A Call For Authenticity: Duane Arnold

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95 Responses

  1. Jean says:

    Excellent article and proposals.

    I always appreciate when the pastor prays for the other pastors and congregations in town, that God would use and bless them.

  2. Xenia says:

    Great article, Duane.

    I was one who made fun of Millennials. I repent.

    About authenticity… That is a good point. There are a lot of churches in the area with names like “Vintage Church,” etc., that are trying to create authenticity on a non-authentic base. I am not by any means saying their faith in God in not authentic- God forbid I should say that! – but calling an evangelical church’s coffee shop “The Abbey” and spreading a few candles and icons around without understanding the ancient theology behind these practices is ultimately inauthentic. But, it could be a step in the right direction. Some attempts to manufacture authenticity comes off as pretty contrived, in other words.

    Of course, there is more to an authentic church experience than incense and candles and you made a terrific list. Thanks for the great post.


  3. bob1 says:


    A good start would be, if you’re a youth pastor, don’t bother wearing your cap backward. And don’t call your youth group “Xtreme” anything. This is pandering, not authenticity.

  4. Jean says:

    A local mega church thought it would be a good idea to have a multi-week home prayer meeting program. They even had a 5 minute video to explain the Lord’s Prayer. Now it’s over.

    I was oscillating between laughing and disgust that the church discovered home prayer. Very authentic of them. 🙂

  5. Duane Arnold says:

    Thanks Jean and Xenia –

    Xenia – re: ‘The Abbey’, icons and candles – I think they are reaching out for something. We all start somewhere after all! You would hope that their church leadership would/could bring them along to something more…

  6. Xenia says:

    I think they are homesick and nostalgic for something they never really had but are trying to find. If they keep digging, they are going to come up with some serious challenges to their evangelical theology and then there will be a fork in they will have to negotiate.

  7. Steve Wright says:

    Duane, a good article indeed, but I feel it is important to remind that there was two very different issues in that prior discussion you reference and which leads to this article of yours.

    To repeat, some of us last week were most definitely NOT talking about millennials who need the Lord. Who are “unchurched” who at best have a friend who is a Christian. The article we were engaging was not talking about such people either.

    Then the comment thread took a different direction (as they often do and is normal) to talk about millennials as a whole, not a specific, narrow, minority subset of the millennial population.

    Reaching lost millennials with the gospel is very different than “How do we keep children who are baptized, raised, taught in church their whole life who then stop going once they get out of high school and away from parental control” – Two very different discussions.

    Once again though…good article here.

  8. Xenia says:

    I think this search for authenticity leads some people to join Messianic congregations. searching for their Hebraic roots.

  9. Duane Arnold says:

    #7 Steve

    I agree on the divergent nature of the discussion. The young film maker I referenced in the article is the son of a pastor – raised in the church, now inked… man bunned and all the rest. He wants something authentic, something sacred. Part of the problem is that we think of someone like him ‘returning’. I think what he wants, though, is not a return to what he once was, but a hope he encounters something new that he can recognize as being ‘real’. Just a thought…

  10. Papias says:

    True authenticity is a call for transparency with one another in the church.

  11. Xenia says:

    Orthodoxy attracts hipsters, but it’s often only on a superficial level.

    Our attractions:

    Beards, both on clergy and laity Man buns, too, are welcome.
    Women get to wear cool ethnic garb
    Obscure books
    Dreamy music
    Incomprehensible languages
    Mysterious rituals
    Relatively unknown to most Americans

    What could be more hipster than sitting in a dark corner of an Indie coffee shop, dressed like a Bulgarian peasant and reading a tattered copy of The Life of Saint Anthony by St. Athanasius?

    But it’s often only a pose. Some see past the bells and smells though and truly enter in.

