We have been warned that a cultural shift would change the face of the church. That shift is not coming…it is here. Young America is rejecting the church as we know it. We (Christians) waste a lot of time looking for a cause instead of discussing a solution.
As a late Baby Boomer I believe that one of the reasons for the cultural shift is the legalism that plagues us. We teach salvation by grace but practice salvation by grace plus works.
After discussing this issue in a church group I received the following email (edited for space) from a “None” (the younger generation who claims “none” as a religion). Instead of blame let’s stop and listen. Healing begins by listening.
Why have the “None’s” divorced the church?
It’s because we are tired. We are tired of never measuring up and not being good ‘enough’. We cannot possibly attain to the standard you hold over us. So, we quit.
We have a need to be loved. To be known. To be accepted. To be cherished. We have a need to know the truth. To believe in something. Someone. We have a need for that truth to make a difference and to tell us who we are and why we are here. We have a need to be forgiven.
Sadly, Church, you are not meeting those needs. What we find frankly turns us off and turns us away. Instead of being loved, we are told to love God. But WHO is God? Instead of being known, we are told to know God’s Word. But again, WHO is God? Instead of being accepted, we are told to accept His will. But what does that mean?
Church, you are confusing us. You tell us Jesus came to heal the sick, but you tell us to stop being sick. You tell us, God came to save the lost but then tell us to get our acts together. We hear, “God loves you and has come to give you joy, to give you peace, to give you rest, to forgive you and give you life.” But that is not what we see modeled by you. Instead we are told to Do More and Try Harder. You ask us, What’s Wrong with You? And tell us that, We Should Know Better. Well, we really just don’t (and I’ll let you in on a little secret, neither do you, so stop acting it.)
This we find outside of your doors, believe it or not. You, Church, are supposed to be a safe place, a hospital I can come to, to bind up my wounds, but I do not find that kind of healing with you. My soul is screaming for relationship, for connection and community. For that safe place. The outside gives that to me. They don’t strap me with rules and regulations and judgment. No, it’s quite the opposite, really. I am free to be who I want to be. So this is where I turn. To the safety of my girl-friend or my boy-friend or same-sex relationship. To the protection of drugs and alcohol and self-mutilation, numbing my pain and emptiness. To my addictions and dysfunctions, because it works, at least for a while.
We don’t have time or patience for this “Carrot and Stick” kind of faith. Be good and you’ll get a carrot. Be bad and I’ll beat you with a stick. Because, didn’t you hear me when I said, my soul is screaming for relationship?
I don’t want to be rude, but Church, you need to hear this. You got distracted. You fell asleep at the wheel and now you’re paying for it. And now we’re paying for it. You majored on the minor and minored on the major. You were swallowed up in the trap of Look Good and Do Better. But I’m here to tell you, that that’s just not real life. This pain and hurt I feel, is real life. This pressure I feel, is real life.
If you would have explained to me, really explained, that He came to take all of my sticks and give me all His carrots regardless of my “sinful transgressions”. Well, maybe, just maybe I would have stuck around a little longer. But right now, I’m Just. Too Exhausted. So I quit.
That’s one reason at least, for my divorcing you, Church.
Upon receiving this email my heart began to ache…maybe it isn’t so much the younger generation that needs to repent but the older as well.