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Greg P

15 Reasons Why I Left Church

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No worries, Christian, I didn't feel singled out, but I definitely appreciate the clarification. I think you're definitely right that a lot of people do shirk off their stewardship to interact with church leadership regarding conflict. I definitely don't want to come off as angry with the church; I feel like that ship has sailed in my life already. I'm more in the sad and slightly disoriented phase, asking, "what next?"

And I still have some good touch points for my faith, not the least of which is my family, as well as some faithful friends who have walked through a lot of life with me. I've just finally reached my tipping point of tolerance for leadership and schism failures. I'm not sure where exactly that leaves me, or what it bears for my future; hence the exploratory venturing outside the lines of Protestantism.

Edited by Joel C

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[Authorities who decide to no longer recognize central authority end up becoming rulers onto themselves. I'm not saying there aren't legitimate reasons people want to leave their denominations. But such reasons don't legitimate church/denomination splits as a healthy practice. It's one of the fundamental problems of Protestantism to me, that authority structures never last, and by consequence trustworthiness is eroded little by little.

Authority always has within it the potential for abuse. And that can happen and has happened in small, non-denominational churches and huge, international, historically rooted churches such as the Catholic Church. The danger in a small church is that there is no external governing organization that can be appealed to in mitigating issues that require cooler, more objective heads. The danger in a large church is that the abuse can be ignored, swept under the rug, dismissed as an anomaly, bypassed for purely bureaucratic reasons, or any of a hundred other factors that allow evil to go unchecked.

There is no panacea, Joel. I'm sorry for what you and your family had to endure. Truly. And given those circumstances, I can understand why, if you bother to stay in the Church at all, you would look for something that looks very different from what you've experienced in the past. But I would also encourage you not to romanticize the appeal of a strong central authority. That has its own set of problematic issues, and wherever you go you will encounter fallen, broken human beings who, at their best, will kinda, sorta approximate what it looks like to follow Christ.

In any case, I wish you healing on the journey.

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There is no panacea, Joel. I'm sorry for what you and your family had to endure. Truly. And given those circumstances, I can understand why, if you bother to stay in the Church at all, you would look for something that looks very different from what you've experienced in the past. But I would also encourage you not to romanticize the appeal of a strong central authority. That has its own set of problematic issues, and wherever you go you will encounter fallen, broken human beings who, at their best, will kinda, sorta approximate what it looks like to follow Christ.

I appreciate your thoughts, Andy. And I agree with you about the way in which all different kinds of authority are problematic. As I said in my first post, I don't have to look far to see abuse, conflict, and wide difference of opinion in the authority members of the Catholic church (see the current very public row between American nuns and the Holy see). This is not a shining moment in history for Catholicism by any means. But like I also said, when such problems arise, it seems to me that Catholics have a very different way of dealing with them than Protestants. This may sound self-centered, and I don't mean it that way, but there are less possibilities for the kind of authoritative abuse I've experienced, because Parishes aren't autocratic kingdoms.

I'm really not interested in romanticizing anything. I don't think I'll somehow be fulfilled in all much churchly wishes if I convert to Catholicism. But I do see a systemic problem in the way Protestants think about authority, and I don't have to romanticize anything to point that out. My last two posts are really more about my realizations of, and disappointments in, some fundamentals of Protestantism, than about anything else.

Edited by Joel C

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Our resident restless, evangelical, Rachel Held Evans, is at it again maintaining that Millennials are looking for a change in substance, not style in their church meetings. She says more and more young evangelicals want a greater sense of history and tradition, openness to people of different sexual orientations, higher level of authenticity, less consumerism, a de-emphasis on "performances" and so on.

 

You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.  

 

 

I think this is a valid complaint and as usual I find myself saying amen to most of what she writes. I guess the problem is, what does one do if they don't  ever "find Jesus" in weekly Church meetings, no matter how many substantive changes occur? I see Rachel as justifiably bemoaning the failures of Evangelicalism, yet believing that if some key changes occurred everything would be radically different. Somehow.

 

I'm not really convinced this is true. 

 

After over two decades in Evangelicalism and heavy involvement in weekly, practical service (i.e. teaching, music ministry, evangelistic outreach , youth group, etc) I reached the point where I had to admit to myself that even under the best conditions Sunday morning was a time of boredom and emptiness for me and that all of my most profound and empowering spiritual moments in life occurred outside of formal church meetings-- among interactions with family, friends, neighbors, out in nature, traveling and in creating and viewing art. This doesn't mean church attendance had no value for me-- just a somewhat limited one.

