In a day when the skepticism about the church is at an all time high by a society that grows increasingly more secular each year, it’s important that the church take this skepticism seriously and acknowledge her own failures as at least one legitimate source of this generations cynicism.
“Collegians and millennials are abandoning organized religion at a dizzying pace. Nearly four in ten (39%) young adults (ages 18-29) claim no religious identity. Six in ten say they stopped believing in the teachings of their childhood religion, according to a 2016 study by the Public Religion Research Institute.” 1
“In response, many churches have sought to lure millennials back by focusing on style points: cooler bands, hipper worship, edgier programming, impressive technology. Yet while these aren’t inherently bad ideas and might, in some cases, be effective, they are not the key to drawing millennials back to God in a lasting and meaningful way. Young people don’t simply want a better show. And trying to be cool might be making things worse.”2
So instead of trying to be more cool perhaps the answer is being more True - meaning more true to the teaching of Jesus … back to Jesus’ basic teaching about how the secular unbelieving world will know that our faith is real.
In John 13, right before his betrayal and death, Jesus paused in the upper room to wash the feet of his disciples with his own hands, and then later that evening he gave them a New Commandment which he described this way:
“34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 3
Essentially Jesus pointed to his followers loving each other as He had loved the church as the example that would convince the watching and unbelieving world that their faith was in something powerful and real.
And, of course, the example of love that Jesus gave was that of being a servant … loving the enemies … loving the neighbor … loving the dispossessed …. loving the outcast … loving those who lived on the margins of society and those looked down upon by the self-righteous as “people too tainted by sin.”
For NorthCross to a be a church that has impact on the community of Lake Norman in a way that is redemptive we must be a church where All People Are Loved - regardless. As Jesus taught in the parable of the Good Samaritan, everyone is our neighbor and thus we have a responsibility to care for the well being and good of all people. It doesn’t matter how well produced our worship is or how fun our community or engaging our children’s ministry; if we don’t love each other and love the community around us well, it will only breed more cynicism in a generation of people who are turning their back on the church in record numbers.
- Publishers Weekly, Will Millennials Return to Religion? February 2018
- The Chicago Tribune, Commentary: Want millennials back in the pews? Stop trying to make church 'cool.' May 2015
- ESV, Gospel of John 13:34-35