The Post-Church Christian is a book written by father and son, both of whom have served as pastors in Evangelical churches. It addresses many of the reasons why the younger generation is leaving the church, and how the older generation views their choices. It is written in a conversational style, with the son going first, presenting the view of “millennials”, and then the father going next, presenting the “boomer” view. In the final section, they combine their points to discuss the future of the church.
As neither a millennial (I miss the cutoff by a mere 18 months) nor a baby boomer (by, uh, about 15 years), I thought this might be an interesting book to read. I figured that I could hopefully see the value in the points made by each side.
In the first section, showing the millennial viewpoint, Carson Nyquist covers many of the big reasons why his generation is turned off by the church. If you browse through my previous posts, you’ll probably find them all listed, LOL. His first issue is the church’s lack of authenticity in sharing sins. Quoting Jon Acuff, he says,
Have you ever been in a small group with people that confess safe sins? Someone will say, “I need to be honest with everyone tonight. I need to have full disclosure and submit myself in honesty… So you brace yourself for this crazy moment of authenticity and the person takes a deep breath and says… “I haven’t been reading my Bible enough.”
Yes, we’ve all seen it. When my husband and I first started attending The Refuge, we talked about how awesome and also incredibly uncomfortable it was that everyone there was really, truly open with the kinds of sins that you never heard mentioned elsewhere. Even the pastors! It was mind-blowing.
The book goes on to mention Jon Acuff’s idea of “giving the gift of going second”, meaning that if you honestly share your struggles, the ugly ones that no one normally mentions at church, it is much easier for the next person to be honest. I saw this at the Refuge, and it rocked my world. I will never look at faith communities the same, and I now have a much higher standard.
Throughout the rest of his section, Carson addresses other frustrations with Evangelical culture, including the lack of integration of faith life and everyday life, pop culture/copycat Christianity, the fact that Jesus wasn’t a white Republican, and the church’s stance on homosexuality. I found myself nodding along to many of his frustrations.
The second section, written by Paul Nyquist, covers the “boomer” response to the millennials. One of his main arguments is that the millennials need to forgive the boomers and have grace on them, both because we are all part of an eternal family and called to forgive. I found his argument really compelling. He also discusses how the younger generation will make mistakes itself and soon be passing the torch on to their children and be looking for forgiveness themselves. He apologizes for the mistakes made, and tries to explain the boomers viewpoints and why they’ve chosen to run the church in the way that they have.
The final section brings both voices together, with a vision for what the future could bring for the church. Paul asks again for reconciliation and forgiveness, Carson reminds millennial readers that they will also make many mistakes in trying to follow God as best as they can, and that grace is needed for all of us. They both do a good job of wrapping up their points throughout the book and bringing it together in a cohesive way.
All-in-all, I enjoyed this book. It is a quick read, and although I’ve either said or heard many of the general ideas covered in here, the authors took fresh approaches to many of them and kept my attention throughout. I really like the format of the book and felt like it gave me a better understanding of both the generation in front of and the generation behind me. I love the conversation that they’ve started, and I hope that it continues.