 

I also had to reach a point where I acknowledged that many, if not most, Christians simply didn't see Sunday morning the same way as me and that my hope and expectation for a sea change in evangelicalism was a bit unrealistic and unfair. Millions of people experience great joy and peace during Sunday morning services. If I'm honest, I'd have to say that even if the music was awesome, the theology embracing and inclusive, the teaching rich with academic and historical insights, I'd probably still not find true fulfillment in modern church services.  I'm an odd bird. I find worship and spirituality to be deeply private disciplines and that the public, long-form versions do not impact me at all, no matter how authentic. I love fellowship and engaging dialogue with other Christians. I just don't find that sitting next to them silently in a pew, enriches my life or theirs in any substantive way.    

 

I still attend from time to time-- in fact I will be attending Mass this Saturday with friends-- and I'm pretty sure I'll have a decent time. But, I'm going so that I can hang out with  people I love, not necessarily to have a spiritual experience. I most look forward to dinner afterwards so we can talk. And for them Mass is foreplay for later conversation, so I'm indulging them. Some may see this as a rather jaded and burned-out perspective, but it's a willing and deliberate surrender for me. I don't look for sermons, choruses, or a liturgy or order of service to show me the Spirit of Christ. I mostly find that elsewhere. Such a surrender liberates me from the frustration of always trying to wring something from a cloth that has no water.    

Edited by Greg P

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Rachel Held Evans wrote:

: Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I’m often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.

Um, if you're only 32 (i.e. born in the 1980s, and still definitely in elementary school when Nirvana and Douglas Coupland hit the big time in the early 1990s, etc.), I'm not sure you count as Generation X.

But Evans does inadvertently reveal here that there's nothing new in all the "millennial" talk we hear these days. Many, if not all, of the issues raised by the "millennials" were being raised by "Generation X" back in the day.

And by the way, is it really fair to talk about "the evangelical obsession with sex" without talking about the millennial obsession with same?

(I do get a kick out of Evans' use of the semi-redundant phrase "forty-somethings and grandmothers, Generation Xers and retirees". Yes, Generation Xers are now forty-somethings, just as many grandmothers are retirees. And so it goes...)

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To paraphrase something I just wrote on Facebook, the way Rachel Held Evans and other millennials say they disagree with consumerism and they want authenticity and they want churches to sit down and talk with them more, it kind of reminds me of that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy tells his dad they never talked when he was younger, and his dad says okay what do you want to talk about, and Indy... has no idea. And then it reminds me of this other scene in Raising Arizona:

H.I.: No, sir. That's one bonehead name, but that ain't me any more.

Parole Board chairman: You're not just telling us what we want to hear?

H.I.: No, sir, no way.

Parole Board member: 'Cause we just want to hear the truth.

H.I.: Well, then I guess I am telling you what you want to hear.

Parole Board chairman: Boy, didn't we just tell you not to do that?

H.I.: Yes, sir.

Parole Board chairman: Okay, then.

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And by the way, is it really fair to talk about "the evangelical obsession with sex" without talking about the millennial obsession with same?

Well, no, of course not. One could say, "Evangelicals refuse to go along with the dominant culture's ideas about sex, and as a millennial that really pisses me off," but it's much easier to say evangelicals are obsessed with sex. It's all hip to be counterculture and everything, except when your idea of what is countercultural differs from mine. 

Edited by mrmando

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And by the way, is it really fair to talk about "the evangelical obsession with sex" without talking about the millennial obsession with same?

Well, no, of course not. One could say, "Evangelicals refuse to go along with the dominant culture's ideas about sex, and as a millennial that really pisses me off," but it's much easier to say evangelicals are obsessed with sex. It's all hip to be counterculture and everything, except when your idea of what is countercultural differs from mine. 

 

Evangelicals go far, far beyond simply "refusing to go along with the dominant culture's ideas about sex". 

 

They refuse and reject any ideas about sexuality that deviate in any way, from strict celibacy before marriage. The rules also extend to self-pleasuring and a multitude of sexual expressions non-married hetero couples engage in, outside of intercourse. They also demote believers who disagree and designate offenders to a lower spiritual caste... or worse yet God's wrath/judgment. So yeah, both parties are obsessed with sex, but evangelical's obsession has ramifications that travel into eternity, for those who dare to disagree.  

