehicle more fit to carry around Curious George.

Suddenly I was thrown in the middle of a battlefield of Christians launching flaming arrows and bullets at and around me. A Lord-of-the-Rings-worthy war rose up as I stood frozen and shell-shocked in the chaos.

Some people hugged me with knowing tears in their eyes.
Some people wrote thousand-word comments and donned me a “heretic.”
Some people said I am a voice of my generation.
Some people told me to “shut the hell up.”
Some people told me I was everything that was wrong with the church.
Some people asked when I was starting my own church so they could attend.

Truthfully, I am really struggling in all of this. I’m hurting as the hateful angry comments and emails somehow scream louder than the resounding praise and support. I am lost in trying to make sense of all these people who are my “brothers and sisters in Christ” and yet are practically ready to burn me at the stake for my ideas.

Since writing is how I process the world and you’ve decided to be on this crazy blog journey with me, let’s dive into this VIRAL post together and see what we can learn from this whole, crazy shebang.

***Disclaimer: Yes I am aware I am generalizing a large group of people based on a small, vocal sample. Please direct all complaints to:

Santa Clause
re: naughty list
North Pole

He’ll know how to handle it.

12-things-i-learned-about-christians

1.) They are FREAKING angry.

Holy Hippopotamus people! When did Christians get so mad at each other? Out of a gospel centered on love and truth, service and brotherhood, how have we wandered so far from that?

I certainly didn’t think everyone would agree with me, yet how is it that sharing my thoughts on how to reach people who are anti-church could create a firestorm of rage and excessive capital letters?

The scary question is since anger is a secondary emotion, what emotion are we running from when someone dares to talk about the imperfections of the church? (and what message are we sending our young people when we barbecue anyone who does?)

Oh, and to the gentleman who emailed me accusing me of being a “devil worker.”
Aren’t you just a spring peach…

 

2.) They Don’t Know How to Disagree Well.

When did religion become so intolerantly polarizing, “I’m right, your wrong, shut up!” Where is the vulnerability to simply sit together and admit we don’t have all the answers? Heck, we probably don’t even have half the answers.

This whole faith thing is a mystery—not an equation to solve or prove! Why are we wasting even a second screaming at each other? Can we all just take a deep breath and dream of the possibilities together?

 

3.) They are Beautiful.

Christians are beautiful people who want others to have the unparalleled experience of knowing this God Guy and His Son who love us like crazy. They are passionate about making the world a better place and standing up for what they believe in.

They love the church and want to protect it from outside attack and that truly is a beautiful thing.

 

4.) They Throw Bible Verses like Hand Grenades.

I love the bible, I truly do. But perhaps loading the word of God into a cannon to fire at people isn’t quite what our loving Father had in mind.

The bible is a complex book in need of study, translation and context. And the “right answers” aren’t in the back of the book, I’ve checked. When did this beautiful collection of story, wisdom and truth become a weapon we use out of anger and resentment?

 

5.) (Too Many) Are Always Ready to ATTACK

Out came the claws.

One of the most common reactions was that I needed to “stop whining and go do something about it.” And my personal favorite—“you are everything that is wrong with the church.”

HOLD UP

No you didn’t.

I have spent the last six years serving the crap out of my community. My low estimate is that I’ve logged over 1000 hours helping in kids ministry, middle and high school youth group, retreats and events, writing ministry curriculum, directing a kids church choir, serving on worship team, leading a young adults group in my home, starting my own suicide prevention ministry, writing a blog about Jesus that thousands of people read every single month and writing a book.

I also spent 6 weeks serving in Zimbabwe and 2 weeks loving up on some incredible orphans in Haiti.

If I am self-centered and everything that is wrong with the church… we’ve got much bigger issues.

 

6.) They are Scared.

Remember when I mentioned the secondary emotion thing… I think talking about why millennials don’t like church is striking some deep, horror-movie-like fears.

Fear that we aren’t doing enough.
Fear that are ministry models aren’t “successful” enough (whatever that means).
Fear that perhaps the enemy is winning in our culture.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of change.
Fear of admitting that we don’t understand what is happening in our world.
Fear that (gasp!) a young person might actually have words that matter.

But oh my friends, none of this is surprising to God. He says “Do not fear” more times than Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory says BAZINGA. Let’s move past our fears and work together.

 

7.) ***(A SELECT VOCAL FEW) Will Make Anything About Gay People and Abortion.

As long as I live I will never understand why Christians are so obsessed with SHOUTING about these two issues.

I just can’t seem to find the verse where Jesus gets out his picket signs and stands around screaming at people. If these are issues that God has placed on your heart, go, serve, be the light of the world. To me, that looks like serving an organization like Save the Storks or building relationships with people and getting to know them.

The fact that these arguments are even happening as a result of my post PROVES why millennials are tired of church.

 

8.) There Are TONS Churches that are Totally Rocking It

I loved how many comments and emails I got from Christians who are so proud of their church. “Come Visit!” I happen to think my church does a lot of things extremely well too. I actually wrote that post out of love for this church I have served with my whole heart.

I also live by this quote, “we have never arrived.” Every place has room to improve—to be more outward focused and loving. I had some ideas I thought were pretty swell so I shared them in hopes more people would share their ideas.

I mean it didn’t not work…

 

9.) We Don’t Know How to Ask Questions

This is my biggest takeaway and perhaps our greatest weakness as a body of believers.

Nobody asked me about my story or my experiences in the church. Nobody asked clarifying questions about the points I made. Nobody asked if I was okay or how they could help. Nobody asked.

They jumped to screaming and fighting and scolding. How do we train ourselves so that our first instinct is to ask out of love instead of kill and destroy? (we’ll save that one for another post.)

10.) They really love Jesus.

That’s the thing right—if these people didn’t deeply love Jesus they wouldn’t be so passionately trying to defend His church. They wouldn’t be attacking if they didn’t think there was something worth defending.

However, history would show us that perhaps this isn’t the greatest strategy. *cough* The Crusades *cough*.

How do we as body of believers from all over the planet learn to come together and be love?
How do we work together to reach a generation that is terrifyingly anti-church?
How do we learn to listen and see each other the way Jesus saw and heard people?
How do we take back this horrible (and somewhat accurate) perception of Christians that yell, scream and argue instead of helping, loving, and serving?

I don’t know.
I don’t… know.

I just know that we have to.
I know that we cannot shut up.
I know we cannot let the loud angry voices drawn out the softer, loving ones.
I know we have to keep standing in the middle of this battlefield together and desperately cling to the very thing Jesus came to give us: hope.

Hope that God can and will find a way to change Christian culture from one of fear and anger into one of peace and action.

Love,

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About Sam

in love with all things Jesus, music, adventure, writing, teaching, laughter, running, friendship. Founder of recklesslyalive.com.

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41 comments

  1. I just read your article on another web page and I loved it! I’m 48 and feel much of the same way. I also have two teenage daughters and need to understand their generation. Thank you!

