As a millennial, I try to keep with the times in how I dress, how I cut my hair, and how I decorate my home. I like fresh, clean, modern design. I love the minimalist lifestyle.
But when it comes to church, things are not as cut-and-dry as many seem to expect about a millennial church goer.
Contrary to popular belief, I am not attracted to the church that is all contemporary and modern; that is not what I look for. At the same time, I am not drawn in by a traditional church that sings only the hymns and stays as old fashioned as possible.
You see, both of those churches can be susceptible to the same major problem.
THE MODERN CHURCH that spends thousands on lights and works tirelessly with the worship band might operate under the delusion that those things make them relevant to the younger generation. They might rely on the well-rehearsed band to knock out a stellar performance of the hottest new songs, the expensive lights to create just the right mood and ambiance, and the latest programs to provide an immersive experience on campus. They might hope these things will attract young millennials like me.
There is nothing wrong with lights and programs but for all the professionalism—and despite nailing an immersive experience—the authenticity is lacking in such a church. It’s big, it’s impressive, but it’s empty.
THE TRADITIONAL CHURCH is not always better. This church might sometimes function as if the hymnbook and three piece suit is what makes them more spiritual and brings them closer to God. They might take for granted that, because this is how they’ve always done it, this is the way it should always be done. They might do what they do in order to make a statement: “we refuse to change in any way.” They might hope that their hard-nose stance against contemporary worship will somehow prove their devotion to God.
There is nothing wrong with hymns and suits, but for all the conservatism, the authenticity is lacking in such a church. It’s traditional, it’s pretty, but it’s empty.
I’m not saying that all modern and traditional churches suffer from this condition. Rather, I am saying that these are problems that both churches can potentially face; I have seen it firsthand in both. The problem is not so much what they are doing, but why they are doing it.
Some churches seem like they are more concerned about attracting a certain type of crowd, whether they are modern or traditional, and they lose sight of why we are here in the first place. The key to grabbing my attention as a millennial is to be authentic. Do not do things “just because.”
Above all, be there to worship God, not just to attract me.
Above all, ensure that it is powered by prayer and the Holy Ghost, not the stage lights and the sound crew.
Above all, keep the attention on Christ. It is not about us, it is all about Him.
Yeah, churches say that cute line all the time: it’s all about Jesus. I really don’t think churches believe it, though; it’s about attracting people. That’s why they’re struggling and dying. Offer a beautiful performance void of the Spirit and you will attract beautiful people who are void of the Spirit. They will come for your specific style and want nothing deeper, nothing real.
Instead, if you are authentic in your passion to exalt Christ through the power of the Holy Ghost, then…
• I won’t mind if you have a worship band on stage
• I won’t mind if you have no musicians on stage
• I won’t mind if you sing only new songs to the Lord
• I won’t mind if you sing only the old songs to the Lord
• I won’t mind if you have stage lights
• I won’t mind if you have chandeliers from the 60’s
Do you see the point? The latest style and the greatest presentation is not what people need today. It’s not what we want today. We want Jesus. We want authenticity. We want something that is real.
We are dying to see something real.
Jesus said that if He is lifted up, He will draw all men unto Himself. It’s not our job to struggle and strain to draw people to church. Put that burden back on Christ; that’s His job.
Just be real. Be authentic. Show us Jesus.
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