 

What's humorous to me about my heavy-handed, sola scriptura Evangelical brethren, is that the New Testament never directly addresses "sex before marriage", masturbation, etc...

Edited by Greg P

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Greg P wrote:

: They refuse and reject any ideas about sexuality that deviate in any way, from strict celibacy before marriage.

Well, I can't say I have a problem with that, unless you're referring to the people who insist that even kissing before marriage is a sin, etc.

: The rules also extend to self-pleasuring . . .

Honestly, I never heard *anyone* speak against self-pleasuring until I was in college (in Bible school, to be specific). Until then, the only comment I had ever heard from any evangelical on the subject was in James Dobson's Preparing for Adolescence -- and *he* said he wasn't going to condemn it if the Bible didn't condemn it. (I don't think he exactly condoned it, either, but he basically wasn't going to make an issue of it. Um, so to speak.)

True story: I mentioned this bit from Dobson's book in an article I wrote for Books & Culture on the teensploitation films of the late '90s (Scream, American Pie, Cruel Intentions, etc.), and *someone* on the magazine's editorial team -- I know not who -- added a footnote saying that Dobson had revised his opinion in later editions of the book (which for all I knew could have been true, since the copy of the book that I had in my possession was something like 15 years old by that point). But then it turned out that the footnote was incorrect, so the footnote was deleted from the website version of the article and the magazine printed a correction in a subsequent issue that made it clear that this footnote had been an error on the magazine's part, not on mine.

So, okay, yeah, given that someone felt the need to make Dobson even stricter than he actually is, obviously *someone* in evangelical-land has problems with self-pleasuring. smile.png

(That being said, I will admit to being disappointed when I came across a sort of pre-marital-counselling book by Dobson called Love for a Lifetime around the turn of the millennium and saw that it contained the instruction "Seek to marry a virgin." I had long, long resigned myself to the statistical likelihood that anyone I might meet in my 20s or 30s would be more sexually experienced than I, and I really didn't understand why Dobson was encouraging people to adopt a non-forgiving attitude towards what other people might have done in the past. Or so it seemed to me, at any rate.)

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Greg P wrote:

: They refuse and reject any ideas about sexuality that deviate in any way, from strict celibacy before marriage.

Well, I can't say I have a problem with that, unless you're referring to the people who insist that even kissing before marriage is a sin, etc.

 

 

Well, we both know the groups that encourage couples to abstain from kissing until their wedding day, but they are clearly a minority. My experience is that most mainstream Evangelicals offer stern warnings against rounding all the other bases on the diamond as well.

 

I was always taught as a kid that the moment I had sex outside of marriage the world would change, heaven would darken, my mind would collapse under the tormenting weight of past conquests, i would walk away from God, open a door to Satan, that something so incredibly valuable would be pawned off, irretrievably broken and that I would be somehow polluting my future marriage. (in all fairness, I just stole that sentence in part from vintage Josh McDowell)

 

What a terrible trip to put on adults, never mind impressionable teens. Of course, none of that stuff is really true or based on any NT verses that I'm aware of, which is one of the reasons why the heavy emphasis in evangelicalism seems so absurd.

 

I'd like to add, as a totally unnecessary footnote, that I did follow McDowell's advice as a kid and remained a virgin until I got married, at 25. None of my close friends could make that same claim. Now almost 20 years later, I am the only one of our gang who's divorced and all my severely cellibacy-challenged associates are still quite happily married. Just sayin. 

Edited by Greg P

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What's humorous to me about my heavy-handed, sola scriptura Evangelical brethren, is that the New Testament never directly addresses "sex before marriage"

I guess that depends on what you mean by "sex" and what you mean by "marriage," but we probably hashed a lot of this out already in the sexuality thread. The idea that the various Greek terms in the NT can somehow be parsed so that none of them means "coitus between two unmarried individuals" strikes me as an entirely novel one that ignores nineteen centuries of unambiguous church teaching, but if you think all that teaching was consistently wrong and that only since the 1960s have theologians finally unearthed the correct meaning of those terms, you're welcome to hold that opinion.

