Julie R. Neidlinger, editor of the Lone Prairie online magazine has nailed it. In her article, Why I Walked Out of Church she describes the disaffection so many young Americans have with the modern Evangelical church, "the coffee bars in the foyer, the casual attire, the buzz words, all the programs and activities imaginable, the big-screen video monitors, the contemporary music," all of it.
She confides that a recent World Magazine cover story about "NextGen Worship" actually "inspired a strong desire to smack the pastors depicted in the article and in the photos. The cover photo alone enraged me, with the pastor wearing baggy jeans and untucked button-up shirt with flip flops and an ear microphone. Later, the same guy is shown out front of a church holding a paper Starbucks-like cup of coffee. Could he try any harder to be lame? I'd have liked to have taken that cup of coffee and dumped it on his head. But it's nothing personal against that guy or his beliefs or sincerity. It's an anger at something else."
She goes on to say, "I'm not going to be one of those starched-collar Christians who, based on personal preference, say that this is a sign we're going to hell in a handbasket and that all things are wrong unless they are done as they were with the Puritans. What I'm saying is that I can't stand the phoniness, or trendiness, or sameness that the church seems to catch onto at the tail end, not even aware of how lame it is. The fact that this is not only actually successful in appealing to people, but attracts them, also disgusts me. It makes me want to throw up. It's buying into some kind of lie or substitution of cool culture as being relevant when it isn't."
Then she says, "If I see another cool Bible college student or pastoral studies major wearing the hemp choker necklace, flip-flops, open-at-the-collar shirt that's untucked, and baggy jeans, saying words like dude and sweet, I will kick their ass. It's like the Christian version of annoying hipsters, an overly-studied and homogenized with-it faux coolness."
Amen and amen. I agree 100%.
What she longs for, she says, is her "home town church" filled with "ordinary, uncool people" who actually "know each other." In other words, as my friend Bing Davis has said, "what she is longing for is parish."
Neidlinger's article is a classic. But her longing is even more classic. May God bring that same realization to modern Evangelicals--before it is too late and all the "Julies" of this land "walk out of church" too.