  12. John 20:29 says:

    Authenticity – good food for thought and well presented… IMHO
    one thing that i’ve noticed over the decades of my life is that each generation sees the faults of their parents or their parents’ generation and focuses on not being like them… and they, then, develop their own biases and blind spots which the next generation sees and tries to avoid and so on it goes…
    my life bridges the old school go-to-church-on-Sunday, whether you believe or not – be respectable and the next generation: we’ve got to be relevant, show that we’re with it, hip and cool that followed…
    Authenticity will impact the world only if it comes out of a focus on Christ Jesus our Savior and coming King…
    some here like to focus on the fact that we are and always will be sinners… yes, we’re prone to sin, but that’s no excuse for a child of God… we confess and we move on and we grow and that’s authenticity in my book… it’s not a matter of having a strong personality, a backbone, if you will. Rather we stand steadfast IN the Faith…
    if there’s no “unnatural” dynamic to be seen, no life and hope, if we only stand there, naked sinners why would anyone be drawn to the Faith? Conversely, if we are good people, have our act together and Act polite at all times, isn’t that what has created the need for authenticity?
    Question is, for me at least, how do i live as an authentic Christian?

  13. Michael says:

    Great article and great comments so far…thank you, Duane and thank you, readers!

  14. Michael says:

    I told Duane this offline, but have to repeat it here…the Johnny Cash analogy is perfect to me in the context of this discussion.

  15. pstrmike says:

    One holy, catholic, apostolic church. Amen

    “Not institutional unity, but a generosity of spirit toward other believers. ” take note, CCA…

    Now that I got that out of the way, this is an interesting article which I am thinking through in regards to a recent experience. I live in an area away from any major population center, which I think explains why often observe social means within churches that are somewhat different than what is often described as “the new norm”, if in fact there is such a thing.

    I attended a Sunday evening Christmas program at a church where my grandkids were a part of the program. The church is rather conservative and a part of a mainline evangelical/pentecostal denomination. The whole evening had such a conservative, 70’s feel. I doubt I could, if the situation ever came up, make that church my home.

    And yet this is a church that has a vibrant fellowship among young adults, most of them married with children. Having met some of the young families that attend there, they don’t seem to try to be anything other than young adults who are raising their kids and looking for a community to belong to. There was a sense of openness about them. Perhaps that is the real attraction of this church, rather than having a cheesy christian coffee house, or serving organic breakfast wraps before the morning service.

  16. Scooter Jones says:

    I watched an ESPN 30 for 30 program last night about golfer John Daly.

    Talk about being authentic and transparent.

  17. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Aren’t there a 1,000 of these millennial run churches around? I see them in my geographical area. Millennials should not be having trouble finding a place to worship and have fellowship in the particular form they are searching for. Why are they not finding them.

    This is like the “woman pastor” need or the “gay church” need. There are plenty of churches around that have women pastors – don’t make me change mine because you have a “need”. There are plenty of “LBGTQ” (did I spell it right?) friendly churches to satisfy those looking.

    Perhaps I can be ‘authentic’ in my way and they can be ‘authentic’ in their way – is that bad?

    I brought this up when the article first got posted and the writer is wondering why other millennials were not at the information gathering meeting he was at – the place where they could have their questions and concerns answered. I said that they writer probbably did not think it important enough to communicate with his peers for the great opportunity that awaited them at his church – or if he did, they don’t listen to their peers and did not show up.

  18. Duane Arnold says:


    My sense is that they are not looking for “self-identified group” churches. In any case, their age group, according to all recent surveys, is among the most “unchurched” of any. What I’m suggesting is that is that we have a message to communicate, but that message must be authentic. Again, I don’t think they are buying into the American church cafeteria idea…

  19. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I agree, let’s keep the message authentic – but it must be an authentic rendition of the truth.
    How about – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

  20. Duane Arnold says:

    3:17, in particular, is what everyone needs to hear…

  21. Josh the Baptist says:

    ” In presenting Cash again to the public, especially younger musical devotees, Rubin did not try to make him something he was not. He did not try to make him appear younger or hip, which would have been an embarrassment, he simply asked him to be himself.”

    Uhh…he had him covering Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails. Not exactly Folsom Prison…

  22. Steve Wright says:

    I’m not sure the Cash comparison and renewal of career under Rubin is quite as spot on with the discussion, since a whole lot of that was Cash either recording with, or doing covers of other modern artists.

