Ecclesiastes 12:1 “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”
It seems to be a common response among the older generation to question the tactics and methods of the generation called the “millennials”. This generation was born between 1981-1996 and has also been called generation Y. The subsequent generation referred to gen-Z were the individuals born between 1997-2012. I find it interesting that this recent generation would be labeled with a letter that designates it as the final generation. With all that is happening in our world and all that signifies we are living in, for me this is just one more element that points to Christ’s imminent return.
Psalm 144:12 “May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace”
There are some unique attributes to the millennial generation.
Compared to older generations at the same relative time in young adult life, millennials have attained higher levels of education, which, for their generation more than others, is tied to higher future earnings and well-being. More than a third of all millennials ages 25-34 achieved college educations by 2015, up from less than 30 percent for comparably aged young adults in 2000 and not quite a quarter for those in 1980.
Millennials are by far the most diverse generation when compared to older generations. The large waves of immigration to the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s, especially from Latin America and Asia, coupled with the aging of the white population, made millennials a more racially and ethnically diverse generation than any that preceded it.
Millennials are slower than earlier generations to get married, have children, and leave their parents’ homes. The median age of marriage was lowest during the 1950s—at age 20 for women and 22 for men. By 2015, these rose to ages 27 and 29, respectively.
While the economy and employment have climbed back from the worst of the recession and post-recession years, as late as 2015, millennials were more likely to be in poverty than most baby boomers and Gen Xers at similar ages.
Approximately 10,000 Millennials turn 21 everyday in America. The Millennials are the largest generation on our planet. As the Baby Boomers taught us, the larger the generation, the greater the influence over norms, expectations and behavior. With the Millennials comes mega change…
By 2025, 3 out of every 4 workers globally will be Millennials.
Proverbs 4:20-22 “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.”
An article written in 2015 by Gabrielle Jackson details some thoughts on how millennials are perceived:
“Millennials have earned the reputation of being entitled, lazy, unmotivated, and technology addicted. Business owners try to keep us around, but we move jobs every few years. Pastors try to get us to Sunday service, but we want it on our iPhones. Parents are confused about how to motivate us to grow up and get a real job.”
She went on to say “We don’t want to be put in a box and categorized as “single,” “student,” “married,” “married with young children” or whatever other small group label you create. It’s no mystery that the Church is facing a millennial crisis. According to Barna, six out of 10 in this generation walk away from their faith, despite a majority being raised in religious households. Millennials have been raised in the post-Christian era. Religious pluralism is everywhere: Declaring that there is only one way to God is considered hate speech. Pastors shouldn’t be discouraged, though. Millennials have the same faith capacity as other generations. They just have their own hurdles to overcome. Help this generation understand the spiritual and intellectual proof for Jesus, God, and the Bible. Empower us with the facts that bring confidence and conviction.”
Proverbs 1:10 “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.”
The Great Church Exodus
Despite being a generation that may have been raised in the church many millenials have quit attending, though some statistics show promise:
- 50% of millennials believe in God with absolute certainty
- 30% believe in God, but with varying amounts of certainty
- 17% say they don’t believe at all (much lower than what you may have expected)
The question arises, if 80% of millenials have the spiritual sensitivity to “belief in God”, what has lead them to give up on church?
Should the problem be directed toward the church rather than the generation?
Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
While many churches are focusing on how to get millennials in the door, maybe the church should work on representing Christ in their conduct. The wave of seeker friendly churches has brought a diluted version of what Christ meant to be a light in the world.
The term ‘seeker friendly’ can be a misnomer of sorts. Churches should by all means be welcoming, supportive of young families, and loving to one another, but the idea has been taken a step further.
Many denominations have turned to a more entertainment type of theme. Weekly food and coffee offerings are a staple while laser lights and imitation smoke fill the auditoriums. Some churches have elaborate gifts for the children every week while others have an audio visual experience that rivals many concerts.
Another problem with the seeker-friendly movement is that in the desire to please every itching ear, these churches have relegated God and His Word to the back pews, ensuring that no one is offended by the truth.
With all the entertainment, it becomes difficult to see the power of God through the haze of smoke.
Romans 16:17 “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.”
If the church lacks power, the church fails to be that for which it was created. It’s no wonder so many young people have chosen other ‘entertainment’ venues than attending a church.
A Rising Church
I currently attend a strong Bible teaching church, one that focuses on expressing the love of God among its people while being lights in the world.
When a church has been established on Jesus Christ first, a measure of grace is given when it doesn’t seem as ‘entertaining’ as others.
Ephesians 2:19-22 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
What many of the seeker friendly churches are missing is what made the church so effective from the beginning.
- Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom. (2 Cor. 3:17) The focus on entertainment can lead people into bondage. Focusing on pleasing ourselves over pleasing God removes God’s people from experiencing the power of God through obedience.
- If the church isn’t being transformed into the image of God, it’s being transformed into an image of the world. (2 Cor. 3:18) Eventually, the weak message and rock festival atmosphere gives way to something else that’s entertaining. The millennial will show up occasionally to check into church, like going to a concert for a date, people might be nice but they can get that in a bar.
- The Spirit of God gives life. (2 Cor. 3:6) It’s hard to understand what a consistent walk with God looks like if it’s portrayed as a continuous party. The Lord is calling out to these churches and it’s a call to repentance.
2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
If the church of God doesn’t provide the hope of Christ, I fear this generation might suffer more than they already have. In a 2020 article in the Atlantic, Olga Khazan details the disturbing trend.
The headline states, “Suicides and overdoses among young adults were already skyrocketing before the pandemic started. Now experts fear that the situation is going to get even worse.”
In a report published last year by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, the economists Mark Duggan and Jackie Li found that mortality rates for people from ages 25 to 34 had risen by more than 20 percent since 2008. “That is, mortality rates among millennials ages 20 to 34 were substantially higher in 2016 than among their counterparts from Generation X when they were [their age] exactly 16 years earlier,” they write. The main contributors to the increase have been suicides and drug overdoses, and the increase was highest among white people.
Another report from the Trust for America’s Health last year found that drug-related deaths among people ages 18 to 34 more than doubled from 2007 to 2017, while alcohol-related deaths rose by 69 percent and suicides by 35 percent.
Ephesians 4:16 “From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
The sad finality of a suicide is the reality of world that is overwhelming the next generation.
The church must arise.
The people of God must take the Word of Truth and apply it effectively in their lives, in their families, and in their workplaces. The church is not meant to sit behind the stained glass windows, never letting the world to come in, it is meant to go forth with the gospel and live it before the world. The church must take the gospel to the lost and stop hoping they show up on Sundays.
The time is at hand. The commission remains the same.
May the Lord find us faithful.