  2. You rocked it Sam! I am 61 and even I have a difficult time going to church for the exact reasons you mentioned. God has called you to proclaim His truth. It’s not going to be easy. I have been praying for people to speak up. Unfortunately, at this time, the angry voices are the loudest. We need people like you. I will keep you in prayer. Remember, Jesus Himself was rejected. We need to live as He did. He will strengthen and sustain you.

  3. I read your post “12 reasons millennials are over church” after a friend shared it on Facebook then I shared it as well. I have to say, as a Pastor’s daughter, I have spent nearly my whole life in church in at least 3 denominations/nondenominational congregations other than a year or so when I floated around at the beginning of college and I appreciated the things you were saying. I have served in multiple capacities within the church as well and I haven’t felt all of the same things, but there were certainly several that resonated with me. Even my younger sister who has rejected not only the church but God for quite a few years now liked the article and it started a discussion between us as I asked her what struck her. I applaud you for putting your thoughts out there. I think it’s so very important to look at why the culture of the church has changed so drastically and why even those who show up are languishing. I have been troubled by the trajectory in American churches for several years as well specifically after reading several books by AW Tozer who was concerned 50 years ago about where the church was going (and what he foresaw has come to pass!!) and I would add to your list some of his observations in that our idea of God has gotten so small and our focus turned so much toward ourselves and just our problems and entertainment that we have stifled the Holy Spirit and in large part ceased to worship the one true God in spirit and truth. Church feels like little more than a social club that doesn’t do a great job of making people feel welcome, wanted, and loved. We could always make it a better club, but I am desperate to see the Church belong to Christ again and not the agendas of man or man’s interpretation of God’s agenda. I think of the letters to the churches in Revelation and wonder what the Spirit would speak about our churches. So from one frustrated Millennial to another I pray for you on your path and encourage you to continue speaking your heart and leave the naysayers to God.

  4. I would say I have a pretty strong heterodoxy detector and after reading your post I have to say that I am left wondering what those people who are calling you a “devil worker” and such are smoking. I mean I found a couple of points that I probably disagree with compared numerous points of agreement and often strong agreement, but there was nothing that was even remotely deserving of that kind of response (heck, I actually found more to disagree with in this post lol [nothing serious]).

    • Haha, thank you! That means a lot coming from such a smart, articulate man as yourself. I am always up for a healthy debate. Hope you and Alicia are doing well my friend.

      • Alicia and I are doing quite well. Thank you for asking

        The only critique I would give concerns being careful with this statement, “The bible is a complex book in need of study, translation and context.” I know what you are trying to say and actually agree with the statement and have said similar things myself many times, however, one has to be a bit careful around this issue in not taking it to the extreme because of the history surrounding this. If I may give a bit of non-drunk history (which you likely already know)….

        In 1517 Martin Luther placed Ninety-five Theses upon the door of Wittenberg Church which would ultimately ignite the Protestant Reformation. The gist of the Theses was to illuminate the ways in which the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church (at that time simply “The Catholic Church”) differed from the teachings of Scripture primarily with regards to the giving of Indulgences. This was blasphemy because Catholic Church claimed, and had claimed for nearly a millennia, that the Catholic Church itself was the sole authoritative interpreter of Scripture. Thus, even if the interpretations of the Catholic Church were patently ridiculous, they were right (according to the Catholic Church) simply because they were the interpretations of the Catholic Church (we actually do something similar in this country in regards to interpretations of regulatory agencies in regards to laws they are charged with administering….one of the biggest issues in our country that nobody knows about). To boil it down the Catholic Church claimed that Scripture was “a complex book in need of study, translation and context” and that only the Catholic Church had the ability to perform this task. Anyone who disagreed with their interpretations (e.g. Martin Luther) was SOL.

        In contrast the Protestants, starting with Martin Luther, believed in the perspicuity or clarity of Scripture. Not much more needs to be said on this other than what is said in the 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith which states “All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

        Note that the the Confession does not say all things in Scripture are clear, instead it states the opposite, “all things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves”, but what Protestants have believed from the very beginning is that those things which are of first importance, those things which lead one to redemption and salvation, are so clearly stated that even the unlearned can comprehend them “through due use of ordinary means.”

  5. You make some excellent points. I read your 12 reasons and started thinking about the church my husband pastors. It is an older congregation that surprisingly is doing a lot of the things you suggest. We have a long way to go.

    As a ministers kid think I’ve been hurt worse by church people. There was a time when I was ready to walk away but didn’t. The only advice I have is keep reading the Bible, praying and seeking God. I know it sounds like a cop out but someone how when I was in the most pain God brought the right people in my life.

  6. Sam, I am also a 48 year old mom. My lovely boy is a 7 year old ball of energy and awesomeness. You have exactly captured my concerns about the church. It’s how I have felt for years. Thank you for your honesty. And for persevering with being in the spotlight. My dad is a pastor and while he does and says some of the very hurtful things that were said to you, I also remember him talking about his own recovery after a particularly pointed sermon. It had some people pawing and whining at him and I was a teenage girl defensive on his behalf. He said sermons like that were sometimes like throwing some sticks into a pack of dogs. It was the ones that got hit that were going to yelp. Keep speaking the truth in love Sam. You’ve got a powerful voice. Thanks for using it to try and point to Him from a different angle.

  7. Hey sam

    Thinking of living in a cave yet? Until you figure some of this stuff out it’s the only safe place to think.

    If you go back and look hard at all the comments you will see a pattern stand out – the hearts that are really searching have no motives; they’re open to considering what you have said and look for something they can pull apart and rest on, however, the religious are sharpening their tongues and getting wood for the stake.

    The position of offence is such an easy cop-out. It’s closed and doesn’t demand you consider anything.

    I’m pretty chuffed about how much you’ve grown the last half of this year. It’s not an easy road when you decide to be vulnerable and open from the heart, it takes courage to think from that place and ignore the protocols of the head, these days you have to be guarded and you would be surprised by who from.

    May I encourage you to keep searching, HE is doing something very new with this unsavoury millennial bunch, a little turning over of the tables, some letting down of religious tyres, anything to shake the traditions of men up.

    Every time this sort of stuff comes to the surface the religious get upset…don’t sweat it. What astonishes me is they think they own the truth…but the truth is not religious – it’s merely facts spoken by someone that sees more than others. Do you think Jesus might know more about life and God than we do? Wisdom and understanding are timeless but the truth is fresh, with Him in the moment of every day. Only by asking questions can we hope to learn what He knows. The truth can be brutal to the one that disagrees but the facts are undeniable if you are willing to look, even to them. However, the battle between religion and relationship continues…

    Anyway keep up the hard work; shake that tree and find the fruit you are looking for. I’m personally excited about the millennials – the time is ripe and there are some amazing things ahead for the fresh and courageous hearts that want more of Him.

  8. Just a note: On #7, Those two issues are deliberate “hot buttons” chosen by the far Right, I’m told, to keep the evangelical community engaged and enraged in politics. It seems to have worked. Are either of these issues directly addressed in the pages of Scripture. Most who would know say they are not.

    • Hi Alice, I am one who would know (40 years in ministry and 10 years teaching ethics and religion at a State University. Abortion and the Gay lifestyle are certainly dealt with in scripture. That is no longer the “main” question. Before delving into those issues with the current batch of students, one must first find a place of trust with them. They are slow to accept any outside authority – whether from scripture or otherwise. One quick way to find yourself alone . . . open with an attack on their perceived rights.