    I mean, do you guys know the sort of music and cult following a guy like Glenn Danzig has – I was listening to him with Misfits and Samhain in the dark punk Satanic era of the 1980s. So Rubin calls Danzig and asks him to write a song for Cash’s new album.

    Of course that is going to appeal to a whole different audience than traditional country music fans. That’s just one example.

    I really like most of the music Cash did during this period of the 90s, and as a Christian a whole lot of it has a different level of meaning to me than many listeners (just like when I listened to punk, though not an anarchist, I liked the music but it spoke differently to different audiences)

    Then again, I am not a fan of Cash’s cover of “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode (or the song as a whole)

    But I can see people digging a song like “God is going to cut you down” – especially given the video it was later marketed with and all the (mostly non country) legends that appear on it.

    I know I like Cash’s arrangement of it.

    Just my two cents…

  23. Steve Wright says:

    Josh beat me to the punch!

  24. Duane Arnold says:

    #21 and #23 Yes, but Cash did it in a manner that was authentic to who he was – even changing the lyric to “crown of thorns” in ‘Hurt’. Trent Reznor thought it was transcendent owing to the vulnerability of Cash…

  25. Josh the Baptist says:

    So should we make Gregorian chants with Tomlin’s Lyrics.

    Honestly, the Cash project was a novelty until Hurt was released. The nearly dead sounding voice singing about his Empire of Dust caught on and allowed people to view it all in a different way.

    I know that isn’t the thrust of the discussion, I’m just a music nerd, and didn’t think that was the best example.

  26. Steve Wright says:

    I’m just a music nerd, and didn’t think that was the best example.
    Me too. All the more since I can’t play a note on any instrument…so I love the history.

  27. Duane Arnold says:

    OK, for the music nerds (among whom I count myself) – you might enjoy this if you’ve not seen it… https://youtu.be/gg8xYSWOFR8

  28. Scooter Jones says:

    “The video was a bonfire of vanities.” ~Bono~

    Well defined.

  29. Josh the Baptist says:

    That was a cool video. Don’t know why Rick Rubin couldn’t have just worn shoes, but….

  30. John 20:29 says:

    #17-“Perhaps I can be ‘authentic’ in my way and they can be ‘authentic’ in their way – is that bad?” wouldn’t that depend on the authenticity of what?

    we seem to wobble back and forth here as to what is the target of the authenticity… i can’t help but think of the verse that observes that the heart is deceitful above all thing and desperately wicked – who can know it? Jeremiah17:5-10 does seem to address this authenticity thing… is our authenticity our focus?

  31. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    This is why I think “my authenticity” and “their authenticity” is appropriate – who can even know what authentic means?
    We are all clouded and we all come to any of life’s situation with presuppositions.

    It’s just another version of the post modern – “what’s true for you may not be true for me … but it doesn’t matter what is true.”

  32. Duane Arnold says:

    Leaving aside fine semantics…

    The immoral behavior of some church leaders – across denominations – calls into question our authenticity.

    Financial malfeasance calls into question our authenticity.

    The lack of the “sacred” in much that is coined “contemporary worship” calls into question our authenticity.

    The divorce of contemporary church life from church history calls into question our authenticity.

    I think most of us could come up with a pretty extensive list…

  33. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “The immoral behavior of some church leaders – across denominations – calls into question our authenticity.”

    I mean this seriously — WHY???

    Is it fair to expect 100% pure lives to be considered authentic? Perhaps the evaluator is not being ‘authentic’ is they demand that be the standard.

  34. Duane Arnold says:


    Look at what has happened to the RC Church in Ireland, Canada, Spain, etc. in the last two decades with regard to this question… It is a bit self-evident.

  35. Scooter Jones says:

    I’m sort of confused. So, not deviating from the established traditions and canonical order and liturgy is what establishes authenticity?

  36. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Yes, but that is not a legitimate charge. That is too large for anyone to handle.

    So the millennials’ charge is “I can’t go to church because of the immoral behavior happening in the RRC in Ireland.”

    They still put their money in banks even in light of the scandalous practices recently at Wells Fargo.

