DO MILLENNIALS MAKE BETTER CHRISTIANS?
Let me just put it out there: I think Millennials (and the generation after them) may just make better Christians than all of us pre-Millennial generations.
People love to analyze and complain about Millennials. I hear it at work and at church. If you are a Millennial reading this blog (maybe your Mom passed it along to you), I want you to know that the Gospel message and the Christian life was tailor made for your success.
If you are a non-Millennial, please stick with me while. I think you might just find that we can learn a thing or two from Millennials.
Let’s take a look at the generally-accepted (and often complained about) characteristics of Millennials and contrast that to my generation – the so-called Boomers.
- Millennials want participation trophies.
- Ever hear the term “saved by grace”? Well, salvation is the ULTIMATE participation trophy. Salvation is free, unmerited pardon. It is forgiveness that you did not earn and cannot earn. Millennials, remember when you played T-ball and everybody got a trophy just because they put the uniform on and showed up, even if they never made it to bat? That is salvation to a T. Jesus died for you. There is nothing for you to do but acknowledge and accept it. Salvation is yours. The Father bids you to come on and pick up your trophy.
- Often we Boomers and many other generations struggle with feeling “unworthy” of grace and salvation. I know that seems crazy to you Millennials. Try not to pity us too much.
- Millennials want rewards and recognition for doing what they should do anyway.
- Good news: rewards for doing what you should do – for everything you do, no matter how great or small, is exactly what God offers. You do not have to do spectacular works. Check out Matthew 10:42 [NIV] And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward. You know you shouldn’t lie or steal. There is a reward for not lying and not stealing – in this life and in the next. In fact, hand out cold water to the thirsty and do it in Jesus name and you get a reward. How cool is that?
- Sometimes we Boomers and other older generations spend precious time beating ourselves up about the fact that we cannot do much – even if we cannot do much because we are old, sick or poor – instead of doing what we can do.
- Millennials don’t want to “pay their dues.” When people say this, they mean that Millennials don’t want to do their time in lesser jobs and wait for their turn to be in charge or do the “important” jobs.
- Praise God that Daniel did not feel that way! And didn’t have anyone around telling him he was too young. He and his friends jumped right into making waves and standing out as captives in a strange land. They spoke up (yes, respectfully). There was no religious authority around and no parents around to tell them what to do. So they just went directly to God and He answered them. Millennials, don’t wait your turn. If all you know for sure is that Jesus died for your sins, go ahead and preach it – let people know that everyone gets a trophy just for showing up. The church (that is the body of Christ or ecclesia – not some 401c3) needs you. People living in darkness need to know what you know. Just make sure you do stay connected to God so you can keep growing and will then have more to share.
- Too often, we Boomers, and other older generations let leaders convince us that we are not ready to preach, teach or lead. We let ourselves be convinced that there are books and booklets to read and other hoops to jump through before we can be given permission to preach the Gospel, lead songs, lead prayer or organize service projects. We also have to stay connect to God so we can grow in grace and knowledge. We also need to share what we already know.
- Millennials want to do meaningful work. They want to know that what they are doing matters and makes a difference. They will probably not be content to hand out song books on youth day at church or straighten chairs after the weekly service.
- Praise God that you want to do something more than hand out song books and straighten chairs! The church needs people who are passionate about making a difference in the world. Do you want to preach the Gospel, feed the flock or help the poor? Figure out how you can and go for it. The Bible is full of examples of young people making a difference doing real, meaningful and gutsy things at all sorts of ages. Read about Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and about Esther – they were probably teenagers when God began using them to change the world around them. We have plenty of folks who are willing to hand out song books and straighten chairs at church. If you want to do more. Do more.
- Too many of us non-Millennials have accepted that we are just supposed to pray, pay (tithes/offerings) and live good lives. We are content to sit in a comfy chair each week and do our week-day jobs as good employees. We may get easily exhausted by your passion to make a difference. Try not to let us get in your way.
- Millennials want their opinions to be heard. They don’t accept the status quo.
- Go ahead and speak up. We need people who question everything. We need those who will incessantly ask why. It keeps us on our toes. We are all supposed to be able to answer for “the hope that lies within” us. How much more should we answer for routines and rituals we have let achieve a level of protection we should reserve for actual doctrine. We need people who push us to get out of our ruts. We need new ideas. The churches are dying or, to put it more kindly, aging out of existence. We cannot keep doing what we have been doing and expect different results. Speak up. Give ideas. Question everything.
- Too often we non-Millennials are timid about sharing ideas or changing the way we have always done something. We’ve become resistant to change. This happened because we waited our turns and now you Millennials are nipping at our heals and, still, the even older folks have yet to relinquish their vice grip on organizations and their rituals. Try to be patient as we work our way through the fact that we waited too long for a place at the table. That is on us.
Let me recap what we can learn from Millennials:
- Salvation is yours. Get excited about and thankful for that participation trophy. It is yours for just showing up.
- Do something, anything. Use whatever resources you have – even if all you have to give is a cup of cold water.
- Share what you know now. Don’t wait to know everything.
- Don’t wait your turn behind old geezers (or geezers who are older than you) who don’t want to turn the reigns over to you or you may die waiting in line. If there isn’t a job for you, create one.
- Shred traditions. First, know the difference between law and tradition. (Ex. Three songs, sermonette, song, announcements, sermon, song is a tradition. The 10 commandments are law.) Then, be willing to mix it up. Sing 10 songs. Sit in a circle and talk heart to heart instead of any formal church. It might feel uncomfortable at first. Maybe you will never like it. But maybe, just maybe, it will be an opportunity for Millennials to see that we care about their ideas. Then, when they understand that we really do care, perhaps they will listen to what we have learned in our journeys.
I’d like to personally thank the Millennials for these lessons. Talk to me about your ideas. What do you want to do to make a difference in the world around you?
Non-Millennials, I’d love to hear your thoughts too. Write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.