Pondering Faith Through Millennial Perspective

Contributing Writer

Editor’s Note: The author of this article is this semester’s student intern for Newspapers. From Kansas City, Kansas, she is a student at Oral Roberts University and the managing editor of the Oracle, the student newspaper.

In this postmodern age, many young Christians are searching for a connection to something greater than themselves within their faith. At least, I know I am. According to an article in the American Conservative called “Why Millennials Long for Liturgy,” Grace Olmstead explains the sad fact that in their search, many young people are leaving the church.

Still, she said, “amidst this exodus, some church leaders have identified another movement as cause for hope: rather than abandoning Christianity, some young people are joining more traditional, liturgical denominations—notably the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox branches of the faith.”

I am one of those young people. Growing up in a non-denominational, charismatic church, I didn’t hear much about the traditions of the ancient church. As a result, I formed some very wrong ideas about tradition and liturgy.

Though I cannot completely fault my home church for my own ignorance of church history, I think there is a misplaced fear of tradition in many non-traditional churches.

I’ve heard people claim that tradition restricts the Holy Spirit, inhibits a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, prevents people from thinking for themselves. A small glance at Christian history can explain why—as a result of the Protestant Reformation, Protestant Christians broke from the rigidity and control of the Catholic Church.

However, I think many of our churches have strayed too far from traditions in their search for spiritual freedom. In the important and necessary reform crept an arrogance that the Church had gotten it completely wrong until Luther hammered his Ninety-five Theses to the heavy church doors.

I won’t pretend liturgy, ritual, tradition aren’t restricting. But I think that’s the point. These aspects of the Christian life don’t restrict the Holy Spirit; they restrict us.

In the liturgical services I’ve had the honor of participating, I’ve noticed how healing and holistic the entire process is to the aching in my heart for some sort of ancient and holy structure in my spiritual life. Each aspect of the liturgy is purposeful, communal and meaningful. Not one moment or action in the service is practiced in vain.

This external process of sitting, standing, kneeling and communal participation becomes a comprehensive spiritual practice for me. The ritual is something in which I’m training my body, mind and heart to be consistent. I’m teaching my whole being its correct posture, much like practicing good bodily posture—like any other “ritualistic” behavior.

I would encourage all believers to at least try traditional forms of worship. Do not shy away from them for the sake of remaining “independent” or for fear of ruining your “personal” relationship with Christ. Assuming these holy actions “restrict” the Holy Spirit is a gross oversimplification of their purpose.

Church traditions are rich with history, understanding and connection. They’ve been tried and practiced by Christians who were just as connected to God in their day as we are now, with our fog machines, colorful lights and clever sermon titles.

Because when I sing the doxology or receive a benediction, my heart is postured toward Christ and my mind imagines singing and receiving with Christians from the first century and Christians across the globe today, simultaneously.

The millennial generation, now well into adulthood, is searching for true meaning in a world that screams, “make your own meaning!” I’ve felt that ache and God answers with his Word, his Spirit, his Son and his Church, in all its traditions and rituals.

Updated 11-16-2018

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