In response to all of the press devoted to the Flight of the Millenials, someone asked,
“ Why doesn’t someone write about the rest of us?”
I thought it was a great idea, because one of the things I discovered in writing my book was there are very few differences between them and us when it comes to shaking up our faith. In fact there is no “us” and “ them.” We start out in different places but end up in the same place, with one key difference, and that makes me sad.
Unlike the Millenials, my generation is used to and for the most part wants to be part of a physical church- It just doesn’t seem that the Church wants us very much. All of the examples below are simply different heads of the same beast. What follows are a few suggestions very lovingly and humbly submitted by one who was formerly a member of this Lost Tribe, in case anyone is interesting in getting us back
1) WE ALREADY BELIEVE. Please stop trying to convert us.
Just as we are overjoyed when a loved one quits smoking, we are overjoyed when a new believer is born- but that isn’t necessarily an invitation to tell us how to live. Maybe it is, but please wait for the invitation.
2) WE ARE FED UP WITH McCHURCH. Hey, it has taken us a lifetime to discover and love who we are as unique creations of a Creator who loves us, not despite those unique qualities, but because of them. We are not going to be put back in the pre- fab box. The non- denominational church movement occurred in our generation because people got fed up with church rules that had nothing to do with spiritual concerns. People who challenged Biblical interpretations previously carved in stone sparked the emergent church phenomenon in our generation. This is who we are. We don’t want our church to look or act like IBM or McDonalds. We want it to be sacred and special.
3) WE ARE MORE THAN MOTHERS AND WIVES, if you will only let us be.
Women seem to have a fundamentally different experience of religion than men and, in a disproportionate number of instances, it is less than pleasant. There is a cultural overlay of discrimination that is often confused with or even intertwined with religion resulting in women experiencing different things. I have literally lost count of the number of women I have talked to while writing or as a result of writing the book, who have overcome sexual bias to arrive at the top of their fields and become leaders in their community only to be invisible in their churches. They are encouraged to serve while their male counterparts are encouraged to lead. The Bible may call to serve, but each according to his gifts. We have the gifts of prophesy, healing, teaching, discipleship and yes, ministry- not just the ability to nurture. Please see us.
4) WE HAVE GIVEN/ VOLUNTEERED TIL IT NOT ONLY HURTS, BUT HAS EITHER BECOME A CODEPENDENT COMPULSION OR A SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL EXHAUSTION. Please do not make us feel like we are not enough for having human limitations that we have learned to respect. We have had to teach ourselves that we are valuable for our compassion, wisdom and experience in and of themselves. We wish you felt the same way.
5) WE KNOW WHO WE ARE. This may seem trite, but it is anything but trivial for so many of us who grew up with the God of the Smite Button and have had to battle with ourselves and our religion to finally be who we really are. We have walked that long, dark night of the soul, when only God answers, and have found that He is enough for us and we are enough for Him. If it’s a choice between Him and you, you know whom we are going to choose.
5(a) PLEASE DON’T TELL US WE ARE BAD CHRISTIANS IF WE ATTEND A CHURCH OTHER THAN YOURS. It abrogates our free will and implies a reciprocal loyalty that is not there. Religious consumerism was born in our generation: it’s a little late to put that genie back in the bottle. We have watched what happened to friends who tried to institute reforms and were broken against rigid church doctrine. So many of us continued to attend churches that hurt us spiritually out of a misguided sense of loyalty, that the discovery of options in this area is very precious and sacred.
5(b) ARTISTIC TALENT HAS NO EXPIRATION DATE.
An artist is an artist is an artist. It’s how we express our spirituality and hopefully inspire others. Emotionally moving art sneaks up on the soul by going through the heart instead of the mind. Please don’t funnel us into “leadership” and understand that we are already leading in our way.
6) WE ARE TIRED.
We have already spent decades on the perfectionism merry go round and have figured out it doesn’t get us into heaven. It just gets us a prescription for Prozac. Please don’t judge our insides by how our outsides may appear. We are sick of trying to be a perfect somebody else. We want to be the real us.