      • Hm. If you’re “one who would know”, then maybe you could provide a reference to a verse where Jesus talks about either abortion or gay rights? Or any verse at all where the abortion is mentioned (other than that bit about how to mix and administer an abortion-inducing potion as a test of marital fidelity, of course)?

  9. I read your article and as the mother of four ( three being minllenials) I have to respect some and agree with many other of your points. I am blessed to be part of a wonderful church that really tries to listen to and address the needs of an ever fluid congregation of ALL ages. They are very successful in many areas including an online service for those who enjoy church in PJ’s with donuts! (Warning, shameless plug…Christ Fellowship In McKinney, TX) I agree the mentoring is an excellent idea! We offer small groups but not sure if we have a mentoring small group but I’m going to check it out. Sharing life experienced with those about to is a valuable resource. No matter what the “church” does minllenials are affected by the “people” who they reach to, look up to and do life with. I wish I could say all four of my children attend church however I cant. My daughter’s reasons…many ways the same as the millenials in your article. At a crucial point she needed the support of an older advisor (not her mom & a single/widowed parent) many the people of the church she reached to failed her in the way she needed their help; not the gospel. She unfortunately threw the baby out with the bathwater. She still attends with me occasionally and online services but will not “do” church. I know she’s missing the chance for community and for further developing relationships especially hers with God. I’m going to share your article with her and see if it can be a jumping off point to a better understanding for her and I, her friends, and so on. Thank you for your courage to open up and put this out there. Iron sharpens iron…

  10. I just read your original post about church on tosavealife (that’s how I ended up here) and agreed with all of it, and would probably add a few more things! I’m 33 and though I love God and my faith is solid, I’ve been in a rather long season of just not being into church. I’ve only encountered one church in the past 5 years that I WANT to be a part of – National Community Church in DC (but unfortunately I don’t live in DC so I can’t attend)… the rest of the churches I’ve tried to be a part of, well… I am definitely so over church. So THANK YOU for expressing your thoughts and giving so many people something to relate to, and for having such good suggestions for change! Gee, you’d think people would appreciate your desire to help – I’m sorry that many haven’t. I hope you find a way to let the negative comments go in one ear and out the other without taking up any mental real estate. Your honesty, your humility, your desire to see positive change is admirable. Keep up the good work!

  11. Thanks for writing the “12 Reasons” post and this one. Just wanted to say I hear you and I get it and I’m glad I’m not the only one. 🙂

  12. Sam, I read your blog post “12 Reasons Millennials are OVER Church” on To Save a Life, and now after reading this, maybe I was a bit hasty in some of the things I said, but I want it to be known that my comment was not out of anger. I’ve copied it below for you to read. Like I said, I understand the frustration. I’m in Christian ministry, and I’m a millennial, and I have been shut down more times than I can count. There are times when I’ve spoken about equality and against injustices in my church, and I’ve been told to sit down and berated in public. Yet, despite all that, I will fight, because the Church is filled with people who are sinful, just like you and me, and I believe that none of us will get it perfect. I appreciate you sharing your views. If you’re willing to maybe discuss this further, or would like a listening ear, please know that you can contact me.

    Sam, I believe that all of these reasons are correct and true in regards to why milennials leave the church. As a milennial and as someone who is in Christian ministry, I’ve seen the damage that our churches have done which has led to many milennials leaving. Yet, at the same time, I believe the ball is in our court to do what we will. We’re the blogging generation, and I’ve seen several posts like this about why milennials leave the church. Well, if there’s only four percent remaining, then what are people doing? We’re known as the generation that gets trophies for participation, so it seems like we need to be babied in every corner. I disagree with this view of disillusionment that we have. If your church isn’t doing any of these things, don’t want to listen to you, don’t want to serve the poor, then go start a church that does! Let’s talk about Church history. There has been opposition for the Church from day one, both internally and externally. Does that mean all we do is whine about it and write about it, but not do anything about it?

    You close off by saying, “The truth is, church, it’s your move. Decide if millennials actually matter to you and let us know. In the meantime, we’ll be over here in our sweatpants listening to podcasts, serving the poor and agreeing with public opinion that perhaps church isn’t as important or worthwhile as our parents have lead us to believe.” Why should we be sitting in our sweatpants listening to podcasts? We have the most resources to learn from compared to any other generation. Learn and then go teach! That’s how it’s always been. When Christ left the 12 Apostles and filled them with the Holy Spirit, they went out and radically changed the world. They didn’t sit in their sweatpants. They risked their lives, went to places, served the needy, and shared the Gospel. They were willing to die for Jesus. We’re a generation that expects things to be handed to us. No, it’s not the church’s turn. It’s our turn. It’s our time to go make the church live out the Gospel. We need to create spaces that can serve the poor, talk about the taboo topics, and risk our lives. When Martin Luther was discontent with the Catholic Church, he posted the 95 theses, got kicked out, and then he started a reformation. He did something about it! If the public perception of the church within the community is bad, then go change it! It seems like you’re deeming the previous generations as the “Church,” based on your post, and if that’s the case, go out and fight to make the Church ours.

    Take it from me. I’ve been beaten and bruised. My opinions have long been tossed aside. The Church has burnt me out more times than I can count. Yet, I will not stop striving within the Church. Why? Because this is the era of the Church. This is the time for us to live out the Gospel, minister to the unchurched, and show Christ’s love to the world. Acts 2 is the beginning of the Church with the Holy Spirit coming on the Day of Pentecost. With their preaching, 3,000 were saved. From there, it was like a snowball going downhill, getting bigger and bigger. They faced so much persecution, with many giving their lives for the Gospel, but they never stopped. They never quit. They fought to become relevant. They fought to make Jesus’ name known. To ever milennial out there, this is your mission. Team up and do it. Don’t wait on whatever “church” to include you in doing it. If they don’t want you to participate, be part of leadership, or whatever, then go out and start something with other milennials. Just outright leaving because you’re disillusioned is only harming you.

