By Jake Dell

Is Generation Z destined to restore the mainline Protestant church to biblical faithfulness?

Many of them think so, thanks to one Redeemed Zoomer, a popular YouTube personality with over 115,000 followers.

Redeemed Zoomer is the YouTube handle (@redeemedzoomer6053) for a “a regular gen Z (zoomer) who was raised in a very secular progressive culture.” He writes, “I am a Presbyterian, part of the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church USA), but I completely oppose the theological liberalism and progressivism that has hijacked it. I have made it my mission to restore it.”


One of the things that sets Redeemed Zoomer apart is his penchant for performing theologically sophisticated monologues, often while playing Minecraft. He has a YouTube following of over 115K subscribers who are rallying to his idea to “take back” the mainline churches. It’s called “Operation Reconquista.” He has also sent his take on the 95 Theses to every PCUSA church in the country.

I recently spoke with Redeemed Zoomer (by Zoom) and agreed to become a sort of Gen X chaplain-adviser to the Discord server (with over 1,000 members, mostly under 30) that he’s set up.

There, he has organized Gen Zs from the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and a few others, including the Anglican Church of Canada and the Church of England.

Redeemed Zoomer has partnered with The Fellowship Community, and from what he told me that community has adopted “reconquista” as a strategy. According to its website, The Fellowship Community seeks to “reclaim a covenanted biblical community” within the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Since I am an Episcopal priest, Redeemed Zoomer put me in the #Episcopal chat on his Discord server. There, I’ve encountered an earnest and theologically sophisticated group of Gen Zs ranging in age from 15 to 29, which probably makes the older among them younger Millennials.

One of them posted recently:

I am 24, so Gen Z, and was recently confirmed into the Church. The only people who I believe will be left in TEC [The Episcopal Church] in the coming decades will be a few of us willing to take charge. There won’t be many, but they will likely be traditional, since the Episcopal Church is unable to keep young people despite being so progressive. If we do the reconquista right, we can turn it back and grow it in the proper direction again.

The Episcopal group on Discord has undertaken to follow Redeemed Zoomer’s lead and is working on its own version of “95 Theses” for the Episcopal Church. The group calls itself Episcopal Fellowship for Renewal.

Plague and revival go together and Gen Z has already experienced both. The Asbury Revival went viral via TikTok, which became Gen Z’s go-to for connection during the lockdowns. Thus, one way to interpret what’s happening here is to frame it in terms of the pandemic: “A generation stamped by COVID takes on church reform.”

But I think the bigger story here is Boomers refusing to see the reality of their five-decade failure to safeguard “the faith once delivered,” and the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the mainline denominations they inherited. Significant resentment is directed at them from Millennials and Gen Z. We have all seen the “OK Boomer,” “BoomerCon,” and “Die Boomer” memes.

As a Gen Xer, I have often wondered what the point of my generation was. Too young to be Boomers, we grew up on their cultural hand-me-downs: The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island reruns. (Star Wars and Indiana Jones definitely belong to us, however.) But a generation that knows how to dial a rotary phone may be just the bridge these Gen Z exiles need to help them return to their ancestral churches.

Perhaps we can play the part of Ezra, since we remember something of what the Church is supposed to be like, to these latter-day Nehemiahs who have come to rebuild.

Thus, I offer to Gen Z my how-to guide for restoring faithfulness to mainline churches — according to the whole of catholic faith and witness — based on 30 years of trying to do just that. Consider it an inheritance from this Gen Xer. It comes with my prayers for their success.

Three things to know

    1. It’s hard. You’ll feel sidelined and alone. You’ll wonder why you’re doing it. You’ll often think of those who have left to join or start other denominations and you’ll wonder if you should too.
    2. There are things you can’t say. It’s true your witness is compromised. You’re in the minority and you need to know your place. You won’t be sought out for preferment. There is no inside track for you. The important committees and big churches are (for the most part) off-limits to you.
    3. These are the people you need to reach. You wear the mantle of the prophet. This term has been overused by the charismatics, and to most people it means “predicting the future,” but the Protestant reformers knew it meant a bold and faithful witness to the Scriptures, spoken to a dying world that needs to hear them. If you’re looking for a mission field, look no further than your own church.

