This is a tough post. Most aren’t so tough. Most posts on Brave Daily are a step removed from anything happening with me personally. I know, we often talk about faith and church. We even draw the line between books that we are reading and lives that we’re leading, but seldom reveal our wounds bleeding. To call today’s post a result of a bleeding wound may do it an injustice but there may be readers who can relate to or grow from what’s on my mind. That being said, allow me to share.
First, and this is the first time that many will hear the news, my wife and I are transitioning away from our church. While this post will touch on some of that transition specifically, it is much more about the bigger picture of when to stay or leave your local body of believers. I was involved in the discussion when the church began to form several years ago. I sat in prayer meetings and traveled to leadership retreats before the preview services. I agreed to both oversee the Young Adult Ministry and within the last year to serve as a deacon. And we have decided that we will no longer call that church our home. Before I go on, a quick note…
Just Another Millennial Confused About Church?
I’m a millennial. I’m one of those Generation XYZ folks, the “twenty-somethings” or the “consumer-driven-and-parent-dependent-undependable-emotion-driven-yadda-yadda” people who everyone from the Washington Post to Christianity Today wish to understand. Media tells us that millennials are leaving the church in droves, that we would just stick our butts in the pew if we get what we want, and that we think the church is irrelevant. All the while, I think that TIME was closest to hitting the nail on the head when concluding in How the Church Can Get Millennials Back: “In the end, it’s pretty clear: If Christianity is to have a renaissance in the United States, it must get back the source and the summit of the faith: Jesus of Nazareth.”
At Church For the Right Reasons
I firmly agree. I couldn’t agree more, actually. I think millennials are leaving in droves to find Jesus. I think what we really want, really need, is Jesus. I think that Jesus is always relevant. This transition of ours is a delicate matter and a difficult discussion to have and not point fingers. That said, I am not making implications about the church that we’re leaving. In fact, my wife and I have both realized and confessed that we likely helped plant that church for the wrong internal motives. We wanted to be part of something bigger than us. We sought out community after a difficult move from Chicago to Ohio. I sought out a ministry position after seven and a half years of intensely studying God’s Word. Leader, have you ever been in that position? We were selfish. We were self-focused. We wanted to belong. We wanted to succeed. And we felt great making the commitments, to both serve in leadership positions and to belong to a tight community. The leadership role came, while in a way different than imagined, and strong relationships formed. Mission accomplished. In fact, leaving our friends is the toughest of tendons in this transition.
Jesus Loves You and His Church
But those things do not sustain you. Nothing sustains you outside Jesus of Nazareth. I have got distracted and I miss him. So why the extreme of moving church families and not just withdrawing from ministry and starting over? We are transitioning to a church that, the best way I can explain it, is unplugged. Congregants gather regardless of air conditioning (Ohio Summer heat isn’t exactly kind). While understanding her role in God’s grand story, the church has a local focus with a simple and straight-forward mentality. It’s a simple church. I recently sat in joyful tears among the small congregation in the old sanctuary with 80 degree temperatures for nearly 2.5 hours. And the product that this consumeristic millennial was being sold for those two and a half hours was nothing more and nothing less than, yep, Jesus of Nazareth.
- What do you think the purpose of the Sunday morning Church gathering is?
- In your opinion, what are Churches doing right and/or wrong?
- Is it geared toward believers, non-believers, or both?
- When is it okay to leave your church family?
- Should people stay at one church for a long time or move on?
Featured Image Credit: Matt Hoffman Instagram