    Last, I will close with this. For an article about leaving the church, there’s not a single Biblical verse to support your argument. For me, my decisions must be Biblically-based. While these are all good reasons, they’re not Biblical. Why would I stay in the church even if I feel the odds are against me? James 1:2-4 states, “Dear brother sand sisters, when troubles of ANY kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

  13. Sam,
    I have only read two of your posts; this one and “12 Reasons,” so forgive me if I am commenting on something that you have covered, elsewhere. For starters, there is a great deal of information in the two posts I have read with which I agree. As the father of two members of the Millennial generation, I have experienced the turning away from the church by those who have lost faith in the church of their forefathers while still maintaining a faith in and love for Jesus. However, I do believe that the turning away has consequences and may be more of an excuse than a real reason. Many who have turned from the church are doing so because they are seeking their own truth and not the truth of the Word of God. I am not generalizing…I am saying some. I also believe that many have been hurt. There is an old saying that, “the church is the first to shoot their wounded.” I have seen that, first-hand. However, leaving the church is not necessarily going to fix anything. Sometimes we have to look beyond the faults of the church and be forgiving and understanding of the faults of an imperfect church while we also seek forgiveness and understanding for our own faults. I believe that turning away from the church can result in a life that is missing many of the benefits of church attendance. There is a reason that the author of Hebrews penned that we should not forsake assembling together. We all need friends. We all need those on whom we can depend. We all need encouragement (and sometimes we all need scolding). Sure, we can find those things elsewhere but the church (if it truly is a Spirit-led congregation) should be a place of support, healing, love and service. Which brings me to my second point. Just because a group of people gather together in a building with the name “church” on the sign does not mean they are Christians. In fact, there are a large percentage of those claiming to be Christians and those who regularly attend church that will never see the kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 7:21). The real church is those who strive to serve the Lord and to worship Him in a corporate setting. The church is not a denomination, nor set of by-laws, nor a system of social beliefs. As Michael Teeter so elegantly stated in his comments regarding Martin Luther, the basic tenants of Christianity are what we need to focus on, not what is right or wrong with the church or those who don’t gather with others. The church is made up of sinners and imperfect people. When we seek to serve and to live as Jesus lived, then we see the growth of the church. When we make it about service and worship and not about ME, we will see the Gospel shared and the joy of Christ in the lives of those who seek peace and hope that can only be found in a relationship with the Savior. I attend a Baptist church. Do I agree with everything that Baptists doctrinally espouse? Nope. However, I doubt I will find a congregation with which I totally agree, regardless of the brand on the building. I spend time in the Word seeking what God would have me do and how He would have me live. I don’t claim to understand everything in the Bible nor do I think I need to understand it all. What I do know, beyond a shadow of doubt, is that we are created to love and to serve and to worship. Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are all about love. Just like there are times my wife and kids don’t love me so much, there are times that I don’t always love the actions of the people in the church. That doesn’t mean I should turn away. What it means is that I need to stay true to my faith and my beliefs and hold fast to the knowledge that moving mountains happens through faith, not through words. If millennials, and any others, want to see the church change for the better, they need to be the catalyst for change, not run from the fight. The evil one loves nothing more than seeing the destruction of the church and will give us all plenty of reasons to turn away from corporate assembly and service. I prefer to be the voice in the wilderness and the light in the darkness. I choose to serve and to worship even though there are plenty of reasons I can find to cut and run. My prayer is that those who have abandoned the gathering together for service and worship will seek the will of God and find somewhere to gather with the saints who long to see God glorified and to honor the Christ who dies for us. Finally, those who are “angry” and judgmental and overly “pharisaical” might do well to spend more time seeking the will of the Lord and less time trying to be Him! Just my .02.

  14. What is your personal story? I want to know.

  15. Many people have been exposed to just enough dogma to be vaccinated against the love, mercy, forgiveness, understanding that the true gospel brings into your life if you if you have been saved by it, grown in it and live daily by it. How do become an agent of change with these negative combative ones that fill our church pews?

  16. I think your words on #2 about not knowing how to “disagree” is a thing (practically disease-like) our entire nation is suffering from—hello 2016 Presidential election. People get on a rampage, soap box, freaking skyscraper of “I’m right and I’m going to talk ‘at you’ until you can hardly hear your own thoughts.” Key words: talk “at you.” When have we as a society lost the way of speaking “with one another”?
    When I talk to friends who have left the church, or show no interest at all in the church, it all seems to come back to a few key elements, one being the fact that they don’t want to just be talked at—they want to discuss. They crave a person actually discussing and dissecting not just scripture but life in general. They don’t want to be told to “just believe it because it is in the bible;” instead, they want to know “why.” Why should they listen; what makes our religion the “right” religion? Its layers of trying to be logical while also hungry for something that feels like truth. Yet anyone who questions faith, in some cases, seem to be attacked with the bible (I know its a “sword” and all but for real…), and they are not really heard.
    All in all, we live in a pretty crazy time—where a lot of the world sees Christians as cookie cutter people; as fake human beings with judgement plastered on our “smiles.” (Have you heard some of the commentary made on Trump and Christians? Yikes…) I myself have faced the fear of condemnation; wondering if I’d be scorned (behind closed doors) because of choices I’ve made. There is a perception of the way a Christian should be (a fake, glass doll with a permanent smile and bright eyes) when really we are all broken, dirty people. Hello, that’s why God came, or do people forget that? Do they also remember who Christ had to deal with the most—the Pharisees. Yes, I’m comparing certain people, certain Christian people, to Pharisees—blind and stuck in their ways.

    (Didn’t mean to write an essay. Writers…. LOL).

    All this to say, keep speaking your mind, but with wisdom (which you’ve got going on, for sure!) Just remember that writers who do speak their minds, and do it well, can sometimes get hit with the most fire power. Part of the game. Also, Christ was attacked again and again for his teachings. He stepped on toes…a lot of toes.

  17. Sam,

    I do appreciate what you want to do but feel heartbroken that I feel I need to justify my faith and my church and what we do. You have put all of us in a box and that’s not correct nor fair to us.

    I felt so saddened that some of the points made were so against the older Christians in the church failing and that we don’t care about millennia’s. We care a lot, our church does many of the things you say we should do and even more and if that is termed “programs” well our millennia’s are part of that work. Have lived in 8 states and at 72 yrs old now returned home and our church has a great number of millennia’s, we love having them as part of our church. Actually we sort of mentor each other and they have wisdom to share with us, it’s a good thing to talk and grow together. We don’t call them millennia’s, we call them the future of the church, our brothers and sisters. They are exciting and fun and sweet and they love the Lord and the church and we are all part of our Christian family. I know of many churches that do the same as my church does in TN. Our church and surrounding churches of different denominations work together with compassion for the poor: feeding, clothing, housing, helping with getting jobs etc. etc. We do have the “coffee shop” where they and us can sit and chat. I think you might find many churches throughout the country will tell you the same thing. In all the churches I have attended I have never heard anyone say “you are letting our church down” never. This group of young adult Christians have never said to my knowledge “older people, you’re out of your element with this generation” as we do talk to the millennia’s and are involved with their good works, their programs! I don’t know any that have ever said, ‘what I am still doing here”. We create real and relevant space for young adults to learn, grow and be vulnerable. but not just young adults, it is created for all ages, even the seniors in our church are allowed to be venerable. Our church has a special Wed. night assembly every month called Amazing Grace where one person is interviewed (young and old) and filmed for future sharing about their life, the disappointments, the struggles from childhood to adulthood and how the good Lord God brought them out of it. We have drug addiction and AAA programs every week taught by former drug and alcohol attics. We have in a separate auditorium an Hispanic speaking assembly that has the service as the same time we have the English speaking assembly. We all fellowship together. We have about 30% blacks, 40% whites, 30% Hispanics and leaders, song leaders, bible teachers, elders and deacons of equal leadership for all members and the blacks mentor the blacks/whites and blacks mentor blacks/whites and the Hispanics well they mentor those that speak Spanish. Part of the young adults (millennia’s) have a garden in about 1/2 acre to grow vegetables in water bines with no pesticides and try to raise 7000 lbs of food a year for the poor to come and gather what they want. I helped with that for a short time but had to drop out because of health issues Also our building of 75 years has enlarged but the church has every Sun received more $$$ than in the budget. We have the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor and we are all equal in the Lord. I love the church I attend but so sad we have been grouped from your site as not accepting all nor being relevant to the world.

