Evangelicalism is getting radical.
In my last post on what Millennials want, I hit on this, but not completely: Evangelical Christians are not fitting into a mold anymore. Millennials are desiring to live a faith that is not dichotomized into liberal/conservative, Democrat/Republican, evangelical/mainline categories. Millennials just want to live like Jesus, and that’s not in some pretty boxed-up category.
I’ve been taught my whole life that being anything but Southern Baptist was just not “the way.”
Then I went to a SBC college, took theology and doctrine classes, and learned that it was possible that I would spend eternity with other denominations, as long as they were evangelical or didn’t baptize babies.
Then I graduated college and spent some time in an Evangelical Presbyterian church, a church that taught me that baptizing babies wouldn’t send you to hell.
And now I work in a Mainline church, so I hope that isn’t true.
I share my background to let you know that I have grown a lot. I’m constantly being shaped.
So are a lot of Evangelicals that I HIGHLY respect. The best example is Lecrae, a Christian Hip-Hop artist whose initial songs were so explicitly Jesus, that they were cheesy. His next round of albums, although amazing, had such deep theology in its lyrics that you had to be a pretty mature Christian to even really understand what was going on. Now, his music has turned up (Turnt up?) in production quality, but isn’t so explicitly Jesus anymore. Some conservative Christians think he’s turning back on his faith. But as Lecrae points out countless times, especially in this Huffington Post article, he’s trying a new approach to reaching people for Christ: loving on them. Walking with them. And stopping the shoving of Jesus down their throats. I could lie and say that nothing about Lecrae has really changed, but au contraire: Lecrae is trying to imitate Jesus instead of just preaching him.
I feel like I relate to that so incredibly much, and I often struggle with how I’m perceived because of it. Andy Mineo, another Christian Hip-Hop artist, says in the song at the end of this post, “I talk about Jesus, all the Christians love me. I walk like Jesus, now they wanna judge me; ain’t it funny?” I’m in a stage of life where I’m questioning and incredibly empathetic towards others, and it’s the most beautiful and the most frustrating thing about me. But I finally feel like I’m beginning to understand the state of humanity as well as individuals.
Another Evangelical that I wasn’t expecting, but who blew my mind (and impressed me) was Bart Milliard of MercyMe. I’ve probably been to more MercyMe concerts than any other artist. I connected with their music as a young Evangelical, and they helped shape some of my faith as a teenager. It would be safe to assume, since our culture is assuming this about all Evangelicals, that the members are probably close-minded and uber-conservative. Like Lecrae, their music was very “Jesus Jesus Jesus” all the time; and that’s not bad! But I think Evangelicals are beginning to realize that they were only reaching other Evangelicals.
And I read this article by Bart that made me weep like a baby.
And again, as Andy Mineo put it, “I’m on a different tactic, call me a Boom Baptist.”
I am unashamedly rooted in an Evangelical foundation. Now I’m going to take the “Evangelize” out of “Evangelical” and put it to work–by walking with the lost where they’re at. Loving on them. Finding and giving them hope (as my church puts it).
I’m on a new path.