Friday, November 21, 2014

Millennials Turned Off By Trendy Churches

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Millennials (age 18-29) are saying they need a break from their fast paced, technological world, and they now prefer a more traditional--classic church building in which to worship.

They told a recent survey they "don't want something created artificially for them; they don't want a bait and switch" experience---they want something "deeper and more authentic."

The new study has caught the attention of those who design and build churches. It should also catch the attention of church leaders who want to reach this generation.

Ironically, the study seems to buck the trends of mega-churches and multi-purpose/gym/sanctuaries that have become common.

I believe there is something more and deeper than mere architecture reflected in this new study.

What are the young people saying?

Christian research firm Barna Group has found that 67% of 18-29 year old people surveyed chose the word "classic" to describe their ideal church.

Only 33% prefer a "trendy" type church.

This group  is looking for something "authentic," not trendy, and that search for authenticity translates even to the look and sound of their ideal church.

When asked to choose whether they preferred a church sanctuary or auditorium, 77% chose a sanctuary.

When shown 4 kinds of windows, more than one-third chose the most ornate stain glass windows.

When shown 4 styles of church altars, a majority chose altars that "are unambiguously Christian and more traditional."

This age group has been raised in a political correct, "gray" culture, absent of absolutes, distinctives-- a culture where people are hesitant to reveal convictions about religion or morality. It has also become a culture where the church has attempted to "relate" more than "redeem" the culture.

The message and environment of too many churches has become one that is virtually indistinguishable from the relativistic culture of the world they claim to want to reach.

This group is now asking for authenticity---not a pretense of one thing while trying to be something else.

The far left progressives have given this age group a well defined example of what that looks like and they don't want to see that reflected in the church.

Frankly, they want the church to stand for something. They are rejecting ambiguity.

Roxanne Stone, with the Barna Group, says, "If they go into your church and they don't know where to go or it's ambiguous or they don't understand what something is for, they will move on."

Within this age group 78% are also saying they want a more quiet church over a loud church.

This bucks the typical trends of the biggest churches in the nation, where worship services are more concert like and less participatory.

Stone says they took a group of Millennials on a field trip to visit a downtown cathedral. a suburban mega-church, a city park and a coffee shop and asked them to react to the space.

The group was then asked point blank where they would prefer to go to church. They said probably to the mega-church, likely for convenience, but they don't have the same appreciation for the mega-churches as they do for the cathedral.

There is no "sense of awe" in the mega-church experience, they say.

The Millennials, who have had no religious background, say when they attend a mega-church multi-purpose building, they don't have a sense of where they are. Instead of feeling what they are coming for they say they "are asking what to do in this space."

An overwhelming majority say they either do or would go to church to connect with God. They are looking for a unique experience when they go to church.

I think most of my readers believe that God does not dwell in a building. Wherever people of biblical faith are gathered, God is present in their midst.

And there is no question there have been times in history when a greater emphasis was put on the building than on God for whom the building was supposedly erected.

However, I believe there is a clear message in this survey that transcends architecture.

A generation that has been raised and educated in a culture dominated by relativism, this generation craves the absolute.

They are asking is there anything that is real and will stand the test of time. Is there anything distinctive about Christianity.

Their responses tell me they want authentic, biblical Christianity---a message that is definitive, with absolutes. A message that defines right and wrong, and a message of redemption and restoration.

Having been raised in a culture where everyone is a god in their own mind, deciding what is right and what is wrong, the Millennial is looking for something and someone bigger than themselves.

While we don't want to read too much into this study and survey on church buildings, one thing is very clear.

In the heart of every human being is a need for God. While they respond differently and choose different paths for their lives, it is clear that they want and need something or someone bigger then themselves.

And even more clear, I believe, is that if the church of Jesus Christ will stand tall and present the gospel, defining sin and celebrating the remedy in whatever kind of building or park or coffee shop, there is an honest desire to hear the miraculous, transforming, wonder working gospel of Jesus Christ.

I believe this generation is turning toward a more authentic presentation of the gospel.

This always precedes cultural and personal restoration.

The question may be, are we able---or willing, to deliver a message that differentiates us from just another religious gathering, with suggestions as to how to cope with life and an emphasis on how to relate to the culture?

Be Vigilant. Be Courageous. Be Discerning. Be Blessed.