Five steps you can take

  1. Find friends. There are more of you than you realize. For instance, in the Anglican/Episcopal tradition there are groups like EFAC-USA (I serve on its board), Communion Partners, and The Prayer Book Society. Get on their mailing lists. Ask them if there are any members near you. Call them and meet them for lunch. I did this and drove two hours to visit a minister in Connecticut. He was so glad to realize that he wasn’t alone. Eventually we discovered another fellow up in Massachusetts.
  2. Don’t leave. This is what reformation looks like. You really don’t have any other choice, because even if you do leave, you’ll find the problems follow you. Jack Waters at The North American Anglican talks about this in his recent post, “Anglicans Shouldn’t Be Building New Colleges.” Speaking of the Anglican Church in North America, he writes, “more of [Episcopal culture]  has been inherited than first meets the eye.”
  3. Enlarge your place. If everyone is welcome, then welcome me and people like me. If you’re in the mainline church, then your side has lost and lost definitively — for the moment. However, in the Episcopal Church we’ve been told by the House of Bishops (one half of the highest authority in our denomination, General Convention) that “[the Communion Partners] are an indispensable part of who we are … Our church needs their witness.”

When I was under fire in my congregation for holding to a traditional definition of marriage, my bishop, Andrew Dietsche, wrote to my wardens and vestry and told them that I represented a “venerable tradition” in the Episcopal Church. Chances are you can find similar statements in your denomination, even if it’s just something as banal as “Everyone is welcome,” or “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” Well, okay then. Welcome me. Open your hearts and minds to the gospel. If you’re following Step #1, by now you might have enough new friends so that you can start enlarging your place.

  1. Find your voice. This can be scary, given the threat of being canceled. I’m still scared, even though I’ve survived. The fact is that reformation requires risk, but faith makes us bold. How this looks will be different for different people. Maybe you just need to raise your voice at a vestry or session meeting. Maybe you need to ask questions of candidates for church office. Maybe you should join that search committee that’s calling the next pastor.

Do not discount how important your smaller witness is to those called to make a bigger witness. When I was facing opposition, I was very discouraged. I was talking to my son about it and asked him why he hadn’t joined a local church. He said none of them were “biblical” or “orthodox” enough. I said, “First, that sounds like you’re making an excuse. Second, a church doesn’t have to be perfect for you to join it. Do you realize how encouraged a minister like me would be to have a young person like you join his church and give him your support?”

  1. Don’t argue. Witness instead. I like to debate. I like to win debates. But we’re not called to debate or dispute the gospel. We are called to proclaim it. I find that the most powerful witness is simply to open the Bible and read it out loud to someone who needs to hear it. For instance, instead of arguing over transgenderism, just read Genesis 1 and 2 out loud. Instead of arguing about same-sex sexual relationships, just read Leviticus 18 and Romans 1 out loud. Now, if you do that, you’ll immediately be attacked and you’ll naturally want to respond in kind. Don’t go there.

Your witness is to whole faith, not a late modern reduction of it. Have they grappled with these passages as well? Of course they have, but not kata holis, according to the whole. What has the Church everywhere and at all times believed? That’s the high ground. Hold it.

Conviction that results in either their condemnation or repentance is not up to you. Understand that God has ordained this encounter from before the world began, and that you, in this moment, are his chosen speaker. This has nothing to do with you. There is power in the Word of God, so get out of the way. Now, later on, if someone comes back to you with a teachable heart, then you can begin to answer their questions, and you’ll make progress.

The problem is that many of us want to start with reasoned explanations. But those will never work on hardened hearts. The Word itself does. Your first task is to read it out loud. The only question you should be answering at this point is, “Do I believe this?” And you reply, “Yes, I do.” There, you’ve done it. You’ve been a witness to the truth.

The Rev. Jake Dell is priest in charge at St. Peter’s Lithgow in the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

9 Responses

  1. Daniel Muth

    This is a good and hopeful article. As one only slightly older (a tail-end Boomer) who carried on the fight within TEC for a painfully long time, I’d suggest seeking out friendships with Anglicans outside of TEC. Much of the effort discussed in this space regarding rapprochement between TEC and ACNA (and the rest of the continuing Anglican alphabet soup) focuses, I believe, at the wrong level. Reconciliation isn’t going to take place at any official level any time soon – too much damage has been done.

    Individual orthodox Anglicans still in TEC can still gain perspective and support – and (probably more importantly) offer encouragement to non-TEC Anglicans by building friendships across the institutional divide. I wouldn’t try splitting time between a TEC and non-TEC parishes – though attendance at an occasional mass is fine – pick a parish and get involved. But if you’re in TEC, maybe sit in on the men’s group or a weeknight study at the local ACNA or whatever parish and start building friendships.

    One of the biggest problems with the TEC / ACNA & Co. divide (at least amongst traditional believers) is the tendency on both sides to look down on those who either left precipitously or stayed beyond all reason, depending on where you are. TEC suffered a complete failure of leadership. There was no right response to make. The schismatic vs. heretic blame game availeth nothing. When talking amongst ourselves, we should avoid either term.

