Kim Walker-Smith, the longtime Jesus Culture frontwoman, says Christians leaders must be more transparent from the pulpit because members, especially millennials and Gen Z, don't want to be preached to by a minister who's covering up a sin that later becomes public.
"One of the most powerful things we can do is continue to live a life of transparency, because I think that millennials and the younger generation are pretty tired of being preached at from a pulpit and then suddenly it's all out on the news that someone had some sort of dark sin in their closet or something comes out and you find out that it wasn't real," Walker-Smith told CP in a recent interview.
The mother of three made a similar comment about the #MeToo movement and Hollywood, saying that people are no longer tolerating those in power hiding their evil deeds.
"When you're able to hide behind a platform, you think that you're untouchable and that you can hide your mess," Walker-Smith said. "I just think that's not what they need or they want."
The psalmist, who's a millennial herself, went on to share what she thinks leaders in ministry can do to keep young people from leaving the church and their faith.
"They need to be able to see that transparency of a life that is redeemed by Jesus. They need to see the redemption story, not just 'Here I am in my mess or the mistakes I have made.' But also, 'Here is the redeeming, transforming power of Jesus in my life,'" she explained.
When asked what she thought about a statistic shared with The Christian Post by Campus Crusade for Christ which claims that 85 percent of millennials in the U.S. consider themselves "non-Christian," Walker-Smith said young people are just fed-up with falsehood in the church.
A 2016 study by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 39 percent of Americans aged 18–29 did not belong to a church, even though many of them had a Christian upbringing. Generation Z, the population born at and after the start of the 21st century, are also noted for their increasing disbelief in organized religion.
The Barna Group released a separate report in January which found that 35 percent of teenagers identify as atheist, agnostic, or religiously unaffiliated, an even higher percentage than millennials.
While on tour, Walker-Smith — who released a live EP with selections from her 2017 hit solo album, On My Side — often shares of her own struggles while ministering before thousands and leading them into worship.
"I like to say, 'I'm a work in progress.' I'm not perfect and I would never try and make someone think that I have figured it all out or that I'm now perfect," she maintained. "It's not a one-time deal when you're surrendered to Jesus. You are constantly being transformed and changed and in the process of becoming a better person yourself, and I think that's what they need to see. They need to see the struggle and the pain, the wrestling through your faith."
Walker-Smith admitted that she gets "irritated" when people in the church don't want to talk about their faith struggles. The singer has not shied away from discussing her troubles after the recent loss of her father and suffering from postpartum depression.
"I went through a time after my dad died where I was wrestling," the Oregon native shared. "I wasn't saying that I don't believe in God anymore but I was questioning the songs I was singing, 'Do I believe that He heals? Do I believe that He's still good?'
"And that's what the younger generations need; they need leaders who will be transparent about the hardships the struggle and the wrestle but who will also lead the way in the redemption and the transformation. [Leaders] who say, 'This is what it looks like to wrestle with God through these things and come out on the other side with Him and your relationship intact.'"
Four years ago, Jesus Culture planted a church in Sacramento, California, led by Pastor Banning Liebscher who Walker-Smith says does a great job of being transparent with the congregation.
Walker-Smith is gearing up to embark on the On My Side tour starting on July 19 and then the release of a new Jesus Culture album in the fall with an October tour to follow.