20+ event will challenge youth secularity

The event is part of an effort to make church more fun for those who don’t enjoy it.

Anant Naik

The Pantages Theater will hold an event called 20+ on Monday night. The event is part of a broader movement across America called Hillsong, which encourages young adults to rejoin the church and celebrate the message of Christianity.

Hillsong started as a response to a general withdrawal of young adults from Christianity.

Kirk Graham, a pastor at the River Valley Church in Eagan, described this best in an interview with me in which he said, “The Gospel message isn’t tired. People are tired of a tired presentation of this message.”

He elaborated that many youth see church as an unexciting place. That’s a belief Hillsong is attempting to break.

In Minnesota alone, the numbers reveal that this movement is growing. Two years ago, when the 20+ event was introduced to the Twin Cities, about 300 people attended, according to Graham.

This year’s event hopes to host more than 1,500 young adults.

One way this movement differs from traditional church services is that it refrains from holding worship in a typical setting. Instead, the movement holds its services in areas like clubs and theaters with loud rock and pop-like music, environments that seem more inviting to young adults. A recent Pew Research Center poll showed that more than 30 percent of youth in America don’t associate with any religion. 

The Hillsong Church and the Twin Cities 20+ movement attack many sociologists’ conception that youth today are becoming more secular.

This secularization might not just be due to how churches present the message of Christianity, but rather because many of the faith’s core messages don’t always align with everyone’s personal stances on controversial social issues.

Many people question the role of Christianity in their lives because they believe that the Bible hasn’t answered questions about homosexuality and other important issues. This isn’t to say, of course, that many churches haven’t begun to change their stance on things such as gay marriage, but the long-held perception of Christian conservatism will take more time to adjust.

Graham made it clear that the objective of the 20+ movement wasn’t to take any direct stances on controversial issues.

“You don’t have to believe what we believe to belong. We want [people] to come and just experience it, and we want them to feel welcome,” he said.

Many people who find value in spirituality but not in the specifics of their organized religion, tend to explore other, more accepting outlets for practicing religion. The 20+ and Hillsong movements are attempting to bring the openness of spirituality and the word of the Bible together to attract youth who may be disillusioned with their current church.

This event is a testament to the benefits of moving toward inclusiveness in which a person’s political views do not necessarily preclude them from worshipping. In an age when young people seem to be moving toward secularity, only time can tell if Hillsong Church will succeed with its vision.