Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN
(CNN) – At 32, I barely qualify as a millennial.
I wrote my first essay with a pen and paper, but by the time I graduated from college, I owned a cell phone and used Google as a verb.
I still remember the home phone numbers of my old high school friends, but don’t ask me to recite my husband’s without checking my contacts first.
I own mix tapes that include selections from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but I’ve never planned a trip without Travelocity.
Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I’m often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.
Armed with the latest surveys, along with personal testimonies from friends and readers, I explain how young adults perceive evangelical Christianity to be too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
I point to research that shows young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness.
I talk about how the evangelical obsession with sex can make Christian living seem like little more than sticking to a list of rules, and how millennials long for faith communities in which they are safe asking tough questions and wrestling with doubt.
Invariably, after I’ve finished my presentation and opened the floor to questions, a pastor raises his hand and says, “So what you’re saying is we need hipper worship bands. …”
And I proceed to bang my head against the podium.
Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates – edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.
But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.
In fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular.
Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions – Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. – precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.
What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.
We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.
We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.
We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.
We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.
We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.
You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.
Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.
Now these trends are obviously true not only for millennials but also for many folks from other generations. Whenever I write about this topic, I hear from forty-somethings and grandmothers, Generation Xers and retirees, who send me messages in all caps that read “ME TOO!” So I don’t want to portray the divide as wider than it is.
But I would encourage church leaders eager to win millennials back to sit down and really talk with them about what they’re looking for and what they would like to contribute to a faith community.
Their answers might surprise you.
Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Rachel Held Evans.
I've got no problem with Jesus, it's his fan club I can't stand!
Millennials are leaving the church because they have sat at the feet of skeptics, liberals, Bible deniers, liberal educators and Hollywood elites via Glee, Will & Grace, Ellen, Seinfeld, and so many shows with entertaining gay characters who surely must be "born that way." They have been propagandized to believe that Jesus was only about acceptance, love, hanging out with sinners and chastising the Pharisees whom He called hypocrites. Their Jesus has no standards of right and wrong –except the wrong of thinking you are right for believing the Bible. They believe that Jesus is "liberal" which comes from cherry-picking from the scriptures while they accuse the devout of doing such "cherry-picking." Jesus was on the side of the poor –in commanding that we share and be compassionate toward the "have-nots" and "have-lesses." He did criticize the rich. But He didn't recommend confiscatory gov't that steals from the people (his tax collector-turned-disciple repented for such theft.) He didn't say there would be no judgment for not investing the master's talent with which we servants are entrusted. He confirmed the teaching of a Heaven vs. Hell. He didn't say all the poor and sinful people would go to heaven while His followers and the righteous would go to Hell. He said REPENTANCE and HUMILITY and BELIEF are the requirements for Heaven –and generosity and friendliness, too as in Matthew 25. He didn't re-define righteousness –(or marriage) –he fortified the definition of marriage in Matt. 19:4-6 –as in Genesis. He said the Church would suffer for righteousness' sake and for faith in HIM. And so we are –starting in Iraq and Iran and most Muslim states. But also here –with the hostility of the rainbow crowd and abortion advocates expressed toward any who disagree –which Bible believers do. We are supposed to practice PC speech only –or they say we are racists and bigots. I feel the hatred toward me –not from me.
Ladies and gentlemen: This is what "bearing false witness against your neighbor" looks like.
As their version of Jesus says, "Unless ye become as a braindead bigot, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."
I guess this proves George Bernard Shaw's point: "I have nothing against Christianity. I just think it's never been tried."
If you want to find the REAL gospel, this soul missed the train entirely. Pray for her
Yep. You're a perfect example why I don't do church. Who would want to be associated with someone like you? Why would someone want to believe what you believe? I'll pass.
Reblogged this on A Klutz's Kerfuffle and commented:
I'm not one who has necessarily left the church, but I am nowhere near as involved as I used to be and it's because of a lot of the reasons listed here. It's refreshing to know that so many others feel the same.