    The thing is I have cried for 2 days and into the nights to feel we are not doing enough as Christians and I am totally exhausted from this but decided before I go to sleep tonight I will express my thoughts and share my feelings. I hope I haven’t offended anyone but also hope you will set the record straight that many of the Lord’s people are doing His work on earth and accepting all that enter our door. I am not angry with this but I am very sad that no one on your “group” know about us. Our church is not dying, we are growing and I know many of the millennia’s will find us and others like us.

    PLEASE You TELL THEM A WHOLE LOT OF US CARE ABOUT THEM AND LOVE THEM and we want them with us in the Lord’s church. We want their input and ideas, After all they are our darling children and/or grandchildren… UH …and of course some of us UH …great grandchildren! BTW we are not dated! I still dance at home like nobody is watching, can walk half a mile a day and take Tai Chi (the slow Tia Chi) C. Wamble

  18. Enjoyed reading your words and seeing the responses received in the posts you’ve received. I’m a man in his 60’s who agrees with much of what you said. You have placed yourself in a position where your words will and should be contrasted against the Scriptures. I would encourage you to really know the Word of God. It is in His words that you would do well to use as a base your responses.
    I have had the pleasure of watching, listening and learning from men and women in their 80’s and 90’s while I was in my teens and twenties. Many were the words that were spoken that I recognize now as being words of true wisdom learned from the Lord. Words of men and women that had gone through seasons of life that neither mine nor your generation can imagine. They had to live out Christ during times that we have yet to comprehend. I urge you to speak by the leading of Holy Spirit, the words that He would have you to say. You have placed yourself in a position where your words will and should be contrasted against the Scriptures. Every generation seems to not understand fully what the Lord was trying to do to draw them closer to Himself. Therefore we did not learn the lessons we should have learned due to their follies. My generation did not listen and learn some important truths from my parents past, the same as my children haven’t learned from me.

    Bottom line young man of God, learn from the past! Look in the Word of God for both the ways in which all men, old and young, who didn’t watch, listen and learn from the leadership of the “Men of God” under the written “Word of God” failed to do the “Will of God.” May God bless you in this path you have chosen.

  19. I appreciated your original post so much (as well as this one).

    I’ve spoken to so many people about why I don’t like church, and their answer never fails to be, “Just get involved!” To which I respond I’ve been attending the same church since I was born and have been involved in multiple capacities since I was eight. They’ve just never noticed me. I don’t need them to notice me serving, but I would like them to notice that I even exist. Some of the elders have introduced themselves to me multiple times, thinking I was a visitor. I’m so tired of it. I’m so tired of church. They don’t care about me or the people I care about, and I know Jesus does. Yet they don’t think Jesus is with me like He’s with them.

    Thank you for vocalizing so many of my feelings; I’m too deep in it to articulate it very well at this point.

  20. Hi Sam,
    I am so glad you wrote on the 12 reasons why millenials don’t like church and then followed up with this post. I was beginning to wonder if anyone felt the way I did and starting to lose hope when I saw the 12 Reasons article on Facebook. I have experienced a Lott abuse at the hands of people who call themselves Christians and are truly not sorry for the damage they have caused. All of it has left me hanging by a thread when it comes to going to church. While reading your posts, I realized that the church has given a horrible example to the young people in our world so why would we want to go back to a place that reminds us of all the pain? One other thing. Don’t stop. Thank God for those who have come against you. It is the sign I use to know that I am doing the right thing. Keep at the work God has called you to do through your writing.

  21. Hi Sam, your article was viral indeed, I have access to it in Portugal.
    My name is Paula, I am Portuguese, 45 years old, I attend an international church and I read your article that a friend of mine from England shared at FB. Your words reflect the actual state of the Church, so true, what I love about your article is that for the first time I see someone speak about the problems and give real solutions… Congratulations for your words, your courage, it´s a shame that people who have different opinions are squeezed in the system… I feel that way some times… Press on that´s what I tell you. God bless you!

  22. Bless you for your courage, bless you for your love of Christ that compels you to go and serve.

    Your words are true; they stir up desires to return to my first love. You willingly put yourself out there and make yourself vulnerable, and there is a beauty in that. What a breath of fresh air!

    I’m 63 and have been a believer since the age of 5. I’ve had a hard life but God has never forsaken me. I want to find new ways to serve the least of these….there are so many things I can’t do because of health restrictions, but I’m a writer and I can put my words out there too.

  23. Hi Sam. A nonbelieving friend of mine linked this article to his FB page. My response was harsh, but far from anger-based. It is objective. I hope you will be able to recognize that. So, you can see my response as an attack (which would be nothing more than a typical millennial response), or you can break from the stereotype and see it as a Bible-based constructive criticism and then grow from it.

    Point-by-Point:

    1. We tried this with previous generations already (starting in the 90s) and they failed, starting with the church growth movement. Yes. It’s a thing. There’s a reason why they failed.

    “When believers have a low view of God, everything focuses on meeting felt needs within the body of Christ. When the church adopts such a perspective, it often offers people nothing more than spiritual placebos. It centers on psychology, self-esteem, entertainment, and a myriad of other diversions to attempt to meet perceived and felt needs.”
    ― John F. MacArthur Jr., Alone With God

    These “felt needs” priorities also center on the philosophy of pragmatism, which is a subtle, seductive, and rank heresy. <– Yeah, I said it. This is why most contemporary churches are essentially well-meaning, but otherwise dead.

    Related: Institutions that are "shaped" no longer remain institutions. I don't blame you for this misunderstanding. Rather, I blame your parents for making you think we are all here to control Christ's church. We aren't. Christianity is a constitutional monarchy promoting an absolute monarchy in-absentia. No one gets a turn sitting on the throne by proxy (no one). No one will come up with their own form of worship outside of the exegetical proclamation of scripture. The regulative principle of worship preserves the church, while the normative principle of worship bleeds out.

    tl;dr – It's really not about you. I tried to tell your mom and dad, but they didn't listen either.

    2. They're right about this one, which is also fallout from the church growth movement. However, the "churchy words" have an origin, and they do matter to an institution that will remain as such (Matt 16:18b). So we'll not throw out the baby with the bathwater here.

    Terms like "imputation" and "forensic" is "Christianese" that is essentially vital to understanding the gospel. The gospel is very different from Kevin Smith's "Buddy Christ" theology.

    3. Again, Matthew 6:1-4. You can't assume we aren't giving, or have no passion for giving, especially after we encounter it in Bible study. <– That's irony.

    The solutions the author proposes are like him sawing off the tree branch he's firmly perched upon. Ephesians 4:11-13 states (yep, another bible study until you get it right) the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers are there to equip the rest of the church for the works of service. That's how it happens.

