The Establishment! The Church! & Millennials

   I first want to thank Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources for his recent article as to why millennials do not want to work in established churches. I am thus inspired to comment and promulgate my own thoughts. The reason I do this lies in the fact that Mr. Rainer has articulated quite well, some thoughts that, I believe, transcend a number of generations.

   First, while Mr. Rainer appropriately approaches millennials with his piece, I believe his points of observations can easily be applied to other generations, including my own; the baby boomers.

   Via observation and hearsay, I note that people leave the church every week, just as I did some thirty plus years ago. We all leave for our own personal reasons. I believe, however, that several of the reasons Mr. Rainer cites describe many, even from my baby boomer generation.

   On a personal note, I must say that I fall into both his first and second points; in addition to a few others not listed here. As with most military-life children, I moved often, not just from school to school, but from church to church. In reference to his first point, I certainly would agree that at least the churches I experienced, were not much interested in community focus or service to others.

   These churches to which I personally refer were very much so into servicing their own members within the church. They did well in a myriad of gatherings, separating the appropriate age groups into their own relevant events.

    As I recall, my experience was that these churches were very good at promoting socialization among members. From the traditional pancake breakfast to teen dances in one of the Sunday school classrooms.

    I spent my early teens as a member of a church youth group.  During that time, we did venture out a number of times.  We spent those times, usually, in Baja California; handing out Spanish bibles door to door. We also spent time at several orphanages, focusing on building projects and spending time with the children in our down-time.

   The reason I mention my experiences is because looking back on them, everything we did, participated in or worked on was all but devoid of the adult members of the church. Those of us in the youth groups had witnessed no modeling of service to others or community outreach.

   In other words, as it seemed to me, whatever community service or other outreach programs there were, was strictly a “youth endeavor;” not participated in by adult members of the church who gathered in another room for coffee and cake.

   While motives might have been good ones and while some hearts may have been in the right place, the simple fact that the youth had nothing to witness of the adults did not bode well. It appeared to be a case of, “do as I say, not what I do.”

   Had there been outreach and community service performed by the adult members of the church, it was certainly unknown to us. Of course, as teenagers, I’m sure we weren’t concerned much about what the adult church members did. However, looking back on it now, what did we really witness?

   As Christians, must not our lives be an example that others can witness? Shouldn’t we adults openly model the behavior we expect our youth to follow? We adults can say all we want, but if we don’t outwardly model the service, we are mere hypocrites. (James 1:23, 1 John 1:16)

  Too many churches today, as well as established ones that have been around for generations, simply spend too much of their time worrying about who is in charge, and whether or not we approve of what our pastor or priest is going to share in his sermon. Does one need to be an expert on churches not know this? I don’t think so.

   Organizationally, churches tend to operate just as corporations do. Our first concern is for how much money we can bring in. The second is who will be in charge. The third is how to benefit from the money.

   My sarcasm is about to become apparent as again, it doesn’t take an expert to watch a church spend tens of millions of dollars on their building, instead of using that money to feed the poor, house the homeless, community service, etc. We surely need more buildings like the Crystal Cathedral, don’t we? One can only imagine the dollars required to maintain such a palatial church building.

   I’m not trying to be mean and I don’t mean to single out the crystal cathedral, but it is such an icon that so many relate to or know of. I have been there. I have listened to Dr. Schuller, Sr. He certainly was a passionate man, more passionate than most pastors and priests I have heard.  But I certainly think that he allowed the “organizational” structure of the church to get way out of control.

   My point is this; look at what this structure, the crystal cathedral models.  Do we see a church concerned with community service, mission, and outreach; or do we see concern for ensuring we have the grandest church building in California?

Stay tuned for part II of this article.

Original  article by Thom Rainer:

©2017 Clayton Moore


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