Our local dead tree newspaper had a story on storefront Churches today. The pastors seemed quite pleased to be doing something so edgy. “It helps us connect with people who are uncomfortable with traditional church experiences,” said Jeff Mikels, pastor of Lafayette Community Church. “Our space looks like a coffee shop and it’s right next to a fitness center.”
Trouble is, edgy is so passé now. Storefronts and praise bands are the new “traditional.”
Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates – edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.
But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.
In fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular.
Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions– Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. –precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.
What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.
There. She said it. I believe it. That settles it.
You can take that to the bank. Or she can take it to the bank.
Whatever. She probably doesn’t mean it anyway.
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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)