I wonder if Rachel Evans is aware that a BS meter is often a mere reflection of personal prejudice or a lack of appreciation for not understanding she is doing her reflection in a void?
It seems to me that each of us has his/her own prejudices, opinions. I accept that the opinions expressed in this article is an honest expression of views based on her experiences and discussions with others..
In my opinion, the comment that “they don’t find Jesus there” carries a lot of weight. We may have the right doctrine and even the “works”, but unless Christ is there, people will not be drawn to the “church”.
The distinction between “Christians” and the world has become so blurred that one now has to ask somebody “Are you a Christian?” People find the world in the church – so why would they change from what they know for just more of the same?
in addition to my last comment, evans want to put the blame upon the churches instead of people like herself. they can do all that she says in the church but they don't want to because they do not like what scriptures says and they want to change scripture to fit their personal ideas.
You are wrong. Young people are shedding religion because they know it's all manmade bullsh!t, without any actual evidence for any god.
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. – 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, NKJV. – stop being at war with your creator and be reconciled to him. we want to save your soul and do not want your eternal separation from God. you are gnashing your teeth now because you have no hope, but it doesn't have to be that way. Jesus Christ offered Himself up as a sacrifice for you too!
Too much unnecessary capitalization.... too much BS...
BACKBIT, Jesus loves you too even though you deny Him.
Consolation prizes from myth-makers are of no use to me...
Yea...but there are some people like myself that find the idea of vicarious redemption (scapegoating followed by blood sacrifice) to be morally repugnant. So please don't be offended when I tell you where you can stick that offer of 'love'.
that is exactly right theo. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." 2 Timothy 4:3-4, NKJV
yeah, Satan put a lot of that kind of stuff in the bible when he inspired it to be written, to deceive you. He's tricky like that.
Paul might as well have been saying, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. The Great & Powerful Oz has spoken!"
Paul was afflicted with an itching tongue.
TOTO, Jesus Christ loves you too even though you are at war with Him. Seek Him earnestly and He may forgive you.
rachal held evans is wrong. people leave the church for many reasons but the most important one is that they do not want to obey God or believe the bible. they want science over God's word and do not want to make choices that mean they have to sacrifice
Reblogged this on Stephanie the Senior.
RIGHT ON post! Exactly on point. Christians support dogma more than people, and doctrine more than love. Jesus would have nothing to do with the fundamental Church as it exists today.
I didn't just leave the church because the hypocrisy of the body of Christ, I left because I've done actual research on the bible, which it seems many Christians haven't even done. There are astounding amounts of Christians who hear the bible is a book of god and haven't even read the new testament all the way through, forget about old testament other than maybe Genesis or Exodus. Modern day Christians seem to completely disown the old testament, but love the new testament. You can't get to point B without starting at A. Reasonable modern scholars admit that the old testament is a mixture of things being story, history of a tribe, poetry, and people trying to understand their place in the world. There is little to no evidence of the existence of Moses, Abraham, or Noah. Yet when you get to the new testament, Jesus speaks of people living in the absence of god before the great flood of Noahs time. If this was indeed god himself, then why would he allude to a past event that he knew didn't take place in Noahs time, if Noah even existed in the first place? There is the extremely unnerving reality that all 4 gospels have no real credible authorship, other than what the early church labeled the gospels as being wrote by. Which brings up another interesting problem. If the gospel was spreading and was accepted by so many, then why doesn't the early church have any clue who wrote the actual four main gospels of the new testament? They should be the first ones to know who wrote them! Especially because those churches were established by the disciples themselves according to the bible! Let's also add in the basis of Christianity, Christs death and resurrection. This echos a widely told Greek tale at the time of the gospels, The Odyssey. Odysseus was thought to be dead, went to Hades, and came back to life 3 days later. This would have been a widely known story told through Greece, where Jesus or at least his disciples would have known the tale. Then there is the destruction of the Pagan religions and cultures that Christians have caused over time. The mark that the three Abrahamic religions has left on the word religion alone has made it so difficult for those who seek god outside of them, that they can't say they are religious, they have to go with a new word, spiritual. Whether it be belief in modern pagan traditions, eastern teachings, or whatever else you want to believe in, you can no longer say you are a religious person without people assuming you are at the very least a Christian. Do your homework on your own religion before you start bashing people on their personal life choices.
