This year has been quite an eventful one. I haven’t been writing because honestly, there’s just too much going on and not enough time to address it all. I was suffering from overload and a severe case of writer’s block. But then I saw this on Facebook and I knew it was time to pick up my pen again.
“The more Christians I meet, the more I wonder if I REALLY want to spend eternity with these people…”
Needless to say, I felt this on a spiritual level. I don’t even want to go to church with these people. How am I supposed to make it through eternity?
I’ve decided to leave that to Jesus.
It seems to me that people are (finally) starting to acknowledge the slow trickle- excuse me, mass exodus- of young adults from church. Every once in awhile, a brave soul comes out and explains why they have stopped attending. That person is often met with rebuke, criticism, and some version of, “Well, are you you going to church for God or the people?”
The overall sentiment is, something must be wrong with those who walk away. They aren’t “spiritual” enough, are focusing on people, and/or don’t want to make the necessary sacrifices to be a Christian. The problem is obviously with them.
No, maybe something is wrong with us.
Our churches are filled with racism, sexism, bad theology, and people who are out right mean. One Facebook saint blatantly told me, my generation has no “right” to church leadership because Millennials are lazy and don’t pay the bills. She could not have been older than fifty.
I know the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers are often problematic but Generation X is outta control too. Old Town Road might have become a hit just this summer but they’ve been singing, “Can’t nobody tell me nothing,” for years. The entitlement, politicking, and arrogance…I’ve digressed.
My friends and I have discussed countless times why we’ve stopped going to church. One answer stuck out to me the most. Recently, a friend responded, “Because we’ve been sitting in church our whole lives.”
Either you got it or you missed it.
That’s all we’ve been doing. Sitting.
We’ve sat through three hour services, dramatic business meetings, and waited for our parents to get out of those church board meetings that ruin your whole Sunday. My dad had to get a gavel to keep the saints orderly in board meeting. You think I want to be a part of that?!
You see, we were taught that Sabbath is a day of rest. Yet, we came home from church at the end of the day exhausted. We were proclaimed as the church of today. But we weren’t and still aren’t allowed to do or change anything. We were told to love your neighbor as yourself. And then instructed to avoid and look down on those very people. We were trained to pretend when we watched our parents act one way at church and then live a totally different life during the week.
And now that we’re approaching thirty, we’re over it. All of it.
That doesn’t mean we don’t love God. It doesn’t mean we don’t have a relationship with Him. It doesn’t mean we’re not committed to fellowship and community. We just don’t want it with y’all.
I recently watched a panel discussion on the topic and one of the panelists said something profound. She said the church has to decide if they actually want Millennials and the generation behind us. If so, people will have to intentionally make space for us and that means a sacrificing preferences.
When the saints put tradition over people, hold on to a rigid faith, and are unwilling to change or even compromise, they are telling us, “We don’t want you here.”
So we left. And are leaving. And will continue to leave.
And some of us who have left are now thinking about the possibilities of creating something authentic. Because we love God. We care about people. We want community. We just don’t want to be a part of a toxic one. My mental and spiritual health are more important than sticking around a place where I can’t grow, thrive, or use my God given talents and abilities.
So I won’t argue with the saints anymore. I refuse to spend my time trying to explain why we’re past overdue for a major shift. I am no longer interested in fighting in and for a system that doesn’t want to change. Why should I have to beg for people to make space for me? I can put all that energy into something new. So I’m out. And in the words of Mason Ramsey, “If you ain’t got no giddy up then giddy out my way.”