A Plea to Millennial Christians: Commit Yourselves to a Church Community (Reject Selfish Love of Autonomy)
Over the years, I’ve seen a tension in myself and other millennial Christians (those born between 1981-200): we want to be known and part of a church community, but we also want freedom to leave and go elsewhere. This situation creates a problem for us, because to be known by others requires time, vulnerability, and sacrifice—things which go against our addiction to autonomy (freedom to do what we want when we want). You and I are torn between a desire to be a committed member of a church community and an incessant drive to possess unrestricted liberty with our time. This leads many of us to be nominally (in name only) committed to a church—never becoming members and never faithfully joining a small group—and left feeling frustrated and unknown. Such a position is dangerous for our souls and harmful to the church.
We were meant to be in community. This is evident in the way that the Apostle Paul compares the church to a human body made up of various parts (1 Cor 12:12). If you’re a Christian, you are one of these body parts. You might be a hand, a foot, a leg, or an ear. Every part is important and each has a particular function. These parts are united together under Christ, who is the head, through the Holy Spirit. Thus, by abnegating your position in a church, you are hurting the body of Christ–much like a body is harmed when it loses a limb. There are ministries which need your gifts. There are older Christians who need your encouragement. There are younger Christians who need your guidance. The church is missing your service, and your selfish love of freedom is destroying those around you.
The desire we have to be known and part of a community on mission is good and right. This is not some fairy-tale ideal, but a God created reality—God has redeemed a people for His own possession in space-time history to display His beautiful excellencies (Titus 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:9-10). This people has been given a mission by Jesus—the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20)—and we were saved to labor together with other Christians to proclaim the gospel to the lost and to make disciples of every nation. So by choosing ‘freedom from being tied down,’ you are hindering the task of setting free those who spiritually dead and slaves to sin. Your love for a perverse freedom is hindering a greater love for a true freedom.
Finally, our love of freedom is destroying our souls. The Scriptures command us not to forsake assembling with other believers (Heb 10:25). To reject such words—or redefine them to suit our purposes—is foolishness and rebellion. Our love of freedom is not leading to a greater liberty, but to enslavement to selfishness. By rejecting the call to commit to a church community, we reject the possibility of elders watching over and caring for us, brothers or sisters speaking words of encouragement or rebuke to us, and protection from the wolves who want to destroy our souls. Half-hearted commitment is putting our soul is a perilous position.
I know making a decision and committing oneself to something is scary, but committing yourself to a church community is a good and right thing to do. Jesus delivers us from the godless and anti-biblical philosophies of this sinful age, and that includes the view which exalts autonomy above godliness. Christ was committed to die on a cross for you and me, so that we might be free to delight in Him forever and bring glory to Him with our lives in community. This is so much better than the self-centered, isolating, foolish mantra that urges us to ‘never be tied down.’
Millenial Christian, commit yourself a church community. Do it today.