Updated: Feb 4
Over the past few weeks I have seen blog shares on Facebook which focus on the “issue” of Millennials leaving the Church and them being unimpressed with any of the efforts by Church leaders to bring them back. The common theme in these posting has been to list the “Top 10” reasons why this phenomena occurs, or why none of the efforts to stem this tide are working.
I have tried to comment on some of those blogs, only to find out the blogger has stopped blogging or the blogger does not know who I am, therefore has nothing to say in reply to my comments. I feel dialogue is key to solving all problems; but, perhaps, those blogs are for fans that are only supposed to see how valuable to society a smart blogger is, and never to counter anything posted.
For that reason, I decided to post my own observations as to why anyone leaves a Church, and I consider Millennials to be part of the whole that includes “anyone.” I welcome comments and question, even outright condemnations (if the urge strikes).
I will preface my comments with the admission that I am as far from being a Millennial as can be. I am sure there is some dirt that is younger than I; but the one thing I can say, which Millennials cannot truthfully say, is, “I have been there, done that twenties thing, and, as a mid-lifer, I have not forgotten what it was like being young … once.”
A random 60’s yearbook example, but not me.
When I was 15-16 years old, in high school, I stopped going to church. From birth (in the church nursery), until then, I had gone to the same church four times a week: Tuesday nights, Friday nights, and twice on Sunday. It was a Pentecostal Church denomination. After all that presence in a church, I was well aware of what it meant to be Christian, albeit the watered-down children’s version, the one that did not yet require extensive Bible study, on an adult level.
From my young perspective, which I imagine is similar (if not exactly the same) as that perspective held by today’s Millennials, I saw hypocrisy. I heard all of the good of Christianity and believed it wholeheartedly. I never questioned anything, until I was literally slapped awake and my eyes were opened.
By literally slapped awake, I mean I was a member of the new youth group our church had begun. Because I was the oldest boy in that group, and because I had been born and raised in that church, I had a position of leadership, although that was only personally held and generally tied to peer pecking order. At a meeting one Tuesday night, the adult leader of the group left us boys alone while he went to tend to some adult business. As boys will be boys, the younger ones were noisy and easily excited. From my “more mature” position, I remained a model of how to be quiet and reserved. It had no effect on anyone, but I was comfortable quietly talking to a younger boy, as the others ran around and played indoors.
The boy and I were talking about baseball. The Atlanta Braves had a pitcher at that time named Phil Niekro. He threw a knuckleball, and I had seen him on television showing how to throw one. I had practiced throwing a knuckleball while playing “pitch” with a neighbor boy. This younger boy I was talking with had not seen how he threw the knuckleball. So, with a wadded up piece of paper, I demonstrated how the ball was gripped with the fingernails, and then when pitched there was the action of extending the fingers, so the ball was pushed away from the hand by the fingers.
I was making this demonstration in slow motion, with no intent to throw a wadded up piece of paper and expect it to act like a thrown baseball. However, as I extended my fingertips, the piece of paper flew out of my hand and went about ten feet across the room.
Just as the wad of paper took flight, our adult leader came back into the room. All he saw was a thrown piece of paper. Embarrassed, I smiled and immediately went to pick the piece of paper up. Before I could reach the ball of paper, the adult came rushing up to me and slapped me across the face, and I do not mean he softly tapped my cheek. I believe the term “bitch slap” fits what took place.
Again, not me being slapped, but for demonstration purposes.
I do not recall the physical pain of a slap on the face. I do recall the shock of having been slapped, as no one had ever (family included) slapped my face before. I recall, more than anything, that I, as a 15-year old leader of a church youth group, with all the other youths younger than me and seeing me as a model, had just demonstrated and they witnessed me being slapped hard in the face. I felt as if I had been reduced in stature to a dog that had peed the carpet or bit the mailman. Completely humiliated, I ran crying from the room and found a dark hiding place to sit alone and cry some more.
It was only after I had sneaked into my mother’s car and gone home, without confronting anyone at that church about that slap, that an awareness began to come to me. It dawned on me how the message of Christ said nothing about slapping boys. I remembered Jesus said “turn the other cheek,” but was I supposed to let the man slap me again? All I could see was hypocrisy, even though I probably did not yet know the meaning of that word. That fellow Christian never gave me the benefit of the doubt. He never asked me to explain what had happened. He never showed patience. He never apologized for himself having had a bad day, causing him to snap at me when I had done nothing to anger him. All I remembered was I would never again show my face to anyone in that church congregation.
