Thursday, June 19, 2003

More on Millenial Evangelicals

This was originally going to be in the comments section of this post, but they ran over the limit. This seems to be an important discussion, and I'd like to continue it.

Actually, the reason TS O'Rama says is noticeably absent is one of the strongest reasons why young Christians become Evangelicals, but I'm so used to it that I didn't even think of including it. Obviously, both I and other young Evangelicals (and elderly Orthodox, middle-aged Catholics, Gen-X Protestants, etc.) have our faults in terms of tolerance and patience. The problem is that while we would like to give the gift of obedience to God, we don't understand why the style with which Boomers are comfortable is more right than the one with which we are. Again, we are told to come as we are. Just as I presume a Roman Catholic wouldn't object to Eastern Rite or Marion Rite Catholicism, I don't see why a hymns-and-suit congregation would object to a praise music-and-sneakers congregation. Personally, I feel uncomfortable in the former type of church, and I actually know why various things are done the way they are. It's boring, but it also seems fake. Just as the congregation saying "Thanks be to God" or "Alleluia, Christ is risen" in unison sounds forced, so do the services as a whole. More often than not, traditionalist congregations are also somewhat cliquish. Given the fact that Evangelicals tend to be literalist and very strict in terms of morality, it could hardly be said that they reject traditionalist services solely due to it not catching their fancy.

Perhaps more importantly, though, I have yet to meet a recent convert who decided after going to traditional services that Christianity was the right choice. All the ones I've met have been inspired by the way they saw the Christians in their life behaving, by spending time in Bible Studies and in Discipling, and by going to a church where they feel comfortable. Encouraging new Christians to go to a church where they don't understand the traditions, are bored, and feel unwanted isn't a very good idea. Meanwhile, young Evangelicals have a hard time re-energizing mainline churches, as they are stymied by the in-fighting of committees and disheartened by the apathy they see around them. It could of course be questioned whether or not these elements are actually present, but they appear to be so to the young Evangelical.

It may also be a simple reaction against Boomer culture. To a large extent, Millenials believe that Boomers and Gen-Xers dropped the ball in terms of responsibility. We look at what we know, and massive church scandals and hypocrisy seem to be a new thing, even though they're not really. Quite simply, we don't trust churches run by people of our parents' generation, since our parents' generation is, in our eyes, pretty messed up as it is. To some extent this is normal youthful rebellion, but it is also grounded in more objective views.

The average Millenial Evangelical wants to go on a mission for a year or two, marry in their mid-twenties, start a family, and Right the Wrongs of the world. To our eyes, older generations have a disturbing tendency to not get married, to get divorced if they do, to squirm at the idea of going to Africa to spread the Gospel, and to prefer a Lexus to Righteousness. This is stereotyping, but again, there is some basis in fact.

Simply put, we prefer being around others who believe as we do, though we like to think of ourselves as ready to face down unbelievers whenever called to do so. Judging by their lack of attendance at rallies and dismissal of CCM, mainliners don't seem interested in doing that. If that brand of Christianity allows them to commune with God, then more power to them, but we doubt it's the right way for us.

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