But two issues stand apart from the others. The first is unsurprising: LGBT acceptance. "I grew up being told that people chose to be gay and that it was a sin," Evans said. Over time, her views changed to match those of many of her Millennial peers—in 2014, two-thirds of Americans born after 1981 said they supported gay marriage. "If you’re turning away gay people, we’re going to see through the hip B.S.," Evans said.
This is not true of every church in America, of course. In March, the Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A. voted to allow gay marriages, and organizing bodies of the United Church of Christ and the Evangelical Lutheran Church had previously decided the same. But overwhelmingly, Christian denominations do not allow same-sex marriages in their churches, and some preach a strong theology against homosexuality: the Baptists, the Catholics, the Mormons, the Methodists. In her book, Evans describes attending a conference of the Gay Christian Network, many of whom were evangelicals who had left or been asked to leave their churches. "'I remember the first time I was called a ... homophobic word,' said a young woman, no more than twenty, who wore a flower in her hair and kept her eyes on her shoes. ... 'It was at a church.'" This, Evans said, is the issue that will define the church experience of many young Christians.
The other major theme that emerges from her book is a little more surprising, although it probably shouldn't be: sin. "A lot of liberal, progressive people are afraid of the word sin," she said in an interview. To some, the idea of a flawed human nature which leads to transgressions against God might be the same category as exorcisms—part of the "bizarre truth of Christian identity," as Evans puts it.
But even for regular church-goers, she said, sin may not be something many readily embrace. "Why do we mumble through rote confessions and then conjure plastic Barbie and Ken smiles as we turn to one another to pass the peace?" she writes. "What makes us exchange the regular pleasantries—'I'm fine! How are you?'—while mingling beneath a cross upon which hangs a beaten, nearly naked man, suffering publicly on our behalf?"
Some of this is cultural, she said—the idea, particularly in the ever-hospitable, perfectly polished South, that you should "bring your best self to church." But "even in faith communities that aren’t Southern, there can still be that pressure to perform, and be Instagram-y, and not be honest and talk about your sin," she said.
That's why upbeat music and stylish services don't do it for Evans: Hers is a Christianity that is fully aware of darkness. "So much of what Christianity produces as far as books and literature and even music in our worship—it’s all very rosy, when that’s not really life, and that’s not really church," she said. "We carry the weight of many, many centuries of injustice, and that matters, and we can’t just ignore that."