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Dear Millennials: Sorry We’re So Obsessed With You

Dear Millennials: Sorry We’re So Obsessed With You October 16, 2014

Dear Millennials,

I know it’s kind of creepy. We want to know where you live, and what classes you take in school (and how much you pay for it). We want to know where you drink coffee; who you date and for how long; what you read, where you spend your money, and what you GIVE your money to; what kind of relationship you have with your parents, how far you wander from home, and how often you go back there. We want to see the depths of your soul, and then we want to take you out for a local craft beer. (You like that, right??)

And for the love of all that is holy, we want to know why you left us?? Why did you leave the church? Why? Were we not sexy enough for you? Not smart enough? Too needy? Is it something we said? We can be better! Just give us another chance.

We know. We’re like the bad ex who just can’t quit you. We are the Facebook trolls who want to like everything you like and then tear you apart when we disagree with your politics or your spending habits.  We know it. We see it in ourselves. And we are sorry.

The thing is, we are scared. We are afraid, now that you’ve dumped us, that no one will ever love us again. The generations before you—X and Y—staged pretty massive exoduses (exodi?) on their own. But you…well, we’ve never seen the likes of your kind of leaving. It is epic. It is destructive. It is breaking our hearts.

The truth is, we know— deep down in our heart of institutional hearts– we know that if you don’t come back soon (and bring some of your parents and older siblings with you), we will not be around to have this conversation with your kids. So forgive is if we’ve been acting a little nutty about wanting to know what makes you tick.

Of course, it’s not just the Church that’s stalking you. It’s also the tech industry, and the financiers. It’s the institutions of higher learning, the healthcare people and the politicians. AND YOUR PARENTS, and the people who make music and write stories and still, for the love, try to sell you cable, even though who needs cable with hulu and Netflix and HBO on demand? Everybody wants you. All these collective entities have realized that there are about to be more of you than there are of anybody else. And thus, all these collective entities acknowledge that if you don’t keep them alive, their days are numbered.

In other words—it’s not you. It’s us.

You are witnessing the midlife crisis—philosophically speaking—of an age-old institution that is just coming around to acknowledging its own mortality. It is good and healthy for us to do so, believe it or not. You see us freaking out and melting down, but it is good for us to witness the ways our own body is breaking down. And to decide how we want to die.

We are now having to ask ourselves hard but life-giving questions. Like, do we want to die on life support, clinging to our doctrine, our buildings, and our moral authority? Or do we want to check ourselves into hospice, and decide how we’re going to die with dignity? How we’re going to let go of the things that are killing us, and embrace that which might bring resurrection?

At least, these are the questions we ought to be asking. Instead, we are asking you to give us the easy answer and fix us. We are asking you to tell us what conversation, what program, what theology-on-tap thing will just bring you back. We want to bring you back to what is, and what we’ve been doing, and we desperately hope that when you come back, and see how wonderful it could be, you will also bring your checkbooks and your someday children. You could save everything.

While that would be easiest, we realize we’ve been total creepers about the whole thing, and we really are sorry. We’ll try to quit sweating you. We’ll try to trust that you will find your own path to faith, and that you might be able to teach us something about new ways to encounter the sacred story—the one that we want so badly to keep alive.

Here’s what we do know about you—from all the surveys and market research studies and endless miles and miles of blog posts and hours of reading your novellas and following you on Instagram—what we know is that you, blessed mysterious generation, have a zero tolerance for B.S.  We dig that about you. And we hope that our being totally transparent about our fearful mortality will help you see that we’re not so bad, really. We just want to talk to you…

But, admittedly, we’ve been going about it all wrong. We’ve come on too strong and we’ve stalked your roommate. And maybe we went through your trash a few times. That was wrong, and we’re sorry.

We are ready to let you go and work on ourselves.

Maybe you’ll come back to us someday. If you don’t, we understand. But if you do, we will try to be a different kind of people; we will show you the wonderful, transformative things that we do with your money; we’ll be a place where you can ask hard questions, and sit next to people who don’t look just like you; a place that has let go of its moral posturing and embraced the gospel of loving our neighbors; we will be the builders of real community and connection; we will try to let go of all the things that are driving you away.

Not because you want us to; but because those are the same things that are killing us slowly. Well, a little more quickly now. And we’d like to be around to meet your children someday.

Peace, Love and Spotify,

Church, Church-y People, Christian Bloggers and Market Researchers Everywhere

 

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