I was not surprised but was hoping to be surprised.
[Quick review: I read the report over the weekend. It’s okay but not life-changing, at least for me. I feel queasy whenever anyone of any generation makes statements like, “Millennials like ____.”]
Back to God things.
Millennials are spiritual human beings – as are other generations before and after them. It’s just that most Millennial human beings find spiritual nourishment in something different from what fed their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.
We human beings – of all generations – are created to be in community, to find meaning, to serve something Greater than ourselves. Some people are fed by 19th or 20th Century worship traditions. And many are not.
But our churches/spiritual communities need to pay attention to what nourishes 21st Century souls – regardless of generation.
If you feel closer to God wearing a coat and tie or navy pumps on Sunday morning sitting in traditional church pews and hearing a three point sermon and a pipe organ – keep doing that. If you serve your Maker by participating in church committees and singing in the choir, please continue to do these things. I’m completely serious about this.
But note that most people feel close to God, most people serve their Maker in other ways. The way human beings have honored their Creator has evolved throughout the ages. Once it was not having sex certain times of the month or taking great pains to sacrifice a dove in a precise way. For some today, it’s tithing 10% of one’s income. For others it’s studying scripture in a comfortable church parlor. And for others it might be taking part in an after school program for first graders or learning to speak Spanish in order to communicate with the new neighbors or buying Fair Trade coffee.
Our job as disciples of Jesus is to help make that connection between caring for each other and for the world and the God of the universe.
Our calling is to be cultural tour guides connecting what we see out there (and in “here” – our souls) with the living Word of God (i.e. Jesus.)
We cannot possibly make these connections with dated connectors. According to Charlotte’s Millennial Report 20 to 30-somethings are moved by images, peer review, and transparency. Word of mouth is how most people – even in my generation – learn about new restaurants, good movies, and inspiring art.
When was the last time your congregation’s life together was the buzz around town?
Because the God we worship is exceptional, our churches also need to be The Exception to the world’s darkness. In a world rife with blackface photos, uncovered sexual assaults and fake news, we are called to be radically just, wholly respectful and utterly true.
And we have a lot of lamentation, repentance, and reparations to make before anyone will take The Church seriously. Who is up for this – for the sake of the Gospel?
You can order the 2018 Charlotte, NC Millennial Plan here. Even if you don’t live in Charlotte, it offers ideas for all cities and towns (and congregations.)