Now, in hindsight, from the perspective of an adult, I have come to understand what happened to me. It was an act that needed to happen in my life. I needed to be led away from the church at that time. I needed to do a quest for truth and enlightenment, which took me on a journey that lasted decades. Therefore, I caused my own banishment, because my childish innocence was connected to Christ, and I needed to find him elsewhere.
As of now the journey continues, but I have returned to a church, although it is of a different denomination and for different reasons.
In my quest for truth I have found that anyone (including Millennials) whose eyes are opened so they can see is bound to see any Church as corrupted. Just as was the Temple and Judaism during the days of Jesus, Christian churches are just as blinded to its own flaws and faults. Being Christian is not about going to a building that nails a dead Jesus to a cross. A true Christian church is not filled with members who proclaim to be Christian, while often failing to act like Christ.
The actual Church created by Christ meant ALL members were Apostles, male and female. That means everyone calling him or herself Christian was a duplicate of Jesus, through being filled with the Mind of Christ, with God in their hearts via the Holy Spirit. Every Christian was and must always be a reproduction of the Trinity – God + Christ + Holy Spirit – in a body whose brain steps aside consciously, willingly allowing this holiness to happen within.
When Jesus explained, “A church is whenever two or three people gather in my name, there I am with them,” he meant, “Whenever two or three people who are filled with the Holy Spirit gather to honor Jesus Christ, they will each be a representation of Jesus Christ within.” This means a “Church” is not a reproduction of the Temple, led by people who knew nothing of spiritual matters, because none of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. A member of Christ’s Church is the living presence of Christ within one of his fruit.
This means that EVERY Christian is a priest to God, through being Christ reincarnated. Christians die as their old selves, to be risen like Christ, as Jesus. Thus, there is no need to reproduce an external priest, rabbi, or Pharisee, as someone other than Jesus who will be the one upon whom all hopes of salvation lie. A priest in a Church is no more than a Pharisee IF that person is not TEACHING all in the congregation how to be filled with the Holy Spirit, each then becoming a self-sufficient priest him or herself.
The result of this realization is that EVERY Christian father and mother is meant to be THE priest to their own children. Each family is itself a “church” to Christ. Thus, all children are intended to be taught to be filled with the Holy Spirit by their parents, which means they have been so filled prior to having children. The responsibility of parental teaching is not meant to be passed on to some relative stranger, someone who always maintains a “holy distance” from those not within his or her priestly family (other priests from a school of priests). In denominations where a paid priest is allowed to have his or her own families (spouse and children), they too are not expected to accept the children of others as if part of their natural family. This is a flaw in denominational representation of holiness, where teaching cannot ever be taken away from the parents. When a child is raised to rely on this so-called presence, an external representation of the Holy Spirit to teach our children, with the parents nothing more than more sheep on the pews, it is only natural for God and Christ to call those children away from that corruption, in order to save them. Their innocence is closer to heaven than that of worldly adults.
The problem, as always, lies in those influences of evil who are always lurking and seeking to wrap their tentacles of human intelligence around the innocent, in order to draw them away from a quest for truth. Evil hopes wayward children never find their way back to Christ, so they will never be able to experience the bliss of the Holy Spirit.
So, there it is. Read it and weep. We are failures as denominations claiming Christianity, which never know the true beauty of Christ within. As such, we drive our children away.
However, if you want this all summed up in a list, then here are my “Top 10” reasons why Millennials are not going to church:
Hypocrisy in people calling themselves Christian, but failing to understand what that means.
Not being able to teach spiritual matters because church leaders are not able to explain the Trinity or the Holy Spirit so it is believable to adults.
Putting all value on a church “front man,” without setting any expectation that all members must practice what is preached. (Or, not being able to pick who will preach on any given Sunday from the “holy hat of priestly members.”)
Glorifying a building as holy sheepfold, and then milking the sheep for money to keep up the maintenance and salary costs.
Teaching about false shepherds and then letting the wolf inside shine forth.
Expecting members to be in only 10%, and then counting that percentage in dollars, euros, pounds, or pesos … monetary denominations.
Fear; that giving our children their inheritance early, so they can squander it all on a sinful world, will never have them return with gladness in their heart for forgiveness through the Holy Spirit.
Being blind, deaf, and dumb to the faults of a church, refusing to listen to the voice of reason spoken through the children.
Failing to open the eyes, ears, and hearts of children through truth and demonstration, when they have been misled by their peers.
Expecting Children’s Bible Studies to be the sole source of Scriptural awareness, as if learning the foundation of one’s belief ceases at adulthood.
I could go on, but ten is enough to make the point.