I recently happened upon an article on FaithIt.com about how more and more millennials are throwing in the towel when it comes to church. Yep, it was one of those posts. I have to give credit to Sam Eaton, though, for pointing out twelve key reasons why this is happening, before offering solutions to them. That’s what this conversation could do with more of – constructive feedback as opposed to baseless insults. (Not to mention, the whole thing was really well-written.)
However, I had to take issue with the whole premise of the article. There was something about it that I just couldn’t ignore.
Eaton seemed to be implying divides in the Church. Older people and younger people. Lay members and leaders. Us and them. His point seemed to be that the problems experienced by the younger generation fall at the feet of the others in the Church, who supposedly haven’t done enough to address them.
What this suggests to me is that Eaton doesn’t view himself and others like him as a full part of the Church. It’s as though the folks he was blaming are the ‘core’ members, without whom the Church would fall apart, and everyone else can choose to come and go as they wish without real consequence to the larger movement. The older folks are the ones who control how the Church is, and the younger generation doesn’t have any input; it’s almost as if they’re customers who can come and go as they wish.
In truth, though, the only person without whom the Church would fall apart is Jesus Christ. Everyone else is His temporary priests here on earth. And every single member is a valued individual with something to give, even if they don’t stand behind a lectern and preach every Sunday. At least, that’s how it’s meant to be.
Sam, if the current state of the Church turns you off, there is nothing to stop you from changing things. If you want to be part of a Church that feeds the poor, accepts all new members and mentors them, then you strike me as the ideal kind of person to start the ball rolling. The Church changes when its members change, not the other way around. If the leaders don’t listen to your complaints as they would another leader’s, then that’s entirely on them; it has nothing at all to do with the model of Church laid down by Christ in the first century. And who knows, if they saw you doing the things you say the Church needs to start doing, maybe they’d take heed.
It’s time for a new model of Church. One that doesn’t distinguish between leader and lay congregant, between old or young, between us and them. One where everyone’s voice is heard, without exceptions. And this requires all of us to re-adapt; to shake off our superiority and inferiority complexes alike. Millennials like myself have got to start believing that we are as important to the life of the Church as anyone else, contributing to how the Church does things, instead of waiting for the other members to notice us.
“Do not let anyone treat you as if you are unimportant because you are young. Instead, be an example to the believers with your words, your actions, your love, your faith and your pure life.” (1 Timothy 4:12)