  37. Steve Wright says:

    I still think the church service is for believers and evangelism is personal, relational, and best done outside the walls of the Sunday morning hour.

    That was my point about the article last week – having a line item budget available online does not substitute for Christ crucified and the Holy Spirit’s convicting work.

  38. Xenia says:

    I still think the church service is for believers and evangelism is personal, relational, and best done outside the walls of the Sunday morning hour.<<<

    I agree with this. In the olden days, unbelievers (or those preparing for baptism) were sent out of the service after the teaching portion (Bible readings) was completed. After they left, the people recited the Creed. They had "Sunday School," you might call it, elsewhere.

  39. Duane Arnold says:

    #36 A non-sequential and illogical jump… BTW, we could also include the millions that have abandoned churches in America…

    #37 Agreed…

  40. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well, I find most people who do not go to church are more at war with God than they are the church – blaming the church is easier and less guilt inducing.

    I am a pretty good judge of people – I can look them in the eye and call BS on them when they say they don’t go to church because of me. It is still something about that narrow path – and many are out to make Jesus a liar by proving that the road to heaven can be widen to an 8 lane highway if we only did…

  41. Jean says:

    “O come, Desire of nations, bind
    In one the hearts of all mankind;
    Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
    And by Thyself our King of Peace.

    Rejoice! Rejoice!
    Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel!”

  42. Judy says:

    I have two Millennial daughters, one who walks with the Lord and one who is doing something else at this time but who knows who God is. The one who walks with the Lord has been very open with her unbelieving friends about her faith. She has talked about the Lord, what He has done in her life, how He has changed her, how He loves her, how He provides for her, how He answers prayer. And over a period of 10 years of so, that transparency and sincerity in conversation has led several of them to the Lord in a very dynamic way. Mind you, she has never preached church or theology to them. She has only talked to them about how God has moved in her life in a real way.

    Millennials are searching for truth and they are searching for sincerity. They want to see a real Christian life where God is moving and changing and answering prayer. They want to see someone deeply in love with the Lord, someone who is willing to stand on what they believe and know is true and be willing to give up all for it. They are looking for authenticity that, I believe, comes on a very personal/friendship level. But they are looking and they are open and they are converting when they find it because it blows their mind to see this kind of love and this kind of dedication when mixed with seeing how God responds to his children.

    It’s nothing new. It was the same thing in the 60’s and 70’s. This is not a mystery generation. They’re just genuine people looking for genuine truth.

  43. Jean says:

    I don’t think this aspect has been shared here yet, but in the local evangelical mega church, which has grown by emptying the other denominational churches in town, one thing that strikes you right away is the highly sophisticated stage show of worship by essentially a rock bank. In my opinion, this type of praise music (imagine Hillsong United or instance) is very emotional to the point of sexual. I would not be surprised if the worship leaders have groupies and are engrossed in sexual temptation or worse.

    It brings young people in, but I don’t think it catechizes parishioners with the catholic, apostolic faith.

  44. Linnea says:

    I haven’t read all the comments, but such a great article, Duane! Millennials live in a different world than we did in our 20’s and 30’s. Truly, they have more to consider than we did. My children are in their 20’s and I’m appalled at what they see in their own generation. We need to be merciful to these 20 and 30-somethings, and Duane nailed it–we need to be authentic.

  45. Steve Wright says:

    You two Lutherans are going to have to explain to the rest of us one day how all these wonderfully catechized parishioners in your churches are so quickly attracted by the sex music at the big new church in town…

  46. brian says:

    A bit off topic but it made me smile a bit


  47. Erunner says:

    Jean @ 43… Wow! Do you think folks are having orgasms while listening to this music?

  48. bob1 says:



    If you Lutherans really want folks to experience traditional worship…this is a really bad way to go about it.

  49. Erunner says:

    I’m trying to differentiate Jean’s #43 from some of the off the wall stuff I have been subjected to by ODM folks through the years. I’m not seeing any and so I responded in a crass way to make my point.

  50. Scooter Jones says:

    Jean, surely you know that link you posted on Babylon Bee is a spoof?

