Do We Need the church?

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

Do we?

I am talking about little c church not big C.

Through a conversation with a friend the other day about 20 somethings and the church he brought up a great point…20 somethings do not need the church anymore.


I have never thought about that before. But the more I started to process this thought the more I realized that 20 somethings are finding “alternatives” to church buildings and calling their local gatherings, late night porch meetings, and anything else where friend gather, church. It seems that with more and more available content on the web the idea of going to a church building and having “church” is becoming a foreign concept. As well, social justice continues to be a place of service and tithing, and discipleship continues to be felt through books, blogs, and mentoring.

So I ask you…do we need the church?

Is “church” going to look drastically different in 10 years?


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Kyle Reed

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I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville
  • Adam Lehman


    a cool way of organizing church without meeting in a building is over at

  • Graham

    Interesting question Kyle. I’ve often thought about what the church will look like 10 years from now. I agree with you that people our age are finding alternatives to “church”. I love hanging out on a patio with a good drink and good conversation. I like it when the conversation turns to faith.

    I will also be honest here… I tithe to my church. But not the full 10% goes to my church. I give some of it to other social justice organizations such as charity: water and other things I feel are really doing God’s work in the world.

    I don’t know that the church building will ever go away completely… but I do think that there are some very exciting things happening out in the world that young people are doing. Things that are God’s work… perhaps without the person even knowing that God is working through them.

    I will always remember this post ( from @loswhit and it really resonates with me every time I think about what the church will look like 10 years from now. I don’t have an answer… but it’s always on my mind.

    Great post Kyle.

  • Danny Schaffner

    I think the question is fare to ask. I think this issue becomes is life change happening? Is community being fostered a faith that honors God/ Jesus? and Holy Spirit? Is the faith community reproducing disciples?
    In most cases the theory is good, but I find most 20 somethings have substituted a very individualistic and isolated journey at times. Faith community is by their own definition and convenience and not necessarily biblical.
    The localized church has not always been stellar recently. However, the collective difference that some churches are making is why I choose to be a part of a institutional faith community. Both are possible. Utlimately our faith can be stewarded on many fronts. Yes we need the church. Yes we have to check our motives to make sure we are truly being the church and not just smoking a fine cigar and drinking a Heineken or if you’re more in line with Kid Rock – smoking winston and drinkin a 4-0.

  • Jenny

    I don’t know whether to agree or disagree with you. I think the model of the four walled church drastically needs to change, and HAS to start and end outside those walls. But the building? Does it have to be a steeple? If thats what you are asking, then no.

    Church started in the home, it started through gatherings. When we started branching out of that, in our sin and in our pride and started BUILDING massive, and expensive buildings and creating and scripting out services… then we threw a wrench in the church.

    We don’t need a church, we need the CHURCH. We need the Church to be the Church not the Church to be a bunch of buildings with lost people, trying to build up to reach God.

    We need gathering places, and we need to live outside our four walls. Do the four walls serve a purpose, and will they serve a purpose in the future? I am sure of it, but it doesn’t have to be the way It’s been the last 100 years. The walls need to crash down…

  • Danny

    I’m hesitant to leave my thoughts. (Full disclosure, I’m a full time pastor of a church.)

    When this topic comes up there are several thoughts that run through my head. Obviously, as you said, we need the Church. That is without question.

    However, we must be careful not to assume that just because the church has formal buildings that they are inherently bad or not vital. I believe that churches who are being a Church in a community with one central location that can be promoted brings about a load of benefits. Bring along side that the small groups that ARE essential to Christian living and I think we have a very clear picture of what the church was and should be.

    We are quick to assume that simply because Acts states the early church breaking bread in houses that there was a corporate assembling of the believers. I don’t think this is an and/or type of question. Even the early church had a center, a hub of organization, prayer, missionary starting points. You name it. (i.e. Jerusalem and Antioch) Perhaps there was not elaborate buildings from which this hub did is duty, but we can not neglect that fact that even the first church has a “command post” for lack of a better word.

    I’m in that 20 something range. And I hear from people that they don’t need the church they can have Christian living modeled out with their friend in their living room. To which I ask, “How did the Kingdom advance at your last get together.” That same question could be asked to thousands of church buildings every week. The bottom line for me is this, if it’s not advancing the kingdom, it’s futile.

