Millennials: Why Are They Leaving the Church?

Most recently, while reading through comments made by people I follow of Twitter, I read the following comment from a 26-year-old female. “From now on, I’m not replying to criticism. The churches obviously don’t preach the truth anymore, there’s way too many patting on the back and tickling ears going on. That’s why I don’t go. I just read my Bible and pray for understanding.”

My reply to her Tweet was, “Please be open to find a church. The Word states do not forsake the assembly. There are Bible believing churches. Send me a PM and I will help you find a church in your area. Blessings! See Hebrews 10:25.” Hebrews 10:25 reads, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Many others responded similar responses.

Her response back to everyone, “I’m sorry to have to say this, but if anyone has one more know it all thing to say, I’d rather that you didn’t reply to me at all. I don’t want to hear it. I’m fed up with your attitudes, none of you know me in person. I hate sounding mean, but do what you tell me and judge yourself.”

I did respond back to her, apologizing if I had over stepped in my comment. I said that I would pray for her and that I would ask the Holy Spirit to go and minister to her.

After reading this, it has made me wonder why many Millennials feel this same way? As a transformed man of God, I love people and genuinely care for their souls and their well-being.

The Bible is very clear that we as Followers of Christ are not to forsake the assembly. Let us review some Scriptures that deal with attending church and meeting on a regular basis so that we might encourage one another.

Hebrews 10:24-25, “24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Ephesians 4:11-13    And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

Acts 2:42, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it.”

Acts 9:31-32, “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”

Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

2 Timothy 4:2, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”

Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Attending church is vital for one’s growth as well as encouraging one another. It is essential to our walk with Christ. The Gospel is for all to hear and we as Followers of Christ are all called to priesthood, to take the Gospel and share it with others. See 1 Peter 2:5, “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

The Church needs people who will come and contribute, not only their tithes, but more of themselves for the cause of Christ. If you want to see change in the church that you yourself criticize, then you need to become engaged so that you can help bring to light what you find offensive or what you deem to be a fraud. Please do not judge all assemblies and congregations by only one or two pastors who may be teaching heresy. Yes, the “Truth” should be taught and preached. Anything else is heresy. If it does not match up to Scripture, anything else is heresy. Yes, I said heresy several times. Hopefully, it will be driven home!

As I was writing this piece, the young lady responded back and wrote, “It’s not your fault, there was some others that offended me, it wasn’t you. God bless you brother.”

What I do know is that young people are leaving the Church. What they are embracing is not Christianity. We as Christian leaders must do a better job in reaching these people for Christ. We must be teaching and discipling young people with the truth of the Gospel, not some watered-down version to tickle the ears of congregants. If we truly want to see Millennials come back to the Church, we better start taking seriously what Christ has called us all to do, not just sit in the pews as the status quo, thinking that is the Pastor’s job! No, you are wrong in that thinking! It is EVERY CHRIST FOLLOWERS JOB! It’s time to get off the pew and get to work! Don’t be known as a sleeping church, but as a Body of Christ that is on fire for God.

John 4:35, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” The fields are ripe for harvest. Stop preaching sermons that tickle and fancy others with a political correct message, but preach and teach TRUTH, the Gospel of Christ, God’s TRUTH!

You can follow this author at @JosephTLee on Twitter or on Facebook @JosephTLee777.

Copyright © March 12, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times; a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Which Is More Foolish: Millennials or Preaching to Them?

I enjoy driving, maybe not as much as some, but probably more than most.  However, when I was young I wasn’t all that interested in learning how to maintain cars; consequently, I learned some very expensive lessons.  For example, engines must have 3 essential liquids if they are to run very long; they are fuel, oil, and coolant.  When it comes to engines, only having 2 out 3 is a very bad thing.  Of course, if you had to choose one of these essentials to run out of, then the best choice is gas.  That’s because once your run out of it then all you have to do is add more and you’re back on the road.  But if you run out of oil or coolant and keep driving, then your engine will freeze up and be ruined.  That, my friends, is a costly repair, so costly it may even mean that your car is totaled, depending on its value.  When it comes to driving there are some things that are essential if you want stay on the road.  The reality of “essentials” is everywhere in our lives, but occasionally some think it fashionable to challenge their importance, and those who do so inevitably run the risk of ruining the very things they claim to value.

Recently I read the online article titled “10 Church Activities That Need to Go.”  Keeping up with current trends in ministry is important, so this article piqued my interest.  The last item on the list of things that churches need to jettison was “sermons.”  First of all, that someone would make such a suggestion, or that an “online Christian media leader” such as Crosswalk.com would allow it to appear on their website is symptomatic of the spiritual decline and biblical illiteracy of our time. Nevertheless, I can relate to the problem that Millennials are experiencing in many of today’s churches, which is that pulpits are filled with people that they aren’t worth listening to because they really have nothing of significance to say.  Regrettably, what occurs in many pulpits today amounts to little more than religious speeches.  Ironically, the solution promoted by the author, Lindsey VanSparrentak, is to simply get rid of sermons altogether rather than replacing pastors that are ungifted, disinterested, or poorly trained with respect to effectively communicating God’s word.  It’s kind of like what we are experiencing with respect to the NFL and the protests during the national anthem.  Some have actually suggested that the “solution” to this controversy is to stop playing the national anthem before the games.  Now there’s a thought.  