I've done actual research on the Bible and its' validity for a number of years. We do know with great certainty the authorship of the gospels. Jesus spoke authoritatively about the Old Testament and He didn't have to allude to it. He confirmed the existence of Adam and Eve, Moses, Noah, the prophets, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc. I would recommend you read some books by Norman Geisler and also Cold Case Christianity by Warner Wallace as a start for some good evidence. I cannot and will not excuse the hypocrisy of some Christians but overall, Christianity has brought a positive change to the world for many people over the centuries. People always point out the bad but the good definitely outweighs the bad. Please read some books by these gentlemen with an open mind and reconsider. I ask that God brings you a better understanding and provides you with the evidence you need to see.
What an accurate article, well done.
(these 4 were the same article, not sure if you could just use the one response I gave or if I need to do more, I just have no idea what they are talking about lol)
Reblogged this on perfectingasaint.
She may be in a State of Panic, anxiety or even mass hysteria. She may be having bad dreams about it, but those who really Trust in God and in Jesus Christ God's Only Son WILL NOT Panic.
Only BEGOTTEN Son.
"Anyone who follows the spirit of God is the son of God."–Romans 8
Well I don't know about her, but we all should be in a state of panic over the cave man delusions people are falling for these days. Has anyone seen christian prophecy teachings on tv lately?
To be fair, by the 4th century the Pope still hadn't decided if Revelations should even be put n the Bible. It's really not compatible with the Gospel. Real Christians focus on the Sermon on the Mount, mean-ass loonybin pseudo-Christians focus on Revelations. An ugly violent future-tripping piece of crap, except for a few lines.
Personally, I think John ate some bad pizza and had a nightmare, then marketed it. It should be called the Book of Bad Pizza.
Typically I would ignore such subjective criticism of the Book, but I'm just deciding to educate the doubters today. When Jesus is seen, His clothes are seen as a symbol of His power over the Church, they resemble those of priest's. When Jesus said He knocks on the door, it is the door to our hearts, and the destruction that happens shouldn't be an excuse to insult the validity of the Book.
There's such a thing as sacred insults, holy insults, insults that make God laugh and sing.
Self-seriousness is a sign of spiritual deficiency.
"Why is it people think that because I am not solemn, that I am not serious?"
"I have nothing against Christianity. I just think it's never been tried."
–George Bernard Shaw, the most successful playwright since Shakespeare,
and a sacred clown if there ever was one.
Usually I don't eat beef, but sacred cows are my favorite food. It's a holy duty.
Only the heart is sacred. The rest is pretentious pomposity.
The people who decided what books went into the New Testament, and which would be left out (including the brilliant Gospel of Thomas), were highly fallible human beings with an agenda that was anything but pure.
And if you don't know Greek and Hebrew, you've never read the Bible. You've read a translation of a translation of a third hand account. Did you ever meet the translator? Was he God?
Now I dig Jesus, and Paul and James and John had some real zingers too. But truth is in YOU (the Logos, the REAL son of God, as in John 1, horribly translated as "In the Beginning was the Word"–ah no, that's not what Logos means at all, and not what John meant at all. That's why I say, you've never read the Bible. QUACK!
Truth is not ink on paper. The word "dog" will not guard your house, the word "food" will not fill your belly.
Friggin' clowns. Only the "peace that passes understanding", "heaven within you" is the truth. Words are only words.
And no scripture, no religion, no belief system comes within miles of the reality of God within you.
"You don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows."–Gospel According to Bob
"I thank you Father, that you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual, and revealed them unto babes."