  51. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Scooter – that is the whole point. People seriously come with calls to authenticity and then you find that authenticity has already been spoofed in the BabylonBee

  52. Scooter Jones says:

    MLD, well, I guess I just can’t keep up with all of these cultural buzz words. From authenticity to fake news, I get easily confused as to what the real point really even is these days 😉

  53. London says:

    I think one thing that folks in their 20s and 30s want is to be able to participate and share ideas. Because they have access to so many kinds of teachings, lectures, talks on the internet, they can always hear a message. What they want, according to my nephew (25) and some others I’ve talked with, is a place to talk through and sort out all those messages into something that makes sense to them.

    Also, they do want to help those that are less fortunate than they are. They just do it differently than we do. Many of them are super busy with new jobs, families and/or school, they don’t have time to plan events…but, if you can offer them a way to participate in a one off event, then they are more than willing to help out (at least that’s been my experience). Tell them what you need, and they show up to help. Make sure you take a photo of them and tag them on social media for proof of their contribution. It’s just the new way of giving pats on the back. 🙂

    They just communicate differently than we did when we were their age. They have so many more creative ideas and ways of getting things done than we give them credit for sometimes.

    I’m a fan of millennials!

  54. At the bottom of the page at The Babylon Bee…

    “The Babylon Bee is Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire.”


  55. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The issue is not the millennials themselves – they are perfectly content staying away from church. The problem is the way that the Pop American Christian Church falls all over themselves about this issue.

    Folks complain that the problem with the American church is the ties to politics – this is not the problem. The issue is that the Pop American church is so much linked to capitalism. The Church mimics what goes on in the business world. They look and say we have a product, the gospel, that we are suppose to be selling so they send out messages that meet the felt needs of a particular market segment. Why? so they will buy the product. This is corruption – we are not to go out and market the gospel, we are to proclaim it. (in this case with the millennials, do a survey, see what they want and develop a new marketing program)

    This all comes under the guise of being “fishers of men”. But the Pop American church still does this all wrong – they are bait fishers – putting out different baits, using different lures to see which attractive tasty, shiny new thing will capture the unsuspecting eye of the target market.

    Biblical fishing is casting out the net – the net is the gospel – and dragging in what the gospel was captured. This is what Jesus said to do.

    About the Babylon Bee – if the BB is mocking it, we need to stay away from it. I don’t know where they get all their material, but … wait, I do know – they watch the typical Pop American church at work and they report on it. 🙂

  56. Duane Arnold says:

    #42 Judy,

    You nailed it – “genuine”…

    #55 London,

    I’m a fan, as well. It’s why we need to take them seriously and not just engage in being “snarky” on the sidelines. I sometimes think that boomers consider themselves “the norm” by which to measure all other groups. The trouble is, we’re on our way out. Soon, there will be very few of us sitting in increasingly empty pews telling each other how great we are…

  57. j2theperson says:

    Is this article only directed at evangelical churches or at all churches? I’m just kind of baffled as to what substantive things churches could do to meet millennials’ expectations. I go to an Episcopal church so, rightly or wrongly, they don’t tend to draw hard doctrinal lines between them and other churches and believers. They’re also, rightly or wrongly, very accepting of and understanding of LGBTQ issues. There are volunteer opportunities at our church; I know we are one of the churches that helps prepare meals at the local warming shelter, and we do fundraisers for various causes. We don’t dumb down our liturgy, and the Diocese of Fond Du Lac has, I’ve been told, traditionally been a little more high churchy than some of the other episcopal diocese in the country.

    It seems to me that our church would hit all 4 of your points, but we don’t have young people flocking to us in great numbers. Since they aren’t should we start feeling guilty and in-authentic and start trying to change how we’re doing things? And if we should change stuff what exactly should we change?

  58. Duane Arnold says:


    I pointed the article a bit more toward evangelical churches, but tried to make it broad enough to include others. I’m aware of your diocese and your parish sounds like one I could easily attend!

