Sometime last week I saw an article on my Facebook feed titled “5 churchy phrases that are scaring off millennials” by someone name ADDIE ZIERMAN.
The article should have been titled “5 or more Millennial spiritual criticisms that are scary and Biblically off-base.” David Murray who blogs at “Head, Heart Hands” has written a balance and gracious response, that’s worth reading. What follows is my additional thought of the original Washington Times piece, with the majority of my points focusing on the incoherence within Zierman’s essay:
1.) It is astounding that the article by Addie fail to address whether the phrases he complain about is Biblical or not; it’s like what the Bible has to say escapes his radar. This is already a red flag concerning the epistemology behind his criticism.
2.) Readers familiar with Church history will find historical theology to be important here: you always have people pulling the alarm all the time of how the Church has scared off their generation, and yet the church has continued to grow and survived. Think of Modernism. Think of Harry Emerson Fosdick. If you have to say Harry who, this proves the point: These guys come and go but the Church somehow manage to outlive its naysayers. Of course, this is not because of some kind of self-righteousness of the Church but it is by the grace and power of God that people are still being saved through Christ Jesus and added to the Church.
3.) I’m also a Millennial his age (also born in 1983) and I think I’m done with all the readings over the years on Millennials. The opening few paragraphs strike me as a bad example of millennials, with his preoccupation of, well, himself. Go ahead, read the first five paragraphs again. It’s time to go beyond talking about ourselves and focus on loving and caring for God’s people within and outside the church with the Truth of the Gospel regardless their age group.
4.) This Washington Post piece lacks the rigor of journalism since his five phrases ended up coming from that of his followers. Note his own words: “Recently, I asked my followers online for the five church clichés that they tend to hate the most.” It is definitely a telling phrase: “my followers.” Very telling. Still, the point is that the method behind how he arrive at his list of five phrases does not reflect an actual scientific statistical survey; it’s not good enough for a statistics class in a community college, let alone a piece in the Washington Times. Again, I expect a better standard for something written for a newspaper!
5.) Since he arrived at his conclusion from asking his “followers,” doesn’t he see the danger that this ends up reinforcing his agenda than actually reflecting the true thoughts of Millennials? To use his own words, this is “maddening and alienating.”
6.) He rags at the church at large for giving simplistic cliches instead of answer, yet by his own admission he’s left it and came back to the church looking for “community” and not answers per se. It seems those who drink from the well of Postmodern spirituality often use the cliche that it’s about “community” and “conversation” that ends up avoiding the subject at hand. This red herring fallacy can be rather frustrating! It’s as if his Postmodernish buzz words in the essay don’t fall prey to the same criticism he has of church phrases!
7.) He ought to consider his own words that “things are almost always more complicated than that,” than just an appeal to a sense of “community,” “to be seen,” etc, as that which will not scare off Millennials. The essay fail to account that the Bible teaches how people can suppress the truth (Romans 1:18ff) and can love the World and their sins more than “going to church” or coming to trust in Jesus Christ.
8.) Our writer complains,
“We want to hear our pastors approach these words with humility and reverence. Saying, “This is where study and prayer have led me, but I could be wrong,” does infinitely more to secure our trust than The Bible clearly says…“
One should be more concern of the guy’s understanding of the perspicuity of Scripture. There are times where the Bible is clear on something and one has to say ” The Bible clearly says…”
9.) Zierman also doesn’t like “Black and white quantifiers of faith, such as “Believer, Unbeliever, Backsliding,” adding that “Millennials are sick of rhetoric that centers around who’s in and who’s out.” Zierman perhaps might not like the following quotation, because it’s not very accepting and strongly black and white:
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
Since Zierman and his fellow Millennials “have at our fingertips hundreds of commentaries, sermons, ideas, and books,” a quick internet search will reveal that the above are the Word of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-33.
10.) It’s incredibly ironic that Zierman, who doesn’t like “black and white quanitifers of faith,” would three sentence later do the same thing when he writes, “Those of us who follow the Christian faith know that world around us feels truer than the invisible God who holds it together.” Those of us who follow the Christian faith? You mean not all of us are followers of the Christian faith according to his paradigm? Isn’t ironic that Zierman is sick of “who’s in and who’s out” but the whole time in his essay he assumes that there are those who are in the church and those who left it, or are scared off away from it, etc?
Maddening. In the end his essay becomes the very thing it’s suppose to rail against: simplistic, not well thought out articulation of issues regarding faith. Much of this madness could have been avoided if the author is driven by Scripture first, the Wisdom of God.