Which scripture do babies read? The Gospel according to WOW.
They are leaving because Religion is no longer relevant to modern life.
Ah, Dawkins and the funless mentalists are flip sides of the same coin. Equally dogmatic, equally unwilling to do a real scientific exploration of the God question, of whether the Universe has a Consciousness. Who's the biologist whose team created the first cloned human embryo? And who helped cut post-heart surgery deaths in half, with Christian Baarnard? Now he's got something called "biocentrism", is it? The idea that our consciousness is completely distinct from the body, in fact completely distinct from time and space. HE'S got something to say, beyond the pseudo-scientific materialism of Dawkins et al. The hallucination that there is such a thing as a solid, objective material universe, and that we can perceive it through the senses. Dawkins' dogma. 19th century stuff, a true dinosaur, pre-quantum, pre-string theory, a real sleepwalker. Yes, we are inches away from scientifically discovering "God", meaning Consciousness beyond all form. This is gonna be fun. "Biocentrism", I think that's the word. Let me go find the biologist, hugely successful guy. And one of the biggest names in stem cell research.
I don't agree totally with Dawkins either – I read The God Delusion as well as Sam Harris' book The End of Faith, and I doubt total materialistic atheism is the truth- not everything that exists is material. I just like how Harris and Dawkins expose the moral and intellectual bankrupcy of modern day religious fundamentalism.
Modern science is only a model of reality. It is not reality. All myths are a model of reality, a way of explaining.
And so-called "paranormal" phenomena which defy materialist dogmas, are everywhere.
My father's stepmother was Vaughn de Leath, said to be the first person to sing on radio, in 1920. She invented "crooning", later popularized by Rudy Vallee and Bing Crosby. You can hear her at the beginning and end of "Cider House Rules".
One day my father was out in the fields, and he heard Vaughn say "Gordon!"
He ran back to the house, and said, "Did you call me, Vaughn?"
"Not audibly," she replied. She and my grandfather were into that woo-woo stuff, as Sam Harris contemptuously calls it. Hey, Relativity is pretty woo-woo. Who would believe it if we didn't know it was accepted truth, from Einstein?
That kind of practical woo-woo is normal in my family, and my life. There are worlds and worlds beyond the materialist myth.
Joseph Campbell, tongue in cheek, defines "mythology" as "other people's religion". Our religion, our myth, is real of course. ;) And the idea of a material universe with no conscious Creator and no purpose, is just one more mythology. There's nothing scientific about it.
Is there a reality beyond ALL myths? Ah, that's what we're about to find out. The REAL science.
Yeah, its got to be something. That's for sure
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biocentric_universe–the idea that Life transcends the universe. The scientific approach to God.
"I had therefore to remove knowledge to make room for belief"
If you are a born again, evangelical, pentecostal bible believing Christian who believes in hell, watches Daystar, and likes reading Left Behind, please listen to these points.
Your God knows everything and declares the end from the beginning, He knew everything that would happen and predestined who would be saved (Romans 9). The "elect" are saved and those not predestined are sent to hell. (Like it or not this is what "God's word" says) So, God ordained everything and deluded humans into thinking they had free will, when in reality every event, thought, and action was caused by arbitrary decisions that God made before time began, including salvation. So your being saved from hell or condemned to hell is based on an arbitrary decision that has already been made.
In Matthew 7, Jesus says "nice try, but I never knew you." You can try avoiding "worldly" pleasures, and "die to yourself", but it is not possible to know if you've done this well enough to hear "well done faithful servant". You may think you know, you may feel holy or pure, but you really don't know- to know which way God decided heaven or hell before time began requires infinite knowledge, which only your God has.
I'm not trying to be rude, I'm just stating observations about how evangelical theology is a philosophical impossibility unless there is no free will and God makes people sin and go to hell. If there is a less moral view out there I haven't found it yet.