    Individual results may vary, but generally, I believe traditional believers still in TEC can bridge an important gap while at the same time finding support in their long, lonely struggle by reaching out as individuals to non-TEC Anglicans in their area.

    • Jake Dell

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment on my article. I have found what you say to be true in spades. That is one reason I serve on the board of EFAC-USA (, which has both TEC and ACNA board members.

      Through EFAC-USA, especially by attending its annual conferences, I’ve widened my network in TEC, started one in the ACNA, and even now have friends in the United Episcopal Church of North America.

    • C R SEITZ

      It will be interesting to see if consents are given for the next Bishops in TN and Dallas. We know what happened in FL. CFL was able to get consents (my sense is there is less internal division inside CFL than FL).

      I say this because the ‘conservative presence’ in TEC has been assisted in part by the few remaining ‘conservative’ Bishops. This could shift entirely to the local parish level (not unlike the anglo-catholic network of the pre 1979 BCP period).

      One thing that is beyond dispute: the progressive TEC is in freefall when it comes to attendance figures, baptisms, marriages, confirmations. It is becoming a kind of fringe or boutique church on the landscape of the US.

      • Daniel Muth

        No dispute here, Dr. Seitz. There was some hope after the last time TEC changed out PBs that their reigning eminences would be a smidge more accommodating of traditional Christianity. Maybe there’s still some hope, but the signs are not good at the moment. One thing should be crystal clear by now: embracing progressivism does absolutely nothing to save Christian churches from demographics. The ideology should only be embraced as a matter of sincere belief (albeit not one I can support) and not any hope that it will stave off decline.

      • Donna Wessel Walker

        I am dismayed by the choice of reconquista as the name for this movement. Really, you choose as your model a campaign of warfare, massacres and pogroms that ended with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492? I find that choice frankly appalling. But given that, it is not surprising to find no word of love here, no grace for those who suffer, no empathy for the experience of the other. Many in the TEC have indeed struggled honestly and deeply with the Scriptures (including those you cite) and with the commandment to love one another, and have come quite sincerely to believe in the positions you dismiss as an attempt to be hip. It is a pity that you have given up on engagement with people you disagree with as well as with those whose experience you ignore or disparage.

  2. Ephemera, 07/27/23 – Human Thoughts

    […] This starts out interesting and ends in complete and total absurdity. Yes: stop whining on your Discord server, go to your local parish, and say, “If everyone is welcome, then welcome me and people like me.” Uh, no: don’t chase people out of the parish and onto the sidewalk while screaming, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” […]

  3. Jake Dell

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply to my article. I agree with you fully. It’s one reason I serve on the board of EFAC-USA ( It’s one of the few organizations with membership from different Anglican jurisdictions. There, I have found broader fellowship within TEC and the ACC, fellowship with members of the ACNA, and even fellowship with members of older branches in the continuum, like the Reformed Episcopal Church and the United Episcopal Church.

  4. C R SEITZ

    Dear Daniel, I know you know. Lots of hard work.

    I named ‘Windsor Bishops’ as well as ‘Communion Partners.’ Gave 15 years of my life and then surrendered the church to its Head. We moved to France and worshipped in the Catholic Church there.

    It is good that this author is pressing on. I do think ‘conservatism’ at the parish level will become something like the tolerated AC parishes of my youth. And unlike them, they are probably better payers of assessments.

    I also agree that TEC conservatives — depending on location — ought to sound out other anglicans, and other ecumenical partners.

    I think the GSFA could be a way for people to have a ‘lapel pin’ and identify with GSFA.

    Having served in the CofE (where I have a PTO), their dilemma is only now coming to a head. +Welby has seemed to see the need for creative global thinking.

    Grace and Peace.

  5. The Rev. Robert F. Solon

    I am dismayed at this editorial – for that is what it is – for several reasons. First, I thought Covenant was about “waiting for each other. “ This post is explicitly about reconquering. It advocates spiritual violence. How is that of Christ? It doesn’t belong in Covenant. Second, the biblical illiteracy advocated is breathtaking and disingenuous. The passages cited cannot be understood as the author asserts without deep damage to the very text itself. Third, the author displays no sensitivity to pastoral concerns at all. His coldness to the lived and displayed reality of GLBTQ+ Christians is deeply fraught. Fourth: TEC has made its decisions. Yes we’re striving to include or at least accept all views. But to suggest that “reconquering” is what is needed is deeply ignoring of the deep work around LGBTQ+ issues that even the Archbishop of Canterbury has recognized.

    I repeat, this is not a Christian pov.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.