An Open Letter To The Church From A Millennial

Church – Look this word up in any dictionary and the first definition provided will most likely be something similar to: a building where Christians gather to worship.

Wrong.

This is not the church.

The church is not a building.

The church is a people.

And I am going so far as to say that the church is not a body of believers who profess faith in Jesus Christ.

The demons believe in Jesus.

The church is the body of believers who are following Jesus Christ. And not just on Sunday.

Church isn’t something you go to, it’s something you are.

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. Proverbs 27:19

Please, please, please don’t misread what I am about to say. I was raised in the church. I have never not gone to church at any point in my life. I absolutely would not be who I am or where I am without growing up in the church, I believe that it is not up for scriptural debate whether or not we are told to be plugged in with a local church body, and in the overall sense, I love church. (Church meaning the gathering of God’s people for corporate worship and reading of the Word/sharing God’s message.) I have been a part of multiple churches (Not because I enjoy “church hopping”. It’s actually a rather miserable process.). I was raised Church of Christ, I attended a non-denominational community church with more or less apostolic roots, and then I ended up at a Baptist church. For a living, I meet with pastors and get to know them and the dynamics of their congregation and what they believe and where they stand theologically and how they lead their flock in living out the gospel of Jesus Christ (or not living it out). That way, we can determine the different ways they want to plug in with our ministry (a local Crisis Pregnancy Center) and our ministry can help serve/resource them. I love my job. But at the same time, I also see a side of churches that the people who show up on Sunday, warm the pew, and leave don’t get to see. And what I’ve found, even and especially in my personal life, is that life is much easier that way. Warming the pew. Not getting involved. Not because it’s less work, but because you don’t get so easily exposed to the ugly parts of people that no one wants to see.

But that’s not even where I’m going with this, because we all have ugly sides. Even those of us who are constantly being emptied of ourselves so that we can be filled up with Jesus. Temptation is real and powerful and the flesh is faint and weak. Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more. (Romans 5:20) I don’t expect perfection out of anyone, even leaders within church. I do believe they are called to a higher standard, but that’s a different topic…

Where I am going with this is what I feel as a millennial who was raised in the church, but now wants a break from the church.

I know. *gasp*

The girl who works for a ministry and leads a Bible study for teenage girls and talks about Jesus all the time wants a break from church. Not rejecting it all together, because like I said, I love the church. I believe in the importance and power and necessity of the church on a regular basis in ones life.

I’m not tempted to take a break from church because I’m not desiring worship or the Lord or spiritual growth. In fact, the opposite is true. I’m craving it. I’m tired of the church because we have become so entirely complacent and afraid to offend anyone except for God. I’m exhausted. I am SO weary of pastors and ministry leaders who do not stand firm on the word of God.

Most people think (and boldly walk around preaching) that millennials are leaving the church because they feel ostracized and rejected.

No.

I would dare to challenge you by saying that millennials who are truly hungry for Jesus are frustrated with the church because they are fed up with not getting fed.

Millennials are leaving the church because it’s not any different than a social club.
Those who aren’t hungry for Jesus just yet, they see no point in actually bothering to attend church because there is no value if it is no different than gathering with people you enjoy being around in any given setting. And that is a 100% valid point.

We have these churches that are a mile wide and an inch deep, advertising Christianity like it’s a walk in the park. People who are all about Jesus until things get a little shaky or they feel like they have to give something up in order to carry their cross. Yet, that’s the entire point of Christianity. That is Christianity. Laying everything down so your hands are free to pick up and carry your cross. Your hands can’t be free to carry your cross and hold on to the world, friends. It’s one or the other.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Keep your lights and smoke and worship show. Keep your casual dress and alternate morning/evening services. Keep your coffee bars and social media appeal. Keep your goal to get thousands of members by a certain date. Keep your free t-shirt.

Give me Jesus.

I’m not saying all of those things are particularly bad in and of themselves, but when we use them to draw people in and coax them into Christianity by giving it a “cool, hip, comfortable, feel good” vibe, we’re selling them a cheap version of the gospel that is in fact not the gospel. The gospel is anything but cool, hip, and comfortable. That’s why people find it offensive. It goes against every grain of culture.