Ugh, don't conflate "evangelical" with "fundamentalist". I tend to think that Rachel Held Evans is evangelical in the truer sense of the word and that's not a bad thing. Get past the hijacking that televangelists have done of the term in the last 30 years.One can be evangelical and still be non-biblical-literalist high church Protestants (take the ELCA for example)
Jimmy Carter was the first evangelical President in modern times, and he's the real deal. Many of the rest wouldn't know the Gospel if it sat on them. Aligned with greedheads, mass murdering militarists, and bigots.
"God told me to blow up hundreds of thousands of civilians and make millions of others homeless. And to lie about the reasons with fake intelligence."–George W. Bush
"Gen. Rios-Montt of Guatemala is in favor of human rights and democracy."–Ronald Reagan, the same week that the General's troops grabbed dozens of children by their ankles and bashed their brains out.
On and on and on. "By their fruits you will know them."
As a millenium, I simply just think that the church worries to much about docterine instead of the core of Christianity. Also, they judge if you follow anything else. I strongly believe in God and the Bible but I also follow the teachings of Buddah. Buddism isn't really a religion but rather a lifestyle and extreamly supplemental to Christianity. There is actually a theory out there that Jesus actually went east and spoke with buddists during the gap of time where we have no record of where Jesus was, because, when he returned his teaching lined up with those of Buddah. Also, I just want people to understand that God is a supernatural being and therefore, by having us put everything spiritual in a box is counterproductive. We need to be open to divine intervention instead of just interpreting things so literally. It's OK that the Bible mean different things to different people because we need to feel personally convicted by the holy spirit.
There were Buddhist missionaries in the Eastern Mediterranean long before Jesus, and some of his teachings are word-for-word identical to the Buddha's. Where he differs, is in the focus on physical miracles and heaven here on earth. "As you believe, so it is done." Healings, being taken care of, "Take no thought for what you shall eat...and wear."
God so SO far beyond any human concepts, religions, scriptures, beliefs. It is the height of arrogance to think that our interpretations and ideas about God are within miles of who God really is. Words are only words.
"I thank you Father, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual, and revealed them unto babes."
Right but in reference to what Jesus highlighted as being the most important concepts, where also what Buddah spoke on the most as welll. Buddah emphasized on concepts very similar to divine intervention and miracals just with different terminology. You should read "Living Buddah, Living Christ" It is a phenomenal book. I think you might actually enjoy that book. Written by a Buddist Monk who spent time in a Catholic Monestary.
We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers..............
This is impossible with any religion........YOU MUST HAVE PREDETERMINED answers...otherwise god is not god....undetermined questions means god is fallible and didn't create the world correctly....ie...he makes mistakes....that's a NO NO.
That's Western religions. The meditation-oriented ones are not about dogmas and beliefs, They're about letting go of dogmas and beliefs, and discovering by your own experience, the heaven or liberation within, the "peace that passes understanding." I believe so was Jesus, but the followers and control freaks took his teaching somewhere else. It's still there, hidden between the words, beyond all religions or beliefs, the real-deal Gospel, "love your enemies", "as you do unto the least of these, so you do unto Me,", "get the log out of your own eye," "let him who is without sin cast the first stone," "judge not," "do good to those who hate you," "heaven is at hand/within you/in your midst/does not come with observation/is not a place, it's a state"–all the stuff that "Christians" ignore in favor of pie in the sky when you die, God's gonna get you if you don't toe the line, wives be subservient to your husbands, and all that dogmatic BS.
I point to research that shows young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness.......
ONE HAS TO UNDERSTAND religions are about total and absolute control of the individual ...look at the MORMONS and all the new religions that SPRING UP IN THIS COUNTRY.... you don't see this is Europe...it's mostly about the IGNORANT IN THE SOUTH AND MID WEST IN THIS COUNTRY...they're terrified through the use of shame, guild and being born with sin...lololol...the religious organizations are the BEST WHEN IT COME TO CONTROL THROUGH FEAR.....republicans come in a distance second....but they catching up fast.
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