    Proposing yet another survey is pragmatic to the self-centeredness of "felt needs" (see above). We don't stick our finger up in the air and follow which way the wind blows. A fickle congregation is a dead congregation. Oh, and "group serve dates" as well as the survey will need to be defined and drawn up in a meeting of course. You call that a solution? What's it called when you do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result?

    4. The author's solutions are not gospel-centered. Romans 1:16 comes into play. If the author really believes the gospel is the power of God to everyone who believes, then he will not appeal to pragmatic and vague solutions. The author says, "Explicitly teach us how our lives should differ from the culture," but he just said earlier that he doesn't want another Bible study that does exactly what he's asking for! 1 Peter 2:1-17 explicitly teaches the believer their position in Christ vs. the culture. How could it be any more explicit than this? 1 Timothy 4:2-5. What, you don't wanna read it? You don't want to sit in class for the exegesis? Then there's your problem.

    5. The authentic community will happen when we let the older teach the younger, as the apostle Paul taught. Galatians 3:28 addresses this. Such divisions require a fast response, as stated in Titus 3:10. The entire book of 1 Corinthians was written because of the "mean girls mentality" the author is complaining about. But he doesn't want another Bible study.

    "Get connected" is just another way of making the church into another social club. We're only proving that we do not learn from history at all.

    6. Agreed. Our church actually does the right thing here. I'm surprised to realize that we might be in the minority on this. Agreed with the need to justify expenditures, but do so biblically. Are you saving up to fly to Africa just to take an exotic adventure, or are you there to really teach and preach the word? Can't speak the language? Then there's a way to do it cheaper with those who can. We don't need a dozen people bringing empty suitcases on this trip that can't even speak the language.

    7. This is the definition of a pastor-teacher. The pastor shouldn't just teach and preach, but is a mentor to the flock. Pastor means shepherd. He is to live alongside the sheep and live for the sheep. Not above them.

    Personal thought: I don't get the impression that milennials really want a mentor. Mentors teach. Mentors challenge. Mentors provoke you out of your comfort zone.

    Seriously. Do you really want a cane-beating Yoda riding your back through a swamp? Really?

    Really?

    8. This goes back to 1 Peter 2. This author is showing all the red flags that his church isn't doing what it is supposed to do. You really are valued. Here's why. Oh wait, he doesn't want another bible study. lol

    9. Blanket agreement 100%. Bring it. I am desperate to bring it. The problem is your parents get a little testy about this stuff. They'll even scream and make wild accusations. Bringing up controversial issues would reveal that Christianity isn't something they can control or even understand at the level they should be even at their age. I'm not sellling gnosticism here. I'm saying mom and dad are willfully ignorant and are just fine with it.

    10. No. The author is doubling-down on what got us into the very mess he's complaining about. 2 Cor 6:17, Jude 1:19. We engage the world, but we will not compromise with the world, nor try to be like them. They just make fun of us when we try to ape their behavior anyway. Flanders is a parody for a reason.

    11. I am actually doing this right now.

    12. See above. You're being redundant. If the truth is on your side, then there's no need to pad your argument.

  24. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You’ve given voice to a really good conversation–one that many of us are in the middle of trying to “figure out.” I love millennials–I’m on the edge of the age range. They are my friends, and it’s painful to see them walk away from the church and (by osmosis or choice) their faith.

    I’m hoping and praying we find a way through it! A revival would be nice!

    Keep up the good work! Don’t give up writing, thinking, and talking! Glean what you can from negative criticism, and dismiss things that aren’t from the Holy Spirit!

  25. Hi Sam,

    I’d love to have some constructive dialogue with you on your articles. It is sadly true that it is nearly impossible to have actually hard, real discussions within the Church without ‘conflict’ arising. In my humble view, and for your reflection, a large part of this is the invasion and dominence of post modern thinking were there is ‘no truth’ and the elevation of ‘Tolerence’ as the ultimate Christian ‘virtue rather than Truth. Much of your ‘feedback’, or your perception of the feedback is a result of the clash of these disjointed Christian worldviews…one that values Truth, and Theology and Doctrine that is ‘knowable’….versus one that ‘agrees to disagree’ and stands on ‘variable truth’…and the sacred shield of ”JUDGE NOT”…(itself a horrible distortion of Matthew 7). Not saying that is your necessarily, but have seen that as a general principle in the Millenial Gen.

    I agree with many parts of your original post, especially that there is a tragic and critical problem that has grown over the last 10+ years between the Church and the ‘next generation’ of believers. This is a problem that the Church does seem insufficiently concerned about to their own destruction….and it is baffling to me as someone who has been in ‘volunteer ministry’ for nearly 20 years…focused on College/Career age and Young Family ministry. This is a incredible problem that needs urgent attention…if its not already too late.

    Just a little about me, I’m a IT Sales person by vocation, but have a BA in Pastoral Ministry and have completed extensive post graduate work toward an MA in Biblical Studies from an Evangelical Private University. Before I was detoured by ‘life’, my goal was to teach College at a Christian University. My heart is education/teaching and discipleship of that 17-27 age group. I also am the father of 3 daughters…. 18, 20 and 23 so am in the thick of your dilemma personally as we struggle to find a Church with a vibrant ‘college group’…. basically non-existant in most Churches.

    I also agree with several of your ‘solutions’ and do many of the things you suggest in my personal ministry to the College Groups I lead. Among the good suggestions:

    • Create regular outlets (forums, surveys, meetings) to discover the needs of young adults both inside AND outside the church.
    • Invite millennials to serve on leadership teams or advisory boards where they can make a difference.
    • Hire a young adults pastor who has the desire and skill-set to connect with millennials.
    • Create and train a team of CONNECT people whose purpose is to seek out the outliers on Sunday mornings or during other events. Explicitly teach people these skills as they do not come naturally to most of the population.
    • Stop placing blame on individuals who struggle to get connected. For some people, especially those that are shy or struggle with anxiety, putting yourself out there even just once might be an overwhelming task. We have to find ways to bridge that gap.
    • Create a database of adult mentors and young adults looking for someone to walk with them.
    • Ask the older generation to be intentional with the millennials in your church.
    • Create real and relevant space for young adults to learn, grow and be vulnerable.
    • Create an opportunity for young adults to find and connect with mentors.
    • Create a young adults program that transitions high school youth through late adulthood rather than abandoning them in their time of greatest need.
    • Intentionally train young adults in how to live a godly life instead of leaving them to fend for themselves.

    Where I’d like to challenge you is on your view of the ‘Mission of the Church’ and your assertion that the Church needs to alter it’s mission to, what you percieve’ is the ‘right one’ of ‘Social Justice’ — generally speaking. I’m going to suggest to you that perhaps that dominant milleniel belief (and it is widely held) may not be altogether Biblical Sound. I agree that the Christians are instructed to care for widow/orphan/prisoner…. to love our neighbor’s as ourselves…as you note in your first article, but I have 2 questions; 1) Is that a directive to the corporate Church or to individual Christians? , and 2) Do those commands actually correlate to corporate efforts toward social justice?

