**This blog was published in the Magnolia Messenger.** www.magnoliamessengermag.com
It’s a common joke among older people: “What’s up with these millennials?” We’ve always had generational conflicts in the church, but it seems to me that contentions are increasing in this current age. Maybe I’m just sensitive to this issue after 25+ working with young church leaders, but I recognize that tensions are unusually high. So, I did a little reconnaissance.
During the month of January, I ask some of our older brethren to define millennials (1981-1996) with one word. The responses I received included lazy, entitled, ignorant, liberal, brainwashed, free-spirited, and immature. Do those terms fit with millennials that you know? Is this assessment unfair? Why do we see animosity between the young and old? Is there anything we could do to resolve these generational conflicts? Could there be some bridging of the gap? All good questions.
After doing a little research, and pushing past the negative rhetoric, I have concluded that maybe we are misrepresenting Christian millennials. It is possible that the millennials are not poised to ruin the church, but to revive it. They may be simply approaching the Christian culture from a different perspective. As millennials currently outnumber the Baby Boomers, it is time we began to consider the impact they might have on the future of the church. Let’s consider some positive things that might help us to see the benefits to their influence on the church and culture.
Millennials are relationship oriented and community focused. They tend to focus on unity, harmony, and personal identity. The New Testament church had the same distinctive mission. In the midst of a crooked generation they believed in prayer, Bible study, worship, fellowship, vision, and personal devotion (Acts 2:40-47). Millennials tend to grow relationships free from racism, pandering, prejudice and hypocrisy. They prefer genuineness. They engage in missions, ministry, and service projects because they want to help the less fortunate. They genuinely care for the people in their community. They see people, not numbers. Church leaders should take note of this asset.
Millennials are technology minded. Never in the history of humankind has a generation been so equipped to fulfill the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16). The world is literally at their fingertips. This is a generation of social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, YouTube, TikTok and a hundred other outlets for spreading Christianity. In the past, the church faced language barriers and financial burdens to establish missions and preach the gospel. Those obstacles are almost of no effect to millennials. The internet has opened many doors.
Millennials are naturally inquisitive. Millennials have a checklist of almost relentless questions. Instead of thinking of this as an “arrogant” group, see them as driven and curious. The Bereans searched the Scriptures daily to challenge the apostle Paul and themselves (Acts 17:11). Let them ask questions. If you provide an adequate answer (or defense), they will be more inclined to receive it (I Peter 3:15). Many millennials enjoy personal devotion. They also love small groups where they can gather and discuss the fruit of their study. This is another asset to church growth.
Millennials are inherently optimistic. Building on the previous thought, when you combine an inquisitive nature with buckets of self-esteem you will have a truly hopeful generation. Millennials love a comeback story. They root for the underdog. They look beyond failure. They are adventurous, bold, and unafraid of standing up for their beliefs. They possess the attitude necessary to wear the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10). They embrace spiritual warfare and shine their light.
Millennials are not impressed with large buildings, massive events, or cookie cutter programs. They are seeking authentic Christianity and servant-driven churches. What a revolutionary idea! Imagine what the church could accomplish with a generation of biblically sound, genuine, fearless, and tech savvy Christians. We may be witnessing the groundwork for a remarkable revival in the years ahead. We shouldn’t fear the millennial Christians, we should mentor them, and encourage them to take the lead. Great things are on the horizon!
You are loved.
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