When I look around at church I do not see myself. Growing up all the way through college, I saw other people like me—at similar schools, in similar walks of life, and now that I am later into my 20s the number of people my age attending church is increasingly dropping. Millennials seem to be scarce and it is hard to know why or how to fix it. Best friends I grew up with in Christian schools and at church voice their inability to feel connected or engaged.
In no way am I trying to point fingers at the local evangelical American church. We are all on the same team, we all just want to know God more deeply, for Him to come alive to us in new ways, and to a generation that seems to be fading out of our churches, I long so deeply for real change to be made, instead of chalking it up to the fact that they are self-entitled millennials.
Unless the person who just gave their life to Christ is diligent to go find a mentor, the pattern can be that they give their life in this grand moment, but when nothing in their personal life really changes without real discipleship or learning, after a while they feel discouraged, they give up and leave. We call millennials out for being self-entitled or inwardly focused and yet this is exactly the culture we are creating for them when we keep making our church services so dedicated to making people feel comfortable. Of course we want to invite in new people, but if we are consistently focusing on numbers and not on really learning the Bible, then aren’t we only raising up more and more confused Christians?
It is beautiful how focused we are on getting people in the doors, but my concern is in the lack of attention and care that goes into getting them to stay there. In efforts to seek something out that is real and genuine, it can be discouraging to attend a service where you can slip in and out with ease. I’ve been in church every week since I was born, I grew up a preacher’s kid, in private Christian schools and graduated with a Bible degree. Yet there is still so much about the Bible I don’t know and want to be taught, so I can only imagine how overwhelming the Bible can feel to people who are brand new to the faith.
I understand that so much of life is what you put into it, so if a millennial feels disconnected at church, they need to seek out a community group, a place of service or a mentor on their own watch. But I’m longing to see more churches take an emphasis on helping take the lead in the areas of mentorship, discipleship, in-depth Bible teaching courses and accountability.
We tell people if you want to go deeper that’s what community groups are for, that’s what studies are for and I fear we are not leaving room for the Holy Spirit to show up in a powerful way in the actual church service because we are too attached to the time on the clock. How beautiful would it be if our lights shined so brightly for the Kingdom that new members would come in and be able to tell a very tangible and evident presence of the Holy Spirit and of something greater, something Kingdom focused taking place, something different from what the world offers them.
We must get away from the celebrity of it all: staff elevating projects over people, churches desiring to be replicas of each other.
God is not a brand. God is not a title, why do we limit Him in the same boxes? He is infinitely creative, the world is filled with what the world has to offer, so the Church is filled with what the world could never offer, where the Holy Spirit and His presence means everything. Where pretentiousness is silenced, where the cameras do not tempt our hearts to look inward, where the desire is to connect and not to hide. Where discipleship and love are never compromised, where the hard questions are taught, where skin is blended, where prayer is everything, where self-promotion is extinct.
It is of upmost importance that this generation does not stop trying to go to church, to get plugged in, to speak out on what they are looking for, to be the change, to the lead the charge on knowing Christ in a deeper more intimate way, by simply speaking up.
is a Bible major with a minor in theater from Oklahoma Christian University, who has partnered her love for the Gospel and arts on creative teams in churches for the past decade. She is stepping into her lifelong dream of writing and her own website is currently in the works. She is married to the love of her life Zane Tarver, where they reside in lovely Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.