I was always taught as a kid that the moment I had sex outside of marriage the world would change, heaven would darken, my mind would collapse under the tormenting weight of past conquests, i would walk away from God, open a door to Satan, that something so incredibly valuable would be pawned off, irretrievably broken and that I would be somehow polluting my future marriage.

Most of that sounds familiar in one way or another. Yes, I do remember believing that if I "did it," my life would be over in some mysterious sense, and I remember giving other people advice based on that idea (my complete lack of experience notwithstanding). But of course, life doesn't end at that moment. Life goes on, and if forgiveness and redemption mean anything, surely they encompass the idea that one can move on from one's past, even where sexuality is concerned.

 

The basic Christian idea about sex is that it's sacred. Certainly this idea has been followed to a number of questionable conclusions, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the idea itself.  

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What's humorous to me about my heavy-handed, sola scriptura Evangelical brethren, is that the New Testament never directly addresses "sex before marriage"

I guess that depends on what you mean by "sex" and what you mean by "marriage," but we probably hashed a lot of this out already in the sexuality thread. The idea that the various Greek terms in the NT can somehow be parsed so that none of them means "coitus between two unmarried individuals" strikes me as an entirely novel one that ignores nineteen centuries of unambiguous church teaching, but if you think all that teaching was consistently wrong and that only since the 1960s have theologians finally unearthed the correct meaning of those terms, you're welcome to hold that opinion.

 

Evangelicals do a lot of things that totally ignore 19 centuries of history and church teaching, which was the point of my original statement. Catholics can argue authoritatively from history and tradition, whereas sola scriptura Evangelicals are limited to the NT writings, which address prostitution and adultery, yet lack declarative statements on loving, consensual sexuality (in all forms) outside of marriage. 

 

Evangelicals are notorious for proudly challenging others to "show it to me in the Word", when faced with religious traditions that aren't necessarily found in the scripture. They are almost equally notorious for ultra-narrow views on sexuality before marriage, but I've never met an Evangelical who can show me exactly where in the NT such a thing is clearly prohibited.  

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Evangelicals are notorious for proudly challenging others to "show it to me in the Word", when faced with religious traditions that aren't necessarily found in the scripture. They are almost equally notorious for ultra-narrow views on sexuality before marriage, but I've never met an Evangelical who can show me exactly where in the NT such a thing is clearly prohibited.  

Even "sola scriptura" Protestants [a] have almost six hundred years' worth of teaching and commentary to draw upon;  can also draw upon earlier sources that seek to interpret canonical scriptures (yes, Protestants do read Aquinas and Augustine); and [c] don't seem to feel a particular need to limit themselves to the NT. I very much doubt there's any such thing as an Evangelical who thinks he or she ought to believe only things that can be established by single-verse NT prooftexting ... except perhaps in your imagination.

Catholics can argue authoritatively from history and tradition,

In what sense is it "authoritative" when you don't buy the Catholic argument any more than you buy the Evangelical argument?

Edited by mrmando

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Evangelicals are notorious for proudly challenging others to "show it to me in the Word", when faced with religious traditions that aren't necessarily found in the scripture. They are almost equally notorious for ultra-narrow views on sexuality before marriage, but I've never met an Evangelical who can show me exactly where in the NT such a thing is clearly prohibited.  

Even "sola scriptura" Protestants [a] have almost six hundred years' worth of teaching and commentary to draw upon;  can also draw upon earlier sources that seek to interpret canonical scriptures (yes, Protestants do read Aquinas and Augustine); and [c] don't seem to feel a particular need to limit themselves to the NT. I very much doubt there's any such thing as an Evangelical who thinks he or she ought to believe only things that can be established by single-verse NT prooftexting ... except perhaps in your imagination.

 

 

A) I've been careful to use the term Evangelical in these discussions as opposed to simply "Protestant", as mainstream Evangelicalism --while clearly a Protestant movement--represents a decidedly more narrow sub-stream among traditional Protestant groups, in my experience.

B  )  I suppose. I personally never heard that much.

C) I assure you they exist and are legion. I won't waste time debating this point. I spent a couple decades traveling and ministering in Evangelical circles (both Charismatic and non) and it was the rule not the exception. You're a blessed man to have never encountered this in your travels, sir.  

 

Quote

Catholics can argue authoritatively from history and tradition,

In what sense is it "authoritative" when you don't buy the Catholic argument any more than you buy the Evangelical argument?

