About how they are leaving the church.
I’m on the high end of the Millennial generation, old enough to be able to look over the expanse of people younger than I, while still getting to be lumped in with all of them, statistically speaking. My specific age group was at the forefront of the exodus from the church. You could say we were the trailblazers.
If there’s one word that is applied to Millennials more often than any other, it has to be the ‘E’ word:
Entitled. Everyone says that Millennials are entitled. When it comes to figuring out why so many left the church, it’s easy for many of the old guard to say “It’s because they’re a bunch of entitled, self-important narcissists.”
And let me tell you something, Millennials.
You are entitled.
You are a very, very entitled generation.
Let me tell you what I mean, specifically as it relates to you leaving the church.
Millennials, you are entitled:
You are entitled to participate in churches that welcome questioners, doubters and sinners, but don’t immediately label you a questioner, doubter, or sinner.
You are entitled to churches where you don’t have to check your intelligence or emotions at the door to fit in.
You are entitled to a church where you don’t have to pretend everything is okay.
You are entitled to a church that will support you in whatever way it can when things are not okay.
You are entitled to a church where your creative talents are celebrated, not alienated.
You are entitled to a church where Jesus is the focus, not the pastor or worship leader.
You are entitled to a church where the pastor doesn’t make sweeping assumptions about how everyone must obviously think about social issues, politics or theology.
You are entitled to a church where spiritual formation is more than behavioral conformity.
You are entitled to a church that emphasizes grace, not law.
You are entitled to a church that humanizes and dignifies you as a child of God.
You are entitled to a church that does not play on your emotions or manipulate you with shame or fear.
You are entitled to a church where you can serve others as God has equipped you.
You are entitled to a church that doesn’t need to monopolize your time, talents or tithes.
You are entitled to a church that is not so noisy that God can’t be heard.
You are entitled to a church where people love each other, forgive each other and bear with each other.
You are entitled to a church where you’ll still be accepted when your too old to wear skinny jeans.
You are entitled to a church that listens if you ever bring a problem you have to the leadership’s attention.
And if you feel that you must, you are entitled to leave your church.
You are entitled to a church that lets you go graciously when you decide to leave the church, without calling you entitled or narcissistic.
I have more to say about the Millennial exodus, which I may share another time. But what I believe I see so much in the discussion is blame. Millennials are blamed for leaving because surely they were not justified in leaving, they did not have the right to leave, they were not entitled to leave. And until that is resolved, no discussion is going to be productive. You can’t blame the people who left and in the same breath, discuss how to lure them back.
Some of us have had life-giving experiences in church. Others have had life-stealing experiences. I’ve participated in church long enough to have plenty of both. I assure you, every person, from the Greatest generation to the Millennial generation has been entitled to leave their churches.
So what do you say? If you’ve ever left a church, why did you make that choice? Do you think the blame rests with the ones leaving, or the churches being left?