Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I can honestly say, I do not know.

I am a Millennial. There are no two ways about it. I was born in the late eighties. I grew up with home computers. There are many other things that point to my Millennial-hood, but those two things are enough to establish identity. But one thing I do not identify with as a Millennial is not going to church. I get asked often why people my age do not go to church and I am going to honestly answer for myself: I have no idea why Millennials do not go to church.

On an intellectual level, I can point to many reasons and problems why someone would not want to go to church at this age of life. Church is on a day off, church is confusing, church is hard and requires talking to new people. Religion can be oppressive and close minded and becomes an institution which does not allow new ideas or growth. Millennials are not in leadership positions, people do not offer activities and classes geared for the age group... the list goes on and on. However, on a gut level, I do not understand.

And I think that points to how I have experienced the Church in my life. I have been growing up being part of a church my entire life. I was baptized into the Episcopal church and I am now an ordained member of its leadership. Granted, my life transition from baptized baby to ordained leader was not the easiest or the most direct. I did once think about leaving the church. For anyone who knows my atheist brother, it would not come as a surprise that it was during a conversation with him that I thought about leaving the church. However, I realized during that conversation that while I wasn't always happy with the church governance or behavior, that there was no way for me to help change it if I left. That day I became an inside revolutionary. As all good revolutionaries are, I have to work from inside because otherwise I have no grounds for being trusted. Its a slow revolution, but its one that I believe very strongly in. I want to make the church more authentic, more open, better able to stand for love in this world. It comes from a vision of the kingdom of God where everything is accepted and loved for what God created us to be. It comes out of growing up in a community which cared about the world and all the people in it, is worried about the doubt and questions that plague us on our journeys, and looks forward to a time when peace and freedom rule. I may be an idealist, but I know none of this is easy. The church isn't perfect, institutional religion has lots of problems, but those are not the most important parts of the community of God. The most important parts are the relationships, between God and each of us, between each other, and the community with God. For any Millennial trying to find a place in the world wide web of moving people, the church offers a place to learn how to have healthy relationships. Sadly, not all churches embody or even care to embody healthy relationships, healthy relationships are a struggle. Yoda says, Do or do not, there is no try. I agree, as long as we are not afraid to fail. There is no way to learn from mistakes if we are afraid to make mistakes.

I am a Millenial. I go to church. Heck, I occasionally lead church services. I have no idea why people my age do not go to church and I do not think it is fair for me to comment on that. I have no experience of it. If you want to know, ask a Millennial that does not go to Church. And then bring it back to the leadership, just so we know.

Thank you!