 

I meant "authoritative" among adherents of Catholicism. Clearly not with me. When the Catholic Church argues against all forms of pre-marital sexuality, they have a greater arsenal in which to lower the boom among their constituents. 

Edited by Greg P

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Having read both of RHE's posts I think we would probably get on. She would love Greenbelt for example. But I also think she's wrong in her portrayal of millennials. If she was in England she would be best suited to the CofE, perhaps a fresh expression. And these are apparently growing. But I don't think where she is reflects on the majority of her age bracket. In my experience most millennials are either one the one hand leaving the church because they doubt Christianity is true (for want of a better word) - as evidenced by scandal after scandal, competing claims by other religions, aggressive forms of atheism and a sceptical media - or, on the other hand they are attracted by a cool worship band and good coffee. My personal opinion is that the "spiritual but not religious" thing is dying out. (incidentally my problem is that I'm not sure I'm either).

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 I very much doubt there's any such thing as an Evangelical who thinks he or she ought to believe only things that can be established by single-verse NT prooftexting ... except perhaps in your imagination.

 

 

 I assure you they exist and are legion. I won't waste time debating this point. I spent a couple decades traveling and ministering in Evangelical circles (both Charismatic and non) and it was the rule not the exception.

Well, I guess I needn't worry about whether I'm a "post-evangelical," then. By your definition I never was one to begin with.

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I will just stick this here, it's not necessarily anything new.

From my blog, And Now Deep Thoughts With Justin Hanvey
 

 
When I Left The Church, I Didn't Really Leave The Church
 

There's still buzz going around Rachel's piece, and in many of the discussions I find myself often thinking the same thing.

"Stop calling it leaving the church, this is untrue."

You see, many millenials when they say they have left the church, what they mean is they have left the religious institutional model of Sunday morning services at the local First Baptist down the street.

They haven't left the church though. If you love God, that is impossible. Because you yourself are the church.

So I see on both sides the people still into the institution thinking the millenials are meaning "leaving Christianity." or acting like it, and the millenials saying "leaving the church." when really they mean they left the damaging abusive models of church they grew up in, but not The Church itself.

I have a similar story.

In 2003, my father, a music minister at our church, took his own life and I was left with many questions without answers. It was at this time I found myself having an aversion to Sunday morning services cause the worship time made me remember Dad, and it was just too painful.

So I chose to stop going to church.

For a while I just hung out with some friends at college, and then I joined a student ministry on campus called Metro Student Ministry, and we were doing bible studies and worship services, and on campus missional work. We were an intentional community, but it wasn't a lot of work. We saw each other every day cause we went to the same school. They became my best friends, and my confidantes, they became my church.

I hadn't really left the church after all, I'd just been experiencing a different model of it.

And this is what I see many millenials who have left the institutional model of their parents doing, still living and being church in intentional communities, but in different ways.

We still study the bible together, we just do it in homes, instead of church buildings.

We still worship together, we just don't always do it with a guitar and praise songs, sometimes we do it by our acts of love to one another and to others in our community, bringing glory to Jesus, who said, paraphrased, "they will know you love me if you love one another."

We still do missions, but we don't always do it with preaching, or teaching, and we often do it by building friendships, and relationships, living out Christ to the one we're reaching out to, and answering their questions when asked.

We still seek out mentors, and people of older faith than us, but we choose them ourselves, and we make sure they aren't abusive, or preaching a false gospel from the one we believe in. We realize that leadership needs to be birthed out of mutual submission and trust, and we value leaders that value our input as well into their lives.

Can all this be done within the institutional model itself? Yes. In fact, after three years of not being in the institutional church I returned to it in 2006 when I started going to a church called The Journey in Jackson MS. "A church for those who hate church." it called itself, and it was very much so a place full of artists and misfits and people who believed differently than your run of the mill conservative type. But we loved being church, and we lived it out, not just behind the closed doors on Sunday, but in the community around us.

"Church is Biology Class," the pastor once said, "And life is Biology Lab. The real stuff happens outside those doors and should." We were encouraged to join small groups and live out intentional community in them.

It healed a lot in me, a lot that I didn't even know was there. Those three years outside the building walls had shown me just how much I'd been missing of real church, and I wouldn't have returned if not for The Journey.

But I still feel that hole now, now that I'm some 2000 miles or so away from The Journey, and going to a church that is a lot like what I left back in 2003.

