Russell David Hobbs, owner of Dallas’ The Door – which averages about 1000 people each night – sees the same type of kids. Texas native Heather Owens,17, whose favorite form of self and spiritual expression is larger than life tattoos and at least 20 rings or studs randomly placed on her 5-foot-1-inch frame, has just recently found a place where she can worship God and feel like a “normal human being instead of an outcast.”
Owens frequents The Door and is involved in what she calls a “very untraditional” church that meets on Thursday nights in a house where tattoos, navel rings, and tongue studs, chains and greeen hair abound.
“I grew up going to legalistic churches that a left a bad taste in my mouth,” she says. “I tried a few other churches, but I always got the looks, and noone ever bothered to talk to me. it’s funy – I just don’t think Jesus would even want to go to churches like that.
Where Would Jesus Worship?
While lack of acceptance seems to be the No. 1 factor keeping these kids from darkening church doors, a perceived absence of substance and authenticity in churches or church leaders runs a close second. According to [Barna], this group of young people sense hypocrisy, not authenticiy, in the established church community.
Hobbs, of The Door, agrees. “These kids are smart,” he says. “They’ve seen the counterfeit too many times. Kids see right through these leaders and their motivations. They look around for Jesus and can’t find Him.”
Hobbs knows the story well.
“I was that searching kid. I didn’t get saved in church,” he recalls. “My janitor preached to me when I was running a secular club. After that, I started preaching to everyone and went to church because that’s what you do when you find Jesus. I tried to fit in, but everything I was reading in my Bible didn’t jive with the fakeness I was seeing at church.”