Why The Church Should Stop Worrying About Millennials Leaving
As a millennial, former youth pastor, and lead pastor of a church plant, I want to offer a fresh perspective on the issue of young people leaving the church in America today. Over the past decade, I have heard a ton of statistics on why millennials are leaving the Church and what the Church needs to do in order to survive the mass exodus. I have appreciated some of these earlier studies because they brought to light some important issues that were plaguing the Church and called the Church to reformation. I agree that if local churches do not stay humble, keep innovating, focus on mission, and deliver the Bible in relevant ways to the next generation, it's only a matter of time before those churches die out. This is why I feel called to church planting and desire to see churches grow and flourish for the good of others and glory of God.
"I agree that if local churches do not stay humble, keep innovating, focus on mission, and deliver the Bible in relevant ways to the next generation, it's only a matter of time before those churches die out."
However, in recent years, I have heard more and more opinions on why millennials are leaving the church, where the church continues to get it wrong, and how the church needs to stay relevant or stop trying. As a pastor, this type of attitude and discussion grieves my heart because I believe much of it dishonors the Bride of Christ and enables younger generations to continue in their pride and rebellion. Not to mention, that it regularly and unfairly stereotypes certain churches and denominations. When I was younger, it was easy for me to critique the Church as outdated, irrelevant, or whatever else allowed me to justify my entitlement. I wanted a reason to reject the life-transforming message and accountability of the local church. But since I entered vocational ministry close to five years ago, my perspective has drastically changed. Now, as a 24-year-old-mellenial-pastor, I hope to offer some insight on why churches need to worry less about losing my generation and focus more on preaching the gospel to all generations.
"As a pastor, this type of attitude and discussion grieves my heart because I believe it dishonors the bride of Christ and enables younger generations to continue in their own pride and rebellion."
It always kind of irks me the wrong way when I hear about "all the millennials leaving" because the statistics don't apply directly to me or any of my closest friends. Instead of running away from God's Family, we have all committed to "being the change" in it. Rather than leaving the Church, we have all helped shape it's future by living out the principles of the Bible and working hard to see God's kingdom advance. One of my best friends is a missionary, another a worship pastor, another a college pastor, and the list goes on. Now, I understand that my friends and I might be the exception to the rule, but the point is still true that those who stay faithful to Christ stay faithful the Church no matter their generation. [Hebrews 6:10]
"...those who stay faithful to Christ stay faithful to the Church no matter their generation."
You see this all throughout the scriptures with examples like Joshua, Daniel, David, the disciples, Timothy and more. The Bible is filled with stories of young men and women who stayed faithful to God, His Word, and His people no matter the culture our circumstances around them. [Dan 3:16-18] Even when many or most walked away, these young believers wouldn't budge but instead called generations to repentance and revival. [Acts 3:24-26] Today we're afraid to even sneeze in church because it might offend someone and churches are told that they need to be more and more trendy. It seems like every where I look there is a new formula to adopt, conference to attend, or system to apply. It's almost as if no one has stopped to ask the question, "What if the problem isn't the Church? What if the problem is us?" After all, we ARE the Church. The Church is made up of people and people have problems. What if the real issue is is that people natrually avoid God's presence and pull into the shadows like our ancestors Adam and Eve? [Gen 3:8] What if the problem is that my generation is lazy, entitled, prideful, and "prone to wander" just like every generation before us?
"What if the problem is that my generation is lazy, entitled, prideful, and "prone to wander" just like every generation before us?"
I find it hard to believe that genuine, orthodox, Christian churches are what's standing in the way of young people staying committed to God. Why don't I read more posts about Satan's deception and the world's vices to destroy any and all allegiance to God and His Church? Have we neglected or forgotten the evil forces at work to sway my generation into thinking we don't need the Church? [Eph. 6:12] I mean I know the Church has issues, but don't we all? We don't abandon those we love at the first sign of frustration or let down. But instead, we lovingly lead, support, and serve them to bring about spirit-led change and transformation. My generation needs to wake up. We don't need to be consoled or coddled; we need to be convicted. Millennials need exactly what every generation needed before them: to receive the gospel, repent of sin, trust in Jesus, and faithfully serve in a Bible-preaching local church until their last breath or Christ's return. [Matt. 24:13]
"Millennials need exactly what every generation needed before them: to receive the gospel, repent of sin, trust in Jesus, and faithfully serve in a Bible-preaching local church until their last breath or Christ's return."
I think it is important for us to understand that it's not the Church's job to ensure that people stay faithful to God. Each individual has a responsibility to make that choice under the conviction and leading of the Holy Spirit. [John 16:8] We must stay focused on our task and not get distracted by the enemy or discouraged by our presumption. If we presume that it's our job to ensure people's faithfulness, we will be disappointed every time. Even our Lord Jesus recognized that Judas was going to betray Him, but instead of trying to convince him otherwise, He simply said, "do what you must do and do it quickly." [John 13:27] He didn't allow the disloyalty of people to distract Him from the objective of the mission. Our job is simple: preach Christ and Christ alone. Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone of the Church and preaching Him and His Word is the key to reaching every generation with the good news of the gospel. [Eph. 2:20]
"Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone of the Church and preaching Him and His Word is the key to reaching every generation with the good news of the gospel."
We we must never forget the truth: it's God's responsibility to save, the Church's responsibility to share, and the people's responsibility to stay. It should be encouraging to remember that, in the end, the Church will not fail to accomplish God's purposes in reaching the elect across all nations, peoples, and generations, [Matt. 24:14] and if the gates of hell can't stop the Church, than neither can the millennials. [Matt. 16:18]
"It should be encouraging to remember that, in the end, the Church will not fail to accomplish God's purposes in reaching the elect across all nations, peoples, and generations."