    The article wasn’t meant to really provide four points for the evangelism of millennials. It was to say if we want them to be a part we need to stop sniping from the sidelines and start looking at the things we might be doing that push them away. It really doesn’t work if one disrespects the very people they are trying to reach…

    Your social action outreach would seem to me to be ideal to help draw in other like minded people. Maybe you could look for additional volunteers in from the community at large. You might come up with some very interesting people who would see the volunteer work as a bridge to the church…

  59. Steve Wright says:

    Disrespects the people they are trying to reach? Sorry, I don’t see that at this blog. There is plenty of behavior to disrespect when we watch the news or engage our culture, but that is true of any age group – for example baby boomer adulterous pastors.

    I expect lost people to act like lost people…I sure did. I expect saved people to at least try to act like saved people….age is immaterial.

    If saved people of any age act as if they have come to be served, rather than to serve, then they need to be discipled in the Way of the Master. Church can help in that….

  60. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    For me, if I am trying to put together a program to meet the felt needs of the millennials, for fulfillment, for fellowship, for service etc I would direct them first to the local Elks Club. They do tremendous works in all of these areas – and they are wonderful people.

    At my home in Lake Havasu City the Elks Club sits on the same strip with 3 churches. The parking lot everyday at the Elks is full (all day and all night) and all the church parking lots are empty … they almost catch up on Sunday mornings.

    Here is the thing – when they find out that all of that is not what they are looking for, I don’t want them to be mad at God or other Christians. Let them be mad at the Elks and they can put on Facebook why they no longer attend the Elks Club instead of why they don’t attend church. When they are ready, they will come to church.

  61. Duane Arnold says:

    Steve, I was not referring to this blog in particular, as I hope you know. That being said, as I mentioned in the post, we can tend to look at groups as “wholly other”…

    “I expect saved people to at least try to act like saved people….age is immaterial.” Agreed without reservation.

  62. John 20:29 says:

    London’s thoughts are worth thinking on – IMHO 🙂
    Jesus (i admit a different time and place) would sit and talk with those who’d been churched, but were not, necessarily, the movers and doers of the O.T. Faith
    i think i see a generation that can spot commercialism a mile away and i do understand them not wanting to be some pastor’s vacuous little worker bees in his pet projects (whether the pastor intends it that way or not is another issue)
    that said, the millennials are more mind manipulated by the culture in which they’ve been raised than they know (we all are)…
    which brings my thinking full circle back to being genuine … maybe, living our lives as if we believed what we believe – trusting with love and fear a holy God – is the best that most of us pew sitters can do…
    that said, i admit to being blindsided by younger folk just spontaneously asking me about my Faith… i am convicted by not being ready to answer… knock on my door, tho and that’s a whole ‘nother ball game
    great ponder on being genuine… would like to be genuinely ready to give an answer to those who ask, no matter where or when

  63. Josh the Baptist says:

    The odd thing about all of this is that the only churches around here who have any amount of millennials are Furtick and his kind. He has 10’s of thousands of millennials. So does Newspring (before Perry left anyway). I know they talk about deep, rooted stuff, but when it comes down to it, I think they chase the flashiest , easiest object just like the rest of us.

  64. Jean says:

    I agree with you about the human impulse to desire the flashy.

  65. Duane Arnold says:

    #65/66 And I wonder if it is “flash” that they are really looking for…

  66. Duane Arnold says:

    As an additional thought, a music leader (a millennial) recently left his position to go to another church. When I asked him why, he told me, “I was just tired of being part of a show, you know, whipping people up… I just couldn’t do it anymore, it wasn’t real and I knew it…”

  67. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “#65/66 And I wonder if it is “flash” that they are really looking for…”

    This was the point in my #57 — well, part of the point. Millennials don’t know what they want (I am not speaking of all because some are well grounded and in churches.) – but the loose ones. The Pop American Church knows what bait and lures to use.

    Even then, the millennial may not have been looking for the “flash” but when it is dangled in front of them – they think that is what they wanted. But in the end, it wasn’t and they leave disappointed.

