Today’s guest post is by Caleb Breakey, author of the new book Called to Stay: An Uncompromising Mission to Save Your Church. Called to Stay takes a refreshingly honest look at the church, the problem of millennials leaving, and the stark reality of why the church desperately needs them.
A niche group of millennials—roughly ages 18–35—are leaving the church because they don’t see the point of staying in local churches when Jesus is calling them to redeem the world.
These millennials are open and reachable, but you need to know how to call them to a life of sacrifice that’s greater than themselves.
I outline how to achieve this in my new book Called to Stay, in which I ask millennials, “What if Jesus is calling you to redeem not only this world, but also your local church?” Called to Stay draws heavily on Scripture to show millennials that God commands us to be lights not only to this world, but also to our sisters and brothers.
Here are five Scripture-based reasons why millennials need to stay in church:
1. Staying is part of the Great Commission
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . .” (Matthew 28:19). Millennials hear this a lot. What they don’t often hear is that we, the body, are also supposed to teach one another to “ . . . observe [obey] all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). This second part of the Great Commission is never-ending, and we must rise to the challenge of teaching each other to be more like Jesus—especially those who are stagnant or imbalanced in how they think or live.
2. Staying is a commandment
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” —Hebrews 10:24–25
This verse is a commandment to help other believers embrace the way of Jesus—not only those we meet at a coffee shop for spiritual discussions, but also those who get on our nerves in the body of Christ. This doesn’t happen when we cherry-pick the believers we meet with. It happens when we plug into a messy local church.
3. Staying shows great forgiveness
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” —Ephesians 4:32
To stay in a local church requires a lifestyle of forgiveness. You will wrong others and they will wrong you. But if our ultimate goal is to be like Jesus, then forgiving the unforgivable in local expressions of the global church is the biggest step to achieving it.
We’re never, ever more like Christ than when we forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it. The proof is in the cross.
4. Staying retrieves wandering souls
“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” —James 5:19–20
Believers who are going through the motions are primed for life change. I know because I was the deadest of all Christians . . . until God brought passionate followers into my life and used them to flip my heart upside down.
If your local church seems dead, if you’re frustrated that nobody lives as a reflection of Jesus—then be Jesus to them. It changes people. It makes them stop and think: What is different about this person? Why are they so in love with Christ and so serious about the red letters? Then they start thinking about their own lives and the Holy Spirit stirs transformation.
5. Staying reflects the unconditional love of Christ
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers .” —1 John 3:16
In the final chapter of Called to Stay, I write that Jesus died at the hands of his people, for his people. By this we know his love is true. When we invest our lives in the body of Christ, we will be hurt as well. But this is how we prove our love for Jesus is true—by hurting for who he hurt for, and by giving our lives to those for whom he gave his life.
Download Breakey’s ambitious rallying cry to heal the church: get Called to Stay for 35% off!