This last week I learned that having been born in 1980 I am right on the line, classified by some as a Gen X’er and by others as a Millennial. It doesn’t really matter. Some say it is only the younger generations like mine that are leaving the Church, I say it isn’t limited to age at all. Some aren’t present even as they “actively attend” and I think many are missing the point as they argue over details.
Some will dismiss what I will share here as the musings of a no-body who could not possibly understand the complicated litany of reasons this is happening. I would counter by saying it is just like Jesus to use no-body’s like me.
I have spent the last year asking, listening, watching and learning about why people leave the Church. I have been listening and here is what I have heard:
Hurt. Hurt. And more hurt by all sides, like a live channel with never ending streaming content.
There was a long list of other reasons given, some regarding lack of faith, some about disagreements, personal preferences, etc.
All sides seem to have a long list of reasons to answer why we are leaving the Church. I think all of those “reasons” are just the symptoms though, they aren’t the root cause.
I think it really boils down to this: It is about people not being seen, not being held, not being heard, and not being loved.
I simply believe this- if Jesus followers stepped up and loved in the radical way that Jesus modeled and taught we would not be able to keep people OUT of church.
There is no such thing as a perfect church, true. However, show me a spirit-led church with solid, healthy leadership, serving the needs of the people, equipping and training the congregants, and loving people right where they are while never hiding from the messy-hard and I will show you a church that is growing.
A few churches are doing this REALLY well, most aren’t.
Distract them with their issues, their selfishness, their pride and they will be useless– I can almost hear the enemy whisper.
Blinded, we are.
To everyone, people are going to hurt you, we humans tend to do that. We get to choose to be the walking wounded or to be free. I am deeply sorry you have been hurt, I have too. And we have all done the hurting at some point in time. Imagine if we allowed room for God to actually use it all for our benefit, even the most ugly, like He promises? Imagine if we deal with our issues instead of playing with masks to wear? Stop running from the hard stuff, you are a warrior.
Leaders in churches, it starts with you. You can only lead to the level of freedom you yourself have obtained. No one is expecting perfection, which is impossible, so cast away that lie. Our most basic need is to be seen, to feel valuable, and to be loved. Love covers so dang much it is mind boggling. We need you to be striving to be an example worth following. How you treat those you want to lead and those who seek to help you matters profoundly. Stay humble and teachable. Don’t play favorites. Rely on Jesus (I know you know this but do you actually do this?). And lastly, teach everyone else how to go and do likewise. Already know and do all of this? Awesome. Would all the people not trying to kiss up to you agree with that?
Jesus followers, what are we doing? I can leave “a church” but I could never leave THE Church. Why? Because I LOVE the people- imperfect, messy, broken, Jesus-died-for-each-of-them people and I deeply love Jesus. His example is THE example, He is the goal, the Church is His beloved. As hard as it may be at times, we are meant to journey together. You know what is great about 2019? We all have access to opening the Bible and digging deep into scripture. We have access to more information than any generation before us. Our journey with Jesus is first our responsibility. What are we doing? Are we running after Jesus, after truth, after freedom? Or are we making it all about ourselves and whatever sounds good to us? Time is short. It is time to grow-up, put on our big girl/boy pants and go deep with Jesus. Through Him we can do this radical love thing, instead of a judgy, I have-to-stay-in-my-comfort-zone, it-is-all-about-me thing. Jesus didn’t say we wouldn’t get hurt. Love costs us, it cost Him. He said it would be worth it. Weary? Take a nap and then go deeper, don’t get going. We are failing a world in desperate need of us showing up and being the Church that Jesus has called us to be.
An Observing No-body Who Has Been Changed by Jesus