    • Danny

      We are quick to assume that simply because Acts states the early church breaking bread in houses that there wasn’t a corporate assembling of the believers.

      That’s how I meant to type that sentence :)

  • Mindy

    I agree with Jenny that Christians will always need the Church, even if the Church doesn’t necessarily stay in church buildings.

    I’m not sure I agree with the statement that 20-somethings do not need the church. Whether we are talking about a building, home church, or some other form, we need 20-somethings to be involved with the church as they have just as much to contribute as any other age group. A church building is a place for fellowship, which they can admittedly get elsewhere, but it is also a place for service and instruction. Perhaps they can find that elsewhere but if they mainly hang out with other 20-somethings they could be missing the multi-generational wisdom/interaction that comes from being involved in a church.

    I don’t have all the answers, clearly, and this is definitely worth thinking over. I just think it would be incredibly sad to if the church was void of all 20-somethings. There would be an obviously missing link to the family.

  • Laura Anne

    Is it really ‘Do we need the church?’ or should the question be ‘Does the church need us?’

    And the answer to both is yes. It is biblical to be in community – and yes, while we can connect with people virtually, like we’re all doing having this discussion right now, it is never, ever going to be a valid, healthy or biblical replacement for being together in person on a regular basis. To mourn together, to sing praises to God together, to sing hymns, psalms and spiritual songs, to hear teaching together, to lay hands on a person to pray for healing, to mourn together, to celebrate together, to hear from God together.

    I know a whole lot of unhappy Christian 20-somethings. I think there are issues there in the culture we have been brought up and currently live in causing as to be more independent, individualistic and struggling to commit to things long term (relationships, settling down in one town or job for more than a few years). Plus many are used to be sectioned by age – children’s church, then youth programme, then student programme…..and then all of a sudden you’re flung into a whole mix of different ages, life stages and backgrounds….and many of us don’t know how to handle it.

  • bondChristian

    I really like the comments here, especially from Danny Schaffner and Laura Anne:

    “In most cases the theory is good, but I find most 20 somethings have substituted a very individualistic and isolated journey at times. Faith community is by their own definition and convenience and not necessarily biblical.” -Danny Schaffner

    “Is it really ‘Do we need the church?’ or should the question be ‘Does the church need us?’ ” -Laura Anne

    As Laura said, I think the question is wrong (and I don’t mean that at you, Kyle… I think it’s still a good to consider it because we do think about it). It highlights our perspective, that we’re coming to GET something instead of give something. For example, perhaps one of the biggest reasons to show up at a local church each week is to encourage others, or even just the pastor, to continue serving.

    Also, as Danny said, I think more often than not, the people who choose to leave churches aren’t doing it for the right reasons. Most of the time, it’s for the individual path, to connect in their own way, which I don’t see much biblical precedent for.

    That said, in ten years, I could certainly see many moving in that direction. But in many cases, the people who would leave would be the people who were only involved in the first place because of tradition, social life, or otherwise to get something.

    I know that’s a big generalization. Hopefully everyone will prove me completely wrong.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  • Dylan Warner

    I think we twenty-somethings desperately need the church for a few reasons, the most important being mentorship. My church is full of people, ages ranging from 16 to 60, that desire to be discipled by an older man or woman and I don’t see that happening in many living room gatherings of college-age students.
    Danny also posited a great question: “How did the Kingdom advance in your last get-together?” I’m all for a small group meeting weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly to dig into the Word together and hold each other accountable but the focus needs to be outward as well. What is your group doing to advance the Gospel?
    I also find that most small gatherings like this are very like-minded in their theology (which is most frequently reformed). That’s not a bad thing at all but I find that I grow in my faith most when my beliefs are challenged. The challenge pushes me to get into the Word and solidify my faith. While there will always be disagreement on second- and third-order doctrines, you’ve got to get the Gospel right. If the folks in the First Baptist Church of Jimmy’s Front Porch are sharpening each other, that’s awesome.
    I love the conversation that’s going on here! This is definitely a legitimate question and I’m glad people are speaking up!

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