  68. Duane Arnold says:

    Some might find this of interest – cultural commentator Bob Lefsetz on Snapchat and Authenticity… http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/2016/12/19/authenticity-2/

  69. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I have no idea what Snapchat is (but I will google it later) but I think I pass their test for authentic – “Authenticity… Are you speaking from the gut or saying what’s expedient? Are you willing to take a stand on the issues of the day? Do you have rough edges that thrill some and piss off others, as opposed to being a wishy-washy wimp?”

    I think I have rough edges and I piss people off. 🙂

  70. Xenia says:

    MLD, I can assure you that you are authentic.

  71. Duane Arnold says:

    I thought you would like that part…

    I also liked

    “In the classic rock era acts testified. Today all we’ve got is crickets. The artists are too afraid. Of not only pissing off fans, but corporations.

    And that’s just plain wrong.

    People know what’s real and what’s fake. And you might be able to fool some of them some of the time, but never all of them all of the time.”

  72. j2theperson says:

    I question how much a churches’ social outreach actually draws in new member. I do think s church should try to contribute in some way to the community it is a part of but at the same time I haven’t seen much evidence that engaging in social action will lead to increased attendance or new members. My church helps at the warming shelter, has participated in multiple run/walk fundraisers for worthy causes, has opened our doors and provided meeting space free of charge to organizations like AA and La Leche League and the local university theatre students. We let organ students use our organ to practice. These are all decent nice things to do but I haven’t seen them add to our numbers. The recovering addicts and breastfeeding moms and college students who use our building are not showing up on Sunday. The homeless people we help feed and the warming shelter employees and volunteers we interact with aren’t coming to our services. The people suffering from cancer or whatever that we’ve helped raise money for research aren’t showing up. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be going these things but doing them and trying to contribute to our community as we can and being socially involved has not marked us out as “authentic” or worth checking out as a church by remarkable numbers of young people.

  73. j2theperson says:

    Also in this day and age and in this culture I question how worthwhile it is for a church itself to get into charity and volunteer work. We should definitely be encouraging our members to help those around them and engage in charitable practices but there are so many independent organizations out there focused on all sorts of specific charitable endeavors it makes more sense in my mind for people to volunteer and donate to those rather then have their church reinvent the wheel as it were and start its own outreach for an issue that probably already has a dedicated nonprofit focused on it.

  74. Steve Wright says:

    Today all we’ve got is crickets. The artists are too afraid. Of not only pissing off fans, but corporations.
    That is laughable in how wrong it is. We can’t shut up modern pop artists from spouting their opinions left and right. And that’s to paying customers in the middle of the concert, besides their twitter feeds.

    I have listened to countless bootleg rock concerts back in the day (used to have a great CD source for securing them) and the classic rock artists barely spoke a word beyond introducing the band and opening with “Hello Dallas! (or wherever)…They were there to play and some of them expressed their politics (or other opinions) through their music – often quite effectively and creatively.

    A far cry from the latest Disney girl who barely has a drivers license singing her lovesick boyfriend songs and then randomly chiming in with some “This guy is a Nazi” and “I am moving out of America”

  75. Duane Arnold says:


    The hope would be to interact in that arena with people who, when they engage with you in the work that you are doing also sees the reason you are doing it… I think all evangelism is, to a large extent, personal… one on one.

  76. Steve Wright says:

    j2 is knocking it out of the park today, in my opinion.

  77. Duane Arnold says:

    #78 Indeed… good, thoughtful reflections…

  78. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Almost all of our new membership comes through our schools and friends of the school – the school is our main community outreach.

    We do very little “community” service out of our church – so the community doesn’t see the direct tie. We do all of our food drives, backpacks, Christmas shoe boxes, Angel Tree etc through South County Outreach with is a community service. We collect in church from the members but it is all distributed through the other organization.


  79. JonnyB says:

    Congrats on the “phd.”

    An excellent article. I still think that the mills are basically lazy. ?

    BUT I do agree with you on your views.

    We haven’t done New Testament church for the most part and that leaves us unappealing.

  80. Duane Arnold says:

    Congrats would be for about 35 years ago…

  81. surfer51 says:

    Gosh your old 🙂

  82. Stephen says:

    I have not read all the comments yet, so this has probably been said:

    Authenticity is actually walking the walk that you talk…and being “real” to your struggles and forthcoming with them.