    I would like you to consider that perhaps the ‘Church Mission’ that Millenials deeply believe in, and therefore find the Church wanting in meeting, is a distorted (and I’ll argue counter) Mission of the True Biblical Mission of the Church. Perhaps this percieved mission is a result of a confluence of a) the general idealism and desire of ‘youth’ to change the world/save the world, b) the dominence of Social Justice in the Cultural-Political realm, and c) the rise and popularity of ‘Post Millenial’/Dominion Theology Churches ( I will show that the Bible will suggest these are part of the ‘false church’) whose ‘doctrine/theology’ teaches a command to ‘build the Kingdom of God ‘on Earth – i.e. Social Justice to bring Global Peace, Education, Eliminate Poverty, Environment, etc….WHICH will usher in the return of Jesus.

    I’d suggest that the perception of the ‘real mission of the church’ as social justice is 1) not biblically sound, 2) suspiciously aligned with the ‘mission of the World’, and that 3) the Mission of the World is really the mission of Satan – to setup ‘his kingdom’ and rule/reign’ of a global populace.

    I’d challenge to watch this video series – 7 12-14 minute videos. The guy is a little droll, but the information is germaine.

    http://www.christianresearchservice.com/the-church-as-a-vehicle-to-transform-the-world/

    So, First…What is the Biblical Mission of the Church – Matt 28, MAKE DISCIPLES…by 1) Going out into the World…calling people out of the world to saving relationship with God through Jesus and 2) Teaching them – equipping the saints (Eph 4) for ministry (note…many versions translate ‘service’ – in Greek it is service of ministry…doesn’t mean ‘care/social justice’, etc.) We are to call people out of the world (which is destined for destruction) to the Spiritual Kingdom of God…and equip, mentor, mature them to do likewise with Sound Biblical teaching/theology/doctrine. If you disagree, then where in the Bible NT, Epistles, Gospels….where as the Church is being birthed are their instructions about addressing and changing and battling the ‘social ills’ of society. The Bible is actually conspicuously silent on ‘what the world has latched onto as the Church’s role’ or ‘true Mission, when it comes to the poor. Rome was a city rife with slavery and poverty yet there is no call from Paul in Romans to do anything regarding that. Jesus didn’t setup ‘soup kitchens’ and build ‘hospitals’ for the poor…he PREACHED the Gospel, and discipled (mentored/matured) his …. disciples. Where in the Bible is there any indication the Church should be doing that?

    You seem to disparage this ‘Mission’ of the Church and call for Churches to abandon it and focus on ‘saving the world’ through social action, service, care, etc…and failure to do that is turning off Millenials. Perhaps Millienials are not looking for a sound Biblical Mission…but a counterfit one based on the culture/world they’ve been indoctrinated into through public education, media, college, and even many ‘churches’? Not blaming them (if anyone is at fault it is the Church for standing by and not championing a Biblical Mission and explaining why) just observing that the Millenial view could be skewed.

    Second, the ‘new Church Mission’ strangely aligns exactly with the secular/globalist world mission. It is now about ‘social justice’ and ‘unity’ around poverty, care, health, education, environment/global warming – the UN MILLENIUM GOALS – http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ are now the ‘Church’s Goals’….and that is now ‘True Christianity’ — https://www.crossroad.to/articles2/05/peace-un.htm . Sound Biblical Theology, Doctrine are not ‘unifying’…so they must be discarded, the Bible interpretation must be modified and modernized to accommodate the new millennium of enlightenment. It is post modern thinking, meets social justice….meets global unity….. utopia on earth…. Tony Blair’s ‘Faith Foundation’, upon which Rick Warren is on the ‘Advisory Board’ “The battle is focused on combating the intractable mindset of extremist religious groups. Their resistance to the concept of different religions understanding each other and working together as a force for positive social change must be challenged. “ http://www.tonyblairfaithfoundation.org/foundation/our-mission

    Is it not alarming the when the Disciples ask Jesus what the signs of the end would be, he tells over and over about the rise of false Church, False Apostles, False Teachers, and about the falling away of many? Yet in the “church” today we have this movement and mission being driven by the New Apostolic Reformation movement of Bethel/IHOP (7 Mountain Mandate – https://www.gotquestions.org/seven-mountain-mandate.html ), by the ‘Emergent Movement’ of Purpose Driven/Saddleback, Willow Creek (Bill Hybels), (NOTE Tony Blair ‘Faith Foundation’ has direct ties to Hybels and Warren), Redeemer (Tim Keller – very good 3 part article on Keller’s recent book on how to build the modern Church — http://thecripplegate.com/center-church-summary-and-contextualization/ )…clear out to the Rob Bells. Post Modern approach to the Bible, Social Justice, Global Unity.

    All of these ‘church’ movements, focused on ‘social justice’ and building the ‘kingdom of god’ on Earth are building a unified, global religion, world peace, a ‘man made Utopia’ on earth…AND They are looking for this to usher in the ‘return of Jesus’? Isn’t this exactly what the Bible warns will take place as the foundation for the rise of the Anti-Christ? The World’s Mission of Global Peace, One World ‘Faith (unity) is really the mission of Satan, and contrary to God’s mission for the Church of calling people out of ‘this world’ and into the Spiritual Kingdom of God. Again…watch the video series and see if it makes sense.

    One final piece of agreement; We, in the Church, DEFINATELY need to understand the tragic, disaster and dilemma of the exodus from the Church of our youth and we need to do some things to engage and disciple these young people. What we can NOT do is adjust the Church to fit the ‘desires’ of the millennial generation. We need to pour into our youth the reality and TRUTH of the Gospel, in such a way that Jesus becomes the most important and most fulfilling part of their lives. That the passion for Him is what drives them. WE need to mentor and talk about real issues and give them GENIUNE Bible based, sound doctrine, theology and Bible guidelines to address issues of …what I call… ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll’ in my college group. WE need to talk about the hard things and the tough questions….everything from apologetics to defend their faith in a post Christian culture…to sound teaching on sex, relationships, drugs (especially with legalization), the tattoo culture, LBGTQ issues, etc.

    What our kids, the next generation needs is ‘authentic, bible based, theology, doctrine and mentoring’…..not the seeker sensitive, over ‘produced’, feel good drivel that parades as Church on most Saturday Nights and Sunday mornings.. REAL FAITH is the answer, not adapting the message….

    Honestly, I’d rather have kids ‘not in the Church’, than in the false church. The false Church inoculates them against the true gospel and is more damaging imho. Of course, the answer is to actually build into our youth with the whole gospel….sound Biblical Theology/Doctrine, Apologetic Tools to Defend their faith, etc.

    I hope you’ll prayerfully consider my thoughts, review the links, watch the video series and provide me feedback as a brother in Christ.