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. John 3:20

Tell me why living with someone before marriage is wrong. Not just that it is, but why.
Tell me why we need to love homosexuals because homosexuality is a sin that is just as much of a reality to struggle with as any other sin, but we must hate the sin. Explain the desperate need for the balance of truth and grace in these kinds of situations we’re up against.
Tell me why drinking alcohol can be a dangerous, slippery slope and don’t just flippantly and casually state that a beer every now and then is okay.
Tell me that I can be a stumbling block for someone else, that even if I don’t struggle with certain things, they might. And tell me that I will be held accountable for that.
Tell me boldly that life begins at conception, even from a scientific standpoint as all the DNA is encrypted in that moment, and there is a plan and meaning and purpose for that little person regardless of the circumstances in which he or she was conceived, because all life is ordained by God and God doesn’t make mistakes.
Tell me that even though I am radically loved on a level beyond anything I will ever be able to comprehend, that even though there is grace to cover every shortcoming I have, that even though I am forgiven and set free; I wasn’t set free to do what I want or to live as close to the line as I can get to it without actually crossing it.
I was set free for so much more.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13

Challenge me. Call me out. Offend me.
It’s your job, and you will make me better for it.

 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:11-16

Better is open rebuke than hidden love.Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:5-6

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve… 1 Peter 5:2

I’m tired and exhausted and weary not because your chasing me off with your “offensive beliefs”, but because it’s practically like you have no beliefs. And if you do, no one knows about them because you’re afraid they may be offended. So what is the point?

What good is the gospel in your life if you’re the only one who is affected by it?
Gospel, meaning living out the Word of God because it has completely changed you, not praying a get-out-of-hell-for-free prayer.

The church looks just like the world. If I want a motivational speech or a pat on the back, I can go elsewhere.

We, the millennial generation, are at a critical point in history. Based on what I can see, the conversations that I have, the leaders that are guiding us to be leaders ourselves in this movement to passionately pursue Jesus and forsake everything else; I believe we are a chosen generation. I see boldness, I see servant-leadership, I see authenticity, I see passion for Father God deep, deep, deep down to the marrow of our bones that will not allow us to remain silent regarding the truth of God and the controversial issues that shake us to our core.

But if I’m being honest, in the most delicate and tender way that I know how to express what is also stirring in my heart, there is a huge portion of the modern-day church that is not helping us in our cause. Perhaps, I believe, they are actually damaging it.

The boys are being separated from the men, the hot from the lukewarm, the genuinely authentic from the white-washed tombs.

I’m not giving up on church. That was never an option, and it never will be. But these are challenging times where we as a church need more than ever to be challenged by each other so we are equipped to face the challenges of the world.

We can’t be challenged by each other if we’re not being real with one another, and by being real I mean speaking truth boldly and passionately, even if people get their toes stepped on. Better to have stepped on toes than an eternity in hell.
That’s how we grow, that’s how we change. We hold each other accountable, always striving to look like Jesus and not the world that spits in His face and so easily ensnares us to do the same without even realizing it; maybe not by acting upon something that is bad, but by not taking a stand for what is good.

You will know these people because of what they do. Good things don’t come from people who are bad, just as grapes don’t come from thorn bushes, and figs don’t come from thorny weeds. In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, and bad trees produce bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. Every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 You will know these false people by what they do. Matthew 7:16-20

And so I ask you, as the church, where do you stand? Better yet, do you? We all need each other. That’s the purpose of the church; working in unity together to push each other closer to Jesus and advance His kingdom. To navigate this life together, support one another, edify each other, help each other grow into the person God is calling us to be.

There is a generation of mighty warriors rising up. We need you, and I can’t help but wonder where you’re at…

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13 thoughts on “An Open Letter To The Church From A Millennial

  1. I hear you and think the same thing as I care for the elderly and the dying. Horrified by the fact that the very spirit that ends the life of the unborn is walking the halls ready to prematurely snuff the life out of those nearing the end of life. I grew up in a social club church; when I became a believer, I moved on. The same church’s that were instrumental in my spiritual development and on fire to lay their life down for the Gospel now look hauntingly like the church of my youth. I have a feeling that there is a core group of us working tirelessly out of site and we may not know about one another. Do not lose hope, we are here, but come Sunday morning sometimes we are too tired to engage our younger more energetic brothers and sisters.