  83. Al says:

    ‘So, how do we attract millennials as well as others who have left the Church?’

    I think you’re right about authenticity. God/Holy Spirit is the one who stirs the hearts/minds. Having said that, the PR and marketing stuff does attract some people yet turns off others. I think it’s a mixed bag.

    The “church” will continue to lose ground with the younger generations as our educational system and culture becomes more like Europe which gave way to secular liberalism and humanism long ago. The traditional conservative parts of the church don’t have good answers for challenges from science and philosophy and textual criticism and logic etc which turns off a lot of agnostics and the younger folks who question the traditional views more often.

  84. Al says:

    However, there is still great opportunity to be authentic and to reach out to the younger generation because Life can be very hard and hardship and sickness and struggles and finances and life’s challenges…combined with the innate spirituality that most humans have….can present opportunity to present hope through a traditional Christian/Jesus Gospel message and to show and demonstrate love and compassion toward people…which can open doors and hearts.

  85. Al says:

    Don’t be too authentic though LOL. Sometimes discretion and self-control is wise. You don’t have to always “keep it real” and show the worst side of yourself like I have on this blog in the past. It’s OK to not express every thought and pick and choose what to let out, that is not being a phony hypocrite, I think it’s being mature 🙂

  86. Stephen says:

    Of course. (Originally didn’t think it was necessary to add that, but I see now that it would have been good for clarities sake)

  87. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I like authenticity (still not quite sure what it is) but here is an authentic millennial – speaking to the millennial – and this is what needs to happen – a millennial to millennial conversation.

  88. covered says:

    It’s good to see you Al. I think about you often and pray. Hopefully things are going well.

  89. Al says:

    Hi covered, good to see you on here as well. Love you guys and gals. Appreciate your kindness over the years.

    MLD, good to see you, you’re a good man, I’ve grown to really appreciate you.

  90. Victor says:

    The “church” will continue to lose ground with the younger generations as our educational system and culture becomes more like Europe which gave way to secular liberalism and humanism long ago.

    I think this is a main cause. As the world encroaches, The Spirit withdraws, perhaps? Also, the elder generations have given up the role of mentorship. IIRC (since I read the book almost a decade ago), this was one of the points of Mark Baulerin’s The Dumbest Generation. One of his other points was that young people being constantly connected with each other as a peer group can stifle growth in maturity. How many dinner table conversations can one have without one’s teen or pre-teen texting under the table to keep in contact with their peer group?

    For example, my ex brother-in-law, a very smart young man, moved back home after completing his undergrad, and I see he and his cohorts still obsessed with Pokemon. At that age, I was 6 years moved out of my mother’s house, working for a tech company, and putting money into my 401(k), even on my then measly salary. Then again, I wasn’t enabled; I was pushed.

    I think I’m closer to MLD’s view on this one. However, I may be a few years disconnected. I did at-risk youth mentoring for a couple of years, but when I had kids, my focus had to turn to my home and my own lambs.

    The Gospel is foolishness to the world, and as the world becomes wiser in its own eyes, the Gospel becomes even more foolish.

  91. John 20:29 says:

    #s 87 & 88- wise and, like most truth, succinct

    “The Gospel is foolishness to the world, and as the world becomes wiser in its own eyes, the Gospel becomes even more foolish.”

    perhaps, our authenticity as Christians should be more intra than inter mural (to use terms previously posted)… life as a Believer in a world of chaos should show up as focused and growing in stability – real – real maturity… a good and basically enjoyable way of life
    the Christian way of life used to be the still point in this evermore spinning out of control world
    sadly, the best generation to model is the generation that gave birth to the so-called greatest generation and they are long gone now… listening to all the pontificating at the passing of John Glenn, i realized that it just isn’t possible to understand his generation (no, they weren’t all Dudley Do Rights, but they knew what was right and what was wrong) – worse yet, IMHO, is the inability to see the core (not corps, but that might be true also) of good, stable persevering people of the Great Depression that produced them…

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