Leaving Church Is Not OK

short term mission groupThere’s been some buzz on the Internet this past week because of an article at CNN Belief Blog entitled “Why millennials are leaving the church.”

The idea is, church is this way and it really should be that way, but pastors aren’t getting it, so millennials are leaving. There have been articles rebuffing the conclusions, notable from
Trevin Wax
via the Gospel Coalition and posted at ChurchLeaders and Brett McCracken at the Washington Post.

Last I checked Scripture, though, severing an arm from the body would only make things worse, not better. So why are millennials leaving the body to which they belong? Are they so selfish that they have no interest in fitting their gifts into the whole or have they been so poorly taught that they don’t realize their withdrawal is harmful to others and to the whole? Or are they not actually part of the body to begin with?

I suspect it has more to do with teaching than anything else. I suspect there’s a certain portion of the millennial exodus that is nothing more than fad chasing. At one point the author of the original article said “church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular,” then she explained that liturgical services are more authentic.

Excuse me? How does that make sense? What is more performance oriented than a scripted service with everyone playing his part? But if the conclusion is true–millennials are choosing liturgical worship over evangelicalism and calling it more authentic–then I suspect it is little more than following a fad.

According to the author, millennials want an end to culture wars, but she also says they feel their church makes them choose between compassion and holiness and that church should be a place where their gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender friends feel welcome. In other words, millennials don’t mind choosing between compassion and holiness if they get to choose their version of compassion.

What millennials need to hear is that it is not compassionate to allow people to live according to the dictates of their own heart rather than according to the standards of our sovereign God. What millennials need to hear is that God has answers to their questions and that they need to search the Scriptures to see what things are true. What millennials need to hear is that believers form a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.

The Church is not a club you can quit. It’s a family, a body, a temple, a bride. We have a head and we have a a role we are to fulfill. We have gifts we’re to use as good stewards to build each other up.

Quitting? Do Marines quit because they don’t like military food? Or the Sargent in command over them? Or the soldier lining up next to them? Or the early hours they must keep?

Millennials are not children. They can decide, just like any generation, whether or not they will take up their cross and follow Jesus. If they don’t see other people in their local church following Jesus, perhaps they can be the trail blazers. But leave the Church?

That’s simply a way of saying God has messed up. His plan to put together a people to represent Him on earth isn’t a good one, and we are going to go it alone instead.

Does Church have to follow a certain Western model? Of course not. The Church existed in the East before it existed in the West. And it exists in the Far East today where there is no freedom to worship as we can in the West. What does the Church look like there? Not much like gatherings of believers in the US, I’ll bet.

Is one right and the other wrong? Not at all. Church really is about substance, not style. That’s something the author of the article got right. The substance, however, includes Christ living a sinless life, leaving us an example to follow in His steps. So the Church is tasked to be both compassionate and holy. It’s not an either/or proposition because Jesus wasn’t compassionate and not holy. His example was both/and.

In the end, millennials need to be told the truth. If they have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of God’s dear Son, if they believe with their heart and confess with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He died once for all, the just for the unjust, that God raised Him from the dead, and as a result that Jesus nailed their certificate of debt to the cross, then they are living stones being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices, well-pleasing to God through Jesus Christ.

In other words, they’re in.

If people are leaving, they need to be evangelized, not accommodated.

Published in: on August 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm  Comments (16)  
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There Is a God and He Has a Son

There has been a great deal of discussion among those in the Christian writing community about “Christian fiction,” and now it would seem there is even a discussion of what it means to be a Christian. I ran across an interesting post via Looking Closer Journal, Jeffrey Overstreet’s blog. I’m referring to sometime-Christianity Today-movie-reviewer Brett McCracken’s post Christianity 101: Exclusivity.

In this article McCracken lays out a well-thought explanation of the exclusive nature of Christianity, and don’t ya know, one of the commenters took exception:

For many christians, historically and currently, exclusivism is not a tenable position. There’s a huge body of theological work surrounding this issue

Well, no wonder people become atheists or even deists. I mean, if all gods are the same, and we have these insurmountable problems that we can’t control, and everyone’s in the same boat, then how could you believe in a god who gives a rip.

The claims of Christianity separate from the claims of other religions, not at the cross so much as at the manger, though the two really are a package deal. No other religion has God taking the form of man in order for humans to have a relationship with God.

Some religions think Man can become god-like, some think Man can do what it takes to become presentable to God. What these belief systems miss is how Other God is from His fallen creatures. His holiness is perfect. So is His goodness. And His righteousness. Who is Man to think he can enter into the presence of perfection with his “Yo, God, did ya catch me doling out my change to the Salvation Army bell ringer” attitude.

Man buys into universalism, in my opinion, because he does not recognize his own spiritual need. After all, we’ve grown up hearing “I’m OK, you’re OK.” One thing that almost always raises hackles is the notion that Man is sinful. Sure, no one is perfect, but, hey, we’re all good. Huh? There’s a disconnect between those statements that doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Anyone believing in universalism, that is.

McCracken’s conclusion was right on, I thought:

the final solution, in Christianity’s view, is none other than Jesus Christ himself. Not just the general, social reform causes he championed, but Jesus Christ the man: God incarnate. He offers himself to all—no matter where you where born or what you have done—and in that way he is the most inclusive.

I realize some with Calvinist leanings will differ with this last statement, but the first, I believe, is essential.

I was thinking about this in regards to Dr. Flew who I wrote about in yesterday’s post. Here’s a man who holds to the David Hume need for empirical evidence to support his beliefs. But God gave empirical evidence by sending His Son. He sent corroborating witnesses who wrote down what they observed. He sent a visible representation of His Holy Spirit, and that too was recorded for history. What other god has reached down to Man like that to make himself known?

Of course, the ultimate capper was Jesus The High Priest and King becoming the Sacrifice so that sinful Man could come into the presence of Holy God. That’s what Christianity is all about. As McCracken alluded to, it is not an organized religion advocating that people imitate Jesus. It is a relationship with God that spurs us to the love and forgiveness of others we have first experienced from Him.

So, back to what is Christian fiction. 😀

Published in: on November 8, 2007 at 1:44 pm  Comments (20)  
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