Sunday, July 28, 2013


Rachel Held Evans is a blogger I frequently read for her thoughtful, biblically grounded, sometimes provocative, and lovingly honest conversations with the church--the Church she loves deeply.  I felt this post, which she wrote for the CNN belief blog was worth re-posting.  I an sure some of my subscribers will not agree with all of her comments, but in my interaction with Millenials, Rachel is speaking truth--unwelcome truth for many. - Steve

By Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN
(CNN) At 32, I barely qualify as a millennial.

I wrote my first essay with a pen and paper, but by the time I graduated from college, I owned a cell phone and used Google as a verb.

I still remember the home phone numbers of my old high school friends, but don’t ask me to recite my husband’s without checking my contacts first.

I own mix tapes that include selections from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but I’ve never planned a trip without Travelocity.

Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I’m often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.

Armed with the latest surveys, along with personal testimonies from friends and readers, I explain how young adults perceive evangelical Christianity to be too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I point to research that shows young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness.

I talk about how the evangelical obsession with sex can make Christian living seem like little more than sticking to a list of rules, and how millennials long for faith communities in which they are safe asking tough questions and wrestling with doubt.

Invariably, after I’ve finished my presentation and opened the floor to questions, a pastor raises his hand and says, “So what you’re saying is we need hipper worship bands. …”

And I proceed to bang my head against the podium.

Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.

But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.

In fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular.

Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.
We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.

We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.

We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.

We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.

We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.

Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.
Now these trends are obviously true not only for millennials but also for many folks from other generations. Whenever I write about this topic, I hear from forty-somethings and grandmothers, Generation Xers and retirees, who send me messages in all caps that read “ME TOO!” So I don’t want to portray the divide as wider than it is.

But I would encourage church leaders eager to win millennials back to sit down and really talk with them about what they’re looking for and what they would like to contribute to a faith community.
Their answers might surprise you.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at The views expressed in this column belong to Rachel Held Evans.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


The church with an immediate mission


I am back from my blogcation.  It was a good time of rest and reflection and I was able to get much of the writing completed that I was on the hook for.  I had intended to wait one more week before relaunching into the blogosphere.  Then I went to Findlay OH to attend my denomination's triennial General Conference and I met the folks of the Firehouse Community Outreach.  Well, actually I met young lady currently living in Chicago, who was in the process of moving to Moore OK via a wedding in a couple of months in Yipsilanti MI.  Her name was Heather Dabrowski.

Heather was an energetic young lady who was part of a service team I was heading that took one afternoon off from denominational business to provide various acts of service to our host community.  I was responsible for three teams that would be working in nursing homes.  She worked with myself and three men to bring a little encouragement to residents, many of whom were suffering from dementia and psychological issues.  Heather painted nails and led an amazing Bible study for a small group of residents of St, Catherine's Nursing Home.

Heather at St. Catherine's Home in Findlay OH
Back to Moore OK.  The Churches of God have had two churches in this southwest Oklahoma City suburb, both of which are now closed.  Heather's Dad, Daren Dabrowski, had been agreed to leave a lucrative job in maufacturing to help my denomination plant a new church in Moore. The new church is called The Gate Church.  Heather and her fiancee were in the process of marrying, then moving to Moore to join the church planting effort.

Are you letting the name Moore OK sink in?  On Monday, May 20, 2013 a massive, howling tornado pulverized a vast swath of this Oklahoma City suburb, chewing up homes and businesses and severely damaging a hospital and two elementary schools. The storm, rated an EF5* on the Enhanced Fujita scale, carved a trail as much as 1.3 miles wide and 17 miles long.  The new church building that will house this new congregation was directly in the path of the monster but emerged unscathed.  That's when Daren decided it was time to close up shop up north and head to Oklahoma and Firehouse Community Outreach was born.  The church became the focal point of the nongovernmental relief efforts for Moore's tornado victims and now the rebuilding efforts of the residents.

That's where Heather comes in.  From her home in Chicago she manages the phone calls, emails, correspondence, negotiations and arrangements with officialdom in Moore and the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers from around the nation who have sent money, supplies, and themselves to Moore to help the new Church of God currently known as Firehouse Community Outreach become a force for healing and hope in the place where they plan on building redemptive relationships with Jesus Christ.  
Daren Dabrowski (right) and one of the many "friends" of Moore OK

There's a whole lot more to be told about this story unfolding in Moore.  And I hope to tell it.If you'd like to be a part of it, go to the web at:  Or you can call its office at 405-759-0778. Heather will answer the phone.

(C) 2013 by Stephen L Dunn


Monday, July 1, 2013


One of the great joys in my life is creative writing. These days the bulk of that goes to my weekly sermons and the many blogs I own or contribute to. (Those of you who have Facebook friendships with me know there are a lot of them because I used Networked Blogs tied to my home page to syndicate them). Sermons I write for a living, blogs I write for pleasure, encouragement, edification and catharsis. But I am falling behind on the creative writing I do for a living. Right now I have a book and three manuals that need to be completed yesterday and need to stop and attend to paying the rent.  So borrowing from a concept I learned from another blogger.  I am about to take a blogcation.

Beginning July 1st I am taking a 30-day blogcation from all blogs including this one so I can get that other writing done.  The exception will be the two blogs tied to my church consulting ministry Being the Best Church for the Community and Bridges to the Bridge.  Anything you get during that time has been pre-written and pre-scheduled.  (Unless, of course, I get so inspired or fired up that I take a vacation from the blogcation.)  Don't cancel your subscription, just be patient.  I look forward to rejoining you on the internet.  - STEVE