  2. Thankyou for this. You have perfectly articulated everything that my husband and I have been feeling the past couple of years. We love the church and we love Gods people but we are so tired of the “social club” that the church has become and all of the lights and showiness of worship. We haven’t left our church bc we have grown up there and love some of the families there, but we aren’t challenged in our spiritual walks and often feel like every Sunday is just a feel good motivational speech. We try to take responsibility for our growth on our own during the week, but we sure do long for strong leadership and a body of believers that stand apart from the world. Thank you for being a voice for our generation. We long for Jesus and the gospel, and don’t need anything added to or taken away from it. Just Jesus.

  3. Reblogged this on stillmomentsofgrace and commented:
    Yes, yes! This is a must read. I have to thank Alexis Judy​ for verbalizing what I have been thinking in such a bold way!

    “…We’re [The Church is] selling them a cheap version of the gospel that is in fact not the gospel. The gospel is anything but cool, hip, and comfortable. That’s why people find it offensive. It goes against every grain of culture.”

    “Better to have stepped on toes than an eternity in hell.”

  4. I see someone has been reading her Bible! And not just to fulfill some religious obligation, but to see what God really says in it. That can be a dangerous thing to do. God really speaks through his word to those who honestly seek Him. As for the Church, you are right about what it should be (and actually is), but end up with the question of where it can be found. It can be found where a few brothers and sisters dare to begin to meet around the Lord Jesus rather than around some doctrine or system of worship. I didn’t go through your struggle because my mom and dad, from my youth, worshipped and served the Lord in such a place, and I have been able to find and join them in the places where I’ve lived. There are many, many such gatherings of real people (but our enemy also has a lot of counterfeits as well).

  5. The Catholic Church does not change their beliefs for 2,000 years. It is not necessarily popular or hip or cool, but it’s rooted in the original early Christian church.

    1. This is exactly what I was thinking. The Catholic Church teaches all the hard truths of the faith and gives us the spiritual nourishment through the sacraments to live them out. There is no more reviled and hated Christian faith than the Catholic Church. I encourage all who are tired of divisions and lukewarm teaching to explore the beauty, truth, and goodness of the Catholic faith. Want to live an authentic faith that you will be mocked and rebuked for by myriads of Christians as well as nonbelievers? Try the fullness of the gospel found in the Catholic faith.

  6. I would say look back! We need preachers now like Charles Spurgeon. George Whitefield! L. R. Shelton Sr. Preach Christ and let the chips fall where they may! J.C. Ryle, DL Moody, Vance Havner. Not the soft soap scriptureless preaching we have now! I listen the Shelton’s preaching on sermon audio and read a lot of the other preaching over the internet. We don’t need a revival, we need and awakening!

  7. This is not a preaching issue it’s a leadership issue. It’s an equipping the saints to do the ministry issue, it’s a 2 Timothy 2.2 failure to teach the people to pass his teachings on. I did not say a failure to pass the gospel message on, it’s a failure to equip people to teach others issue about all He taught.

    We equip pastors to teach others, we equip teachers to teach, we equip small group leaders to teach, but we do not challenge everyone to become equipped so they can pass on his teachings.

    How many parents can teach their kids how to study the Bible? To talk with God through out the day, not just before bed or a meal? How many can teach their child how to hear God’s voice so they can follow the one true God for themselves? We spend very little time equipping to pass it on.

    The break, the missing link, the problem needing attention is, “the passing it on part”! Fix this and it will begin to change.

    Don’t miss understand…. I did not say go work harder on a sermon, I said, go help someone learn to teach others about His word.

  8. Thank you!! God bless you for the boldness and honesty. Bless you for making things clearer for older Christians re: present day youth. Thank you for making us uncomfortable. May it prompt us to DO and to change for HIM. May HE continue to fill you & give you wisdom. For HIS glory!! In JESUS’ name.

  9. Alexis, I acknowledge the yearning in your heart and thank you for your deeply personal cry for an authentic Church, one that yields martyrs and saints. You might take this break from church to explore the Catholic faith which teaches all the hard truths of Jesus and gives us the spiritual nourishment through the sacraments to live them out. There is no more reviled and hated Christian faith on earth than Catholicism. I encourage you and all who are tired of divisions and lukewarm teaching to explore the beauty, truth, and goodness of the Catholic faith. Want to live an authentic faith that you will be mocked and rebuked for by myriads of Christians as well as nonbelievers? Try the fullness of the gospel found in the Catholic faith. Yes, there are weeds among the wheat in the Catholic Church, but Christ foretold that as well. Do not be afraid!

  10. Excellent post! In working with college students as a campus minister, I am finding out that they are hungry to know what the Biblical text says, even the difficult parts.

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