I recently made the decision to leave my church home. It was a decision I was wrestling with since about last October but I finally had enough. My church went through a lot of changes and if anyone knows me, like really knows me, they know I don't deal well with changes AT ALL. I react like an atypical teenager and it's something I've struggled with since my parents split eleven years ago.
I used to be super involved in church. Ever since I was 8 years old, I served on the altar in the Catholic church (one of very few females to do so at the time). I served under the direction of four different archbishops both here and in Miami. I eventually walked away from it all because I had a major disconnect. I still adore the Catholic mass and rituals but there was a huge split between the young people and the old ones. I was one of only a handful of people in their twenties in the church and I didn't get along with the others. It was a lonely experience and after all, isn't the purpose of going to church to fellowship with others? So I left. I stayed home from church for about two years after that before joining my most recent church.
It was a satellite campus, with the main campus in Cooper city Florida. I had never experienced anything like it and immediately joined the tech team because I wanted to be responsible for delivering that same experience to other people every Sunday.
1. There's only one right way to be a "Good Christian" - Don't question that
I recently got into a debate with another teacher online who was upset that one of her students told her he questions God. Bear in mind the teacher is the same age as me. This is one of the reasons people don't like the idea of church. Everything is structured in such a way that if you have any questions that challenges what anyone thinks or believes, then you're the problem. Everyone should be encouraged to question religion because quite frankly what we believe is so silly and far fetched you have to question it. In case you forgot, even Jesus questioned God before he was handed over to be crucified. There are so many things that don't make sense about Christianity yet we believe anyway. And it comes with a litany of rules that one must follow if they are to be "accepted". That's a lot for someone in the 21st century to get behind. We have questions and we know that most of the answers are BS. We know that if you want the truth, you more than likely will not find it in the church.
2. Churches are full of drama
There's always going to be someone or something you don't like. It shouldn't be that way but lately churches are full of so much drama. It's the reason I left my church. Between firings, hostile takeovers and too many egos running church like a business has terrible implications for the overall experience. Furthermore, over and over we’ve been told to “tithe” and give 10% of our incomes to the church but where does that money actually go? Why should thousands of our hard-earned dollars go towards a mortgage on a multi-million dollar building that isn’t being utilized to serve the community or to pay for another celebratory bouncy castle when that same cash-money could provide food, clean water and shelter for someone in need?Let's not be daft, church is a business. There are bills to pay to keep the building open and the priest or pastor should receive a salary for what they do (they have families to support as well). But when everyone has an opinion on how things should be done (without necessarily the experience or expertise), combined with empty promises, and extra marital affairs church is just not a safe place any more.
3. We're too busy/tired for church
We're supposed to "hustle" because let's face it, it's even harder to get established now. Businesses, brands, education, they all take hard work and dedication. And sometimes that means you're not available on a Sunday morning. So stop guilting us and making us feel like we have to choose and we're only "good" Christians if we go to church on a Sunday when worship can happen any time and anywhere.
4. Stop Talking About Us and Learn How to Accept Us
Despite the stereotypes about us, we are listening to phrases being spoken in our general direction. The church is supposed to be a place of healing and yet we don't feel like we can set foot inside without being ostracised for our sexual orientation and dress code. Until the church finds a way to be radically kinder and more compassionate than the world at large, the church is telling outsiders they’re better off on their own. And the truth is, many times they are. Here's a solution: Stop placing blame on individuals who struggle to get connected. For some people, especially those that are shy or struggle with anxiety, putting yourself out there even just once might be an overwhelming task. The church has to find ways to bridge that gap.
5. The Church is Failing to Adapt
The need for Black Millennials to see themselves goes beyond leaders humanizing themselves. Many of us are exiting our congregations because we don’t see ourselves in the biblical text or worship practices. Our sanctuaries are adorned with depictions of saints and a savior whose skin doesn’t look like our own. Here’s the bottom line church—you aren’t reaching millennials. Enough with the excuses and the blame. It's great that the church is trying to be more youth-oriented, but usually that entails kids and teenagers. The older adults already know where they belong, leaving millennials us young adults stuck in the middle with no nurturing.
Decide if millennials actually matter to you and let us know. In the mean time, we’ll be over here in our sweatpants listening to podcasts, serving the poor and agreeing with public opinion that perhaps church isn’t as important or worthwhile as our parents have lead us to believe.