I felt so popular in the last few weeks. I am a Millennial. I go to church. I care about the church. I serve the church.
Recently, the internet has exploded with reflections and thoughts about my generation and the church. It all started with an article that Evangelical Writer Rachel Held Evans wrote on the CNN Belief Blog called “Why Millennials Are Leaving the Church”, which you can read here.
202,000 facebook users shared her post. She wrote about what the church should become to attract people in our generation (loosely categorized as the generation after Gen X, folks born in the 80s and 90s). Rachel suggests that the church should focus on being authentic and open, intellectual and holy, but most of all: attentive to the desires and trends of the Millennials.
Brett McCracken wrote a response to Rachel’s essay in the Washington Post On Faith blog, which you can read here.
Thousands of facebook users reposed his article too. He suggests that Millennials do not have it all figured out, and the church should actually stand up to us and our demanding, self-centered ways.
Both articles are well written, thoughtful, and equally worthy of consideration.
And on my little blog, in my own little way, this is what I would add to the conversation of Millennials and The Church: we need each other.
The Church needs young, fast-paced, energetic leaders who can start the church twitter page and preach the good news of acceptance, grace, and open doors. We can bring new eyes to the sanctuaries and grand foyers and parables that just might enliven our faith exploration in The Church.
But as a Millennial, the biggest gift the church has given me came in the form of touch. Real touch. The week my grandmother died, facebook messages and texts came in by the dozens, but I needed that warm, grandmotherly hug from Dot Williams when I showed up at Lindenwood. I needed to hold the hand-written note from Lucy and Ralph Black that shared honest words of encouragement. The Church touched me.
When a man shot crowds of people in Aurora, Colorado last summer, I needed to turn off the constant commentary and catastrophizing on the news and experience the touch of the quiet, holy space of our prayer room in the church. I longed for the timeless sacred walls to wrap around me and give me a place to weep, to pray and to just be. Through the prayer room, the church touched me.
When me and my fellow Millennials engage in friendly, yet fierce digital competitions of showcasing our prestigious jobs, or seemingly superhuman fertility, or picture perfect weddings, or beautiful McMansion homes—one upping each other and comparing ourselves to one another in our Instagram posts and personal blogs… I have needed the church to show me images of the kingdom: people old and young, vulnerable, struggling, humble and collaborative. Inside our doors- the artificial ‘competitions’ fade away and I get to sing “It Is Well” with my fellow seeking, broken, evolving, willing, and raw brothers and sisters in Christ. This is how the church touches me.
Millennials might help the church stay relevant and prophetic and global… but for me- one Millennial seeking wholeness in this fragmented world- I love the Church Touch.
The church helps me step outside of the instant, distant, technologically clogged world of the Millennials. But more than this- at its best- the church reaches in, past my cheerful facebook posts and guarded tweets, past my fast paced façade and ambitious tendencies- and the Church touches my spirit.
Yes, the church needs us Millennials. But I know, deep down, I sure need The Church touch.