Leave your big hat on the shelf. No suit or tie required. Where we are going is nothing like the pictures of “old school church” you see posted for throw-back Thursday. This is the new day of the millennials. These worshippers don’t “church” like Baby Boomers and Generation X. So, they need us to move on over and make some room!
The millennial demographic is composed of those who have reached young adulthood around the year 2000. Also known as Generation Y, the 9/11 Generation, or Echo boomers, they are considered America’s next great generation. They present a sharp contrast to their predecessors. According to Dr. Jill Novak, millennials tend to:
- Schedule everything.
- Feel enormous academic pressure.
- Prefer digital literacy. They are digital natives. They get their information and most of their socialization from the Internet.
- They do not live to work but rather, work to sustain livable conditions and enjoyment.
- With unlimited access to information, they tend to be assertive with strong views.
- They want fast, immediate processing.
This generation clearly has distinct characteristics and needs. How to serve them in ministry is a bit more complicated.
Since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, why do we need to develop innovative ways to share the Gospel Message?
The Barna Group conducted a study on the importance of church. They asked participants what helped them grow their faith. Prayer, family, friends, or reading the Bible were the most frequent responses. Church as a place to gather and grow your faith did not even make it to the top ten! These findings are dually surprising and disheartening considering America has always touted the Church as one of its core values.
Less than four out of ten millennials pray with others, attend church, or read the Bible. Indeed, we are in a quandary. Faced with multi-layered issues to address and resolve for our compeers.
There are two subgroups:
- The “churched.” Many millennials have no desire to mirror the traditional experiences of their parents and grandparents.
- The “unchurched.” According to a Pew Research Center report, “nearly 30% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 33 say they are not affiliated with any religion.”
Both of these subgroups are “under-churched” populations. Herein lies the dilemma: we must seek to create experiences that facilitate a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As believers, we have the power (by the Holy Spirit) and authority (through His Word) to cause a swap out for the negative experiences created by the religiosity of others.
5 Reasons Young People Are Indifferent or Outright Antagonistic Toward Religion:
- Technology. Social media outlets provide a variety of options. DIY religion can be created with little effort.
- The Millennial Way of Life. Bombarded with so many “truths” and options; the Way gets convoluted with everything other than the Word of Truth.
- Semantics. The term religion is erroneously used as a synonym for relationship.
- Consumer Culture. They are adverse to the performance-driven commercial consumer model in which many churches operate.
- Merging of Church and Politics. Churches are postured as political bedfellows instead of Kingdom Ambassadors promoting God’s agenda.
What proactive measures can we take to remain serviceable and relevant? The following are five things young adults are looking for in their search for God and a physical place of worship.
- Communicates a clear message.
- A place of action.
- Is this church being Jesus?
- Does the church provide mentors?
The millennials have realistic expectations. We, the Ecclesia, are bound in love to be authentic, pristine in purpose with actions to match the Gospel Message of Christ. Operating in integrity creates an atmosphere of trust, koinónia, and provides opportunities to mentor new believers.
This is the Generation
Regardless of what category a thirty-something falls under, both groups have one thing in common:
This is the generation that seek Him. (Psalm 24:6)
We are left with the burden to portray a true image of Christ. Amidst ever-changing trends, ideologies, and self-formed philosophies; Christ’s love, sacrifice and suffering for us remains constant. How we gather is influenced by the needs of our current populations.
Jesus often spoke in parables relative to the agricultural experiences of his audiences. By modeling His example, we can communicate the Gospel message with the same relatable connect for this generation. We have the tools to refocus our lenses and adapt new methods to reach the churched and unchurched. The Millennials are here. Move over and make some room.