If you want to know why I do that despite my thoughts you can read my blog "Why Church."

But as for this whole discussion, I wonder if Rachel could have saved herself some backlash by saying "millenials are leaving religious institutions." not "leaving the church."

And I wonder if those who still think there's hope to be found in the religious institutions can understand that Church can and should be lived outside the building walls.

Because, let's face it, if all church really was was 10 minutes of worship, 2 minutes of tithing, a short one hour sermon and a benediction, behind closed doors away from the world, then we all should have left church long ago.

 

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But as for this whole discussion, I wonder if Rachel could have saved herself some backlash by saying "millenials are leaving religious institutions." not "leaving the church."

And I wonder if those who still think there's hope to be found in the religious institutions can understand that Church can and should be lived outside the building walls.

Because, let's face it, if all church really was was 10 minutes of worship, 2 minutes of tithing, a short one hour sermon and a benediction, behind closed doors away from the world, then we all should have left church long ago.

Justin, I appreciate and can even identify with your point of view. But Held Evans did not say "religious institutions" instead of "church" because, as she has just recently repeated again, she rejects the "I'm spiritual but not religious" position.  That's the position that declares that Christ himself (or being "Gospel-centered" or "intentional" as my own church likes to put it) can be distinguished from religion.

 

Held Evans, and quite a large number of those of us who have begun to read and study church history because we were never taught it growing up, are finding that American evangelicalism is actually quite divorced from older and MORE traditional forms of Christian institutions.  There is nothing inherently wrong with an "institution."  To reduce the definition of "the church" to merely the mathematical sum total of those human beings who believe in Christianity is to reduce the richness and depth of the church.  The building of traditions and institutions is part of the nature of man.  Structure and order follows both reasoned thought and living in a community.

 

Christians cannot escape the fact that Christianity is a religion, as the word English word "religion" is used the English dictionary, as it is still used in common usage (despite "missional" or "intentional" subcultures) and as used through the literature of theological history.  To argue that the church is not an institution is to lose something - to lose our history, to lose the development of Christian doctrine over two thousand years, to lose the institution of the sacraments, to lose the idea of very specific God ordained institutions within the temporal sphere, etc.  Held Evans hints at this, even if she (like most of us) is not very educated in church history, when she says that some "millennials" are being drawn towards older mainline Protestant denominations or to the Catholic church.  There are older and more profoundly rich religious institutions within Christianity that American Evangelicalism has little to no notion of.

 

When the the rhetoric of American fundamentalism of the late-1800s/early-1900s began to drive away people like John Henry Newman, Thomas Merton and Reinhold Niebuhr, it lost some significant depth to its thinking.  When the National Association of Evangelicals began in 1942, they were arising out of fundamentalism, with many of the same hermeneutical practices and worldview assumptions.  The more evanglical theology that I read, the more I find that respectable thinkers like Carl F.H. Henry are the exception rather than the rule.

 

If the evangelical churches that "millennials" are leaving institutionalized anything, they arguably "institutionalized" a sort of separatist provincialism in time, separated from the older and more traditional institutions contained throughout the majority of church history.  To confuse the majority of modern American churches with traditional "religious institutions" would be ironic given how anti-institutional these churches really are in both their teaching and practice.  I currently attend a church that relentlessly calls itself "missional" and "intentional."  The pastor keeps insisting on how the gospel is separate from both "religion" and from "the world."  I'm finding this type of rhetoric increasingly aggravating, because of how much depth it completely ignores.

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But as for this whole discussion, I wonder if Rachel could have saved herself some backlash by saying "millenials are leaving religious institutions." not "leaving the church."

Well,

1. Word choice matters. Zinsser and Strunk & White have both taken it on the chin in these latter days of American English, but I think they were correct to point out that short Anglo-Saxon words have more punch than long Latin ones. One wants a phrase that will stick in readers' minds, even if it's slightly less accurate than a longer, flabbier phrase. 

 

2. Saving backlash isn't necessarily a good thing for a blogger. More controversy means more eyes on your piece, which translates into more book sales, etc.

 

3. RHE might have been trying to address the movement of millennials out of the Church entirely -- into atheism/agnosticism, etc. -- as well as from evangelicalism into other manifestations of the Church.

