I was thrilled to read the article that one of our younger church leaders, Justine Fisler, submitted in our spring newsletter titled: The Millennial Perspective! I remember thinking, “Yes, this is exactly the perspective our church and I need to hear.”
As a church pastor and parent of two millennial daughters, I recognize some growth areas that our church and I need to be more attentive to regarding this often overlooked generation. I say “overlooked” because we make some very unfair assumptions that prevent us from extending the extravagant welcome many of us strive for in the life of our churches and, personally in my life.
As Justine and my daughters have pointed out on numerous occasions (and I agree), millennials are unfairly labeled as self-centered, uncaring, lazy, and Godless. Regarding these three young women in particular, that label doesn’t come close to accurately describing them! My experience with these women, and many young women and men I know in their age group, gives me great hope for the future of the church, and frankly – humanity!!
These young adults care far more than we give them credit for, but they refuse to “play the game” by the rules of previous generations. They detest the exclusivity, double-standards, and lack of integrity they have observed in government, business, and in their churches. I think many of us, in my generation, and certainly older generations, have many fears about millennials that need to be addressed. I won’t expound upon these fears at this time, but this is certainly a topic for future conversations.
I do believe our fears and misunderstandings lead us to overlook a very bright, resourceful, and powerful group that could greatly enhance our efforts to “Be the Church of Jesus Christ,” and it’s time that we begin having conversations that will help us understand their hopes, dreams, desires, and expectations. They have a very different viewpoint and a very different way of communicating than all previous generations. They have a different perspective of everything, especially God and spirituality; and, frankly they have lower patience levels and tolerance for the “B.S.” of the mainline Protestant churches as most still function today. Yes, I said it!
So what are we doing about it in our church? First, we are transitioning from hierarchical governance to a team approach, because we recognize that younger generations are more likely to engage in a system that welcomes and invites their input. We also encourage senior members to be less possessive and territorial about the areas of church, methods, practices, etc. that discourage younger members from participating. Additionally, we are also developing mission opportunities that appeal to the interest of our younger members but honestly, this is still in the planning stage. We are avoiding trend-chasing, but carefully looking at ways to engage a younger generation in worship; and, we are intentional about creating opportunities in worship for them to sing, play music, read, and testify (yes, testify!). And, we’re embracing technology in all age groups!
We, the senior leadership of the church, can continue to assume what will work in appealing to younger generations. Or, we can ask them what they want, and need, and hear what their frustrations and desires are. What interests them; what makes them tick; who/ what is God to them? What is their understanding of Jesus Christ and what questions/ roadblocks do they have in growing their faith.
Knowing these questions exist led to my excitement about Justine’s interest in writing from The Millennial Perspective. There was no feedback from the congregation regarding Justine’s first article. It was well written and thought provoking; so, I need to ask, “Why no feedback?” That’s easy – it’s the same reason I get limited feedback from my newsletter articles – it’s because the opportunity to provide feedback has not yet been extended!
So, now the time has come to create space for conversations. It’s exciting to imagine what activities, additions, and yes, changes might be given birth. What doors might open when we hear from this often undervalued and neglected generation of people who bring knowledge, passion, technology, thoughtfulness, and far more care and compassion than we give them credit for? Let’s hear what they have to say. And, let’s do something about it!
Perhaps, somewhat like Job seeing the Lord, after hearing about (and from) millennials we might come to see them. Members of this amazing millennial generation have much to teach us and much to share in our planning for and praying for the blessings God has in store for us. We don’t need to repent in dust and ashes, like Job, but we do need to hear how God is speaking through those who have fallen below the church radar.
I look forward to reading Justine’s next article; and articles from her peers. I am eager to begin having the conversations that will help us bring a bit more heaven to earth with a powerful force of millennials energizing our emerging vision!
We invite users of this website to post comments in response to posts published here. In order to maintain a respectful community, we insist that comments be polite, respectful and tolerant of opposing viewpoints. We reserve the right to remove comments that are hostile, hateful or abusive to others, or that constitute personal attacks. In the interest of transparency, we highly recommend that users comment using their full names. For those who feel a need for more anonymity, however, we will allow posts using first names and last initial.