    • Greg, I believe you hit the nail on the head. If you really want to see what personal (and corporate) revival looks like, read Isaiah chapter 6. We have lost the fear of the Lord in the church and totally focus on His love, and yes, we also neglect His truth. Like Isaiah, in chapter 6, we all need a “WOE is me, I am RUINED” encounter with the Lord, where His truth strips us of ALL of our fig leaves, then and only then are we candidates for grace, for a hot coal from the altar to purge our sin. Only AFTER dealing vertically one on one with our HOLY GOD are we then candidates to deal horizontally with our fellow man, and then THE LORD, not us, will ask “who will go forth for me?” The “here am I, send me” response of sharing the gospel (not social justice issues) is what is desperately needed, for ALL generations. But far to often, the horizontal sharing of “love” with people happens without ever first having having a vertical encounter with the “truth” of a Holy God. Without encountering God before we encounter people, all of our love and “service” towards them ends up being man centered and humanistic in nature, founded in the strength and desire of the flesh, and not born of the Spirit. What is your email Greg? I’d love to contact you. SAM, you would do well to pray over what Greg has said and the videos he recommended.

    • Greg, I AM a Millenial (technically), and though I haven’t researched enough to agree to all without reservation, I find there is a lot of wisdom and discernment in your long comment. I hope Sam has a chance to read and dialog with you. I would like to think that God will continue to build his church of a diverse people, regardless of their age or generation.

    • You seem to conflate loving and serving God with loving and serving the church. This is not the same thing, especially when the church is defined as a not for profit 501(c)3 tax exempt organization with an GPS locate-able address and multiple bank accounts. If the body of Christ is the church, then let’s talk about serving God and loving God by being part of a vibrant community of self-sacrificing servants of Christ.

  26. I have to say that honestly, a lot of what you say is nothing new with the church. I’m 48 and I’ve seen it repeatedly. Several of my family members have experienced outright rejection from the church (including myself). I’ve spent most of my life avoiding church for fear of rejection. Part of it is my fault as I probably don’t engage as much as I should but the struggle is real. My point is that I don’t think this is a millenial problem alone.

  27. Hey Sam!

    Thanks for taking the time to craft these blogs. Really the most impressive thing that you’ve done is provide possible solutions to the issues that you see, and often that important step of application is lacking. Thank you for taking the time to lovingly investigate how the church is hurting the community it is here to serve. The body of the church (it is argued) is universal so we need voices like yours to let the rest of the body know what’s going on. Of course parts of it were painful but that’s because it means we’re not Christlike yet. (Key word: yet.) The church is comprised of broken people seeking to become more like Christ but we often lose our first love, just like the church at Ephesus.

    I am a millennial (although I really don’t fit the associated stereotypes, but really, who fits any stereotype) and I do see the postmodern draw to reason and relative truth rampant in my generation. I would like to add these as underlying reasons for the rejection of the church by millennials. I also note the overwhelming individualism in North America in contrast to the communal nature of Scripute. People (millennials included) need a community. They need a family. They need to know that who they are is enough (just as you said). They need to be encouraged that they have become sons [and daughters] of God (Gal 3). They need to be welcomed into the body, and for that, we need to be a body. We need to be united in spirit.

    I am sorry that no one took the time to ask you how you are doing. How are you doing? Are you feeling loved and supported despite the backlash? Are you pursuing God despite the barriers of the church? Are you seeing fruits of the spirit and being encouraged by them? Dear brother, I pray God surrounds you with the loving community that will someday be achieved in full.

    Thank you for providing insight that has otherwise been obscure. And thank you for loving the Word and the church enough to invest so much time and effort into its correction. Remember a few things: 1) the Pharisees were spoken to harshly because they thought they knew God better than they did, 2) prophets (including Jesus) were treated harshly by those they sought to serve, 3) when the disciples were sent out (Lk 20) they were told to start with peace but wipe the dust from their feet if they were rejected – and if they were rejected, it was Christ who was rejected, and the Father who was rejected.

    Anyway, I hope you feel slightly more encouraged. Please continue to love the church. We desperately need it.

  28. 3 things I learned about Sam when he writes blogs:

    #2 He doesn’t know how to disagree well. As a blog writer who is sharing his thoughts, I would think he would want a dialogue and not a monologue. To purposely censor a response that was biblically sound because he may not agree with it is not knowing how to disagree well.

    #6 He is scared. Afraid of admitting that he doesn’t understand what is happening in our world. Dialogue (not monologue) is what brings about change in the church. Dialogue with the Lord, and dialogue with each other, bathed in prayer, is one of the biggest change agents of the church.

    As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17)

    #7 He will avoid dialoging about gay people and abortion, unless he agrees with your answer, even though he himself brought up the subject in his own blog. Being young does NOT mean you cannot contribute a valid viewpoint to the conversation. But if you are afraid your viewpoint won’t be taken seriously because you are young, that same fear can cause you to squelch the viewpoint of older saints, who once were where you are now, along with decades of experience you do not have.

    I am still waiting for you to even publish my response to your blog, alone with your response to me.

    http://www.recklesslyalive.com/a-beginners-guide-to-ending-hate/

    At this point, I wonder if you will even post this response. I blog myself, and hate monologues.

  29. As a pastor of a basically non-functional church, I crave the article’s challenge you have brought to … well, to me personally. I have forwarded it to my 20 year-old niece and asked her to comment. Our small group of “advisors” will dissect it and go from there. I’ve already decided, due to God’s prompt, might I add, to go sit at Einstein’s Bagels on campus and talk to these college students – maybe even give them a very short anonymous survey and see what I get.

    Thanks more that I can say. Oh, I’m 68 and trying to get our 15 regulars to make a difference in our community.

  30. I love your article about Millenials and the church. And this one. The key for me is this: You are not sick of God or trying to avoid the call of Christ on your life. You are caught up on the idea of God telling us to not neglect gathering together with the church, the body of Christ. This is not the same thing as meeting in a church building on Sunday. The two are miles apart. Much of what happens in a church building is not body life, so much of it is business, corporate exercises designed to maintain and grow the business. My fear is that your article will be read and interpreted as, “If we want to keep our church _________ (choose your descriptor: relevant, progressive, conservative, traditional, important, growing), we need to reach Millenials otherwise how will we pay the mortgage, keep the lights on, fill those empty spots in our nursery program, etc.” Reaching disillusioned Millenials so that the church doesn’t collapse under the weight of its own business model is not the point. And, I don’t think you think it is. But, I am afraid that church business leaders might think these are tips to maintain the status quo by reaching out to the next generation of money/time/resource donors. If we abandon the church corporations, we can still live lives together in Christ, obedient to His Word, fulfilling his mission and vision. We just need to break this cycle of church as business and get back to loving God and loving others in community with the body of Christ. When the words of the Scripture were written, there was not a single church building in existence. The church gathered in homes, outside, or in a public gathering place. Let’s do that and forget about helping the church business appeal to the next generation or about encouraging the next generation to reach out to the church business.

  31. I want you to know what your viral post led to for me. My husband and I are meeting with a few 20-somethings from our church family this week, just a couple I felt would be open and honest and feel safe to share in a small setting. If we 40-somethings are jumping on the tradition bandwagon, or right into the grave, instead of connecting to younger generations, we’d better not complain about the young people’s lack of involvement. Our own kids are ages 9-18. I want to create a culture where they will want to stay involved in ministry, even if it’s not at our church. I want them rocking their world for Jesus. I want them to feel heard and valued. I want to find the solution, not complain about the problem.
    Thanks for your part in pushing me to initiate these conversations.