Edited by mrmando

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Artur Rosman, 'Confession: How I Lost My Faith After Reading Rachel Held Evans':

From what I gathered: Held Evans seems to be most worried about Evangelicals leaving the fold for the high traditions such as Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Episcopalianism, and Lutheranism. Why this should be a problem is beyond me.

But she doesn’t seem to notice the “high traditions” are also bleeding membership. You can check the statistics at your preferred statistics caterer. Former Catholics are now the second largest religious group in the United States, only behind practicing Catholics.

I’m convinced (and I’m not the only one) that Catholicism is blowing its Catholic Moment because it has idolized assimilating to America. This applies to the Republican-Catholic party at prayer as much as it does to the Brikenstock-wearing priest from the Newman Center who is always talking about the “spirit of…” and asked you whether you were Opus Dei.

These two groups are a few of the many signsposts in our strange land. They point to the futility involved in accommodating to the Americanisms of any epoch. By the time the identity politics of any given generation trickle down to the liturgy those identity politics are out of fashion and lead to even more people trickling down and out. This eternal return then leads to more fruitless discussions about why the young are leaving, more accommodations, and so on.

This is the reason why the main takeaway from the Rachel Held Evans piece, “But I would encourage church leaders eager to win millennials back to sit down and really talk with them about what they’re looking for and what they would like to contribute to a faith community,” is such a throwaway.

My generation (and the generation of students we teach in college classes) is totally clueless. If you ask us we will tell you that we are lost in the cosmos. We have failed at manufacturing our own meaning, because meaning cannot be manufactured like the consumer services and trends mentioned at the start of this (and the Held Evans) piece. . . .

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Artur Rosman, 'Confession: How I Lost My Faith After Reading Rachel Held Evans':

 

These two groups are a few of the many signsposts in our strange land. They point to the futility involved in accommodating to the Americanisms of any epoch. By the time the identity politics of any given generation trickle down to the liturgy those identity politics are out of fashion and lead to even more people trickling down and out. This eternal return then leads to more fruitless discussions about why the young are leaving, more accommodations, and so on.

This is the reason why the main takeaway from the Rachel Held Evans piece, “But I would encourage church leaders eager to win millennials back to sit down and really talk with them about what they’re looking for and what they would like to contribute to a faith community,” is such a throwaway.

.

 

  My issue with this response is that RHE never suggested some nit-picky ecclesiastical accommodations to Americanism. I think many of us feel the issues are more broad and substantive than Rosman intimates. 

 

But I'm in total agreement that Evans' closing suggestion of a Millennial/Church leader summit is so utterly bogus. Socially speaking, the momentum is in favor of the young progressives. An exodus of Millennials translates into smaller, older churches, diminished cultural cred and most importantly, loss of revenue. Nothing will make a small church, evangelical pastor rethink their positions faster than the prospect of having to take a part time job at Walgreens, to compensate for a downturn in tithing.  

 

Evans, perhaps a little fearful of being too "radical", carefully followed up her initial post with a "balanced" but much weaker "why milliennials need the church" . As  i read it, most of the reasons she gives in the follow-up can be found in spades outside the confines of Sunday morning services within the context of a community of close friends, family and community engagement.     

Edited by Greg P

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Oh dear, look who's weighing in:

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/08/08/the-new-religious-fundamentalists-millennial-christians/?wpsrc=AG0002957&clsrd

 

Jefferson Bethke? I guess 25 million YouTube hits are an acceptable substitute for the ability to frame a cogent argument. 

 

Although Mr. Bethke seems terribly confused, I can't find much fault in this paragraph: 

True freedom is being able to give up all your rights for another out of love—and that’s what the church is supposed to be. A peculiar people who serve one another, give up possessions for each other, who love each other, and who depend whole-heartedly on each other. And if we are honest, my generation is not just repelled to some of those concepts, but we are actually terrified.

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I don't know... about every fifteen years someone critiques their own generation as being the most selfish, greedy, whatever...and then the previous generations pile on to say "Yeah...here is your problem!"

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To paraphrase something I just wrote on Facebook, the way Rachel Held Evans and other millennials say they disagree with consumerism and they want authenticity and they want churches to sit down and talk with them more, it kind of reminds me of that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy tells his dad they never talked when he was younger, and his dad says okay what do you want to talk about, and Indy... has no idea.

 

This is what she wants to talk about:

 

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.

We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.

We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.

We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.

We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.

We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.

 

It sounds to me like there's enough there for a substantive conversation.

 

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