Regrettably, VanSparrentak apparently is unaware that she’s attacking God’s primary method for casting vision, educating, evangelism, and discipling the church at large. Paul made it clear that God has ordained the method of preaching to bring people to faith (1 Cor. 1.20-25).  Moreover, the Spirit inspired Paul to tell his disciple Timothy, and by extension all future ministers, God’s charge to “Preach the Word!” (2 Timothy 4.1-4).  God has ordained that preaching the scriptures is a paramount method of communicating His word to His people.  And, at the risk of being obvious, sermons are the product of Christian preaching, plain and simple.  And to be clear, we are talking about preaching, not “sharing,” “suggesting,” “informing,” or “lecturing” about God’s word.  To preach means to “publically proclaim” the good news of the gospel; to forcefully assert with conviction the truth of God’s word; and to implore God’s people to conform to His will.  To put it another way, preaching is not the dissemination of recommendations and suggestions, it is publically announcing the word of God “in and out of season.”

Nevertheless, VanSparrentak’s justifies doing away with sermons in the church in favor of adopting more effective educational methods because apparently even universities are moving away from lecture based education models.  First, writing as a professor I must say that this is certainly not the case, there is no mass movement in higher education away from lectures as a foundational educational tool. Regardless of VanSparrentak’s assertion, even if it were true, she has unfortunately made a category mistake.  The church is not a university, and God has ordained that what may work in secular institutions does not apply to the body of Christ, which is the church.  And is precisely Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 1.20-25.  In this text Paul explained in emphatic detail that God has chosen what the world deems foolish (i.e., preaching) in order prove wrong what it views as wise and erudite (and this includes whatever educational models Millennials are currently advocating). Moreover, the greatest spiritual renewals throughout human history came about with sermons being a major method used by God to reach both his people and the lost.  Moses, the prophets, Ezra, Peter, Paul, Chrysostom, Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, Whitefield, Wesley, Edwards, Moody, Spurgeon, Graham, Criswell, and Falwell all regularly preached sermons and were used greatly by the Lord. And lest we forget, even Jesus preached sermons; so I ask, what would Jesus do?

I must admit, however, I can relate to VanSparrentak’s frustration with the educational ineffectiveness of many of today’s churches.  If you are only listening to one sermon a week, and you are not involved in any relevant small group Bible studies (the operative words being “relevant” and “Bible”), nor are you being discipled by someone of greater spiritual depth and biblical literacy (which is probably the experience of the majority of those attending church), then you are probably seeing very little spiritual impact for Christ in your life, your church, and your community.  And that is especially true if your church is being held captive by weak lay leaders that tolerate inept pastors giving sermons devoid of scriptures.  If that is your experience, then only the Lord can help you.  Nevertheless, the Lord himself used several different educational methods throughout his ministry, one of which was regularly preaching the word of God.  Of course he reached people while also utilizing different instructional methods as well, teaching them both individually and in small groups, as well as engaging in interactive “ask and answer” discussions.  Consequently, if we know how Jesus engaged in ministry, should we excuse ourselves from doing any differently?  Should not our Lord provide for us the educational models that we should practice and master? The problem is not that the time for sermons has expired, the problem is with those pretending to be preachers and/or with those tolerating their irrelevant Bible-less sermons.  

Without question, preparing and communicating weekly sermons that are fresh and relevant is a difficult task.  Moreover, communicating God’s will to those living outside of it makes preaching a more daunting task. So daunting that many pastors have become jaded; consequently they provide “sermonettes” that are entertaining, less threatening, and harmonized with the greater dominant culture.  In other words, many pastors tend to sanitize their sermons of things that our unbelieving culture finds offensive.  In today’s churches, pastors dare not sacrifice the world’s sacred cows; consequently, they have unwittingly become cattle protectors instead of shepherds.  The result is that they have ceased being effective spiritual leaders; consequently, they have stopped providing reasons for anyone to listen to them.  I generally do not recommend books in my blogs, simply because I find that most people aren’t all that interested in reading substantive books.  Nevertheless, I’m recommending one that is on my top-ten list of books to read for both layman and those preparing for ministry, and it is Stott’s book Between Two Worlds, and I recommend that you read its first edition (i.e., 1982) instead of its politically correct revision.

Ministry is difficult enough, and it is made even more challenging when people uncritically accept man-made premises about how to do God’s work. There are some things that God has ordained as essential to biblical ministry, and one of these essentials is the preaching of sermons.  To those who have made the mistake of concluding that sermons are no longer foundational for effective ministry, but instead are actually an impediment to building relevant churches, all I can say is that you are building your houses upon sand.  While your “groups” may grow and enjoy the momentary success that comes with being fashionable and popular, they will not last.  They will not endure simply because they are not built upon the foundation of God’s wisdom. As Paul put it, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.”  Ministries built upon man-made wisdom are not biblical ministries, and if your church is not built upon the foundation of God’s word, then one has to wonder if it is truly a church at all.

Dr. Monte Shanks, © 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.