Monday, August 19, 2013

My Thoughts on Millenials

So I, like most of you have been deeply pondering the blog post written by Rachel Held Evans on a recent CNN blog post, entitled, "Why Millenials Are Leaving The Church."  Many church members, and MY blog readers, have asked me to comment on the piece.  If you haven't read the article, it is well worth reading.  I enclose the article here for your perusal:

Let me begin with what I agree with Rachel on.  I completely agree with her that "making our churches hipper" should not be the focus of our churches as we move forward, and as we seek to connect with the next generation.  I totally agree with Rachel that our churches should not simply rely on the ephemera of our modern culture (coffee shops, cool bands, tight jeans, and cafe latte's) as we relate to those under 30.  I couldn't agree with her more that what church needs to strive to be is REAL.  I am 100% with Rachel that our churches need to be a place where her (and my) LGBT friends can worship freely without feeling judged.  Rachel is right on the mark on all of the aforementioned.

Where I would disagree with her, respectfully and I hope delicately, is that I don't believe Rachel speaks for ALL Millenials.  And here, I will very carefully wade into an analysis of the entire Millenial generation (I am not one, so this is a hazardous thing to do - I was born in 1972 - Barely Gen. X).  My problem with her blog is that she is only speaking for CHURCH going evangelical Millenials.  Rachel is speaking for those who are inside the tent, rather than outside the tent.  The very title of her well written article, "Why Millenials are LEAVING the Church," suggests that it is written from the standpoint of those who are already in the club.  She is speaking for kids who grew up in big churches, who went to cool youth groups, who sat through endless sermons on stewardship, who gave their life to Christ at awesome youth camps, who then went to college and looked around and said, "Wow the world is a lot bigger than I thought it was...bigger than my hometown megachurch."  Rachel is speaking for CHURCHED Millenials, but my experience leads me to believe that she is not speaking for DE-CHURCHED, or UN-CHURCHED Millenials.

Several years ago (before the current tragic conflagration), I visited the country of Egypt.  Egypt is steeped in Biblical history (the place of Jesus' upbringing, the place of Moses' upbringing, the place where Abraham gave up his wife to Pharaoh in order to get through the country unscathed), and so it was a place that I wanted to visit.  Upon arriving, I encountered a country so different from my own that I was surprisingly thrown off.  Every morning there were Muslim prayer chants, every corner had a spindled Mosque on it, every curio shop had incense burning inside of it.  In short, I knew that the religious world around me was very different than any place that I visited previously.  And at the same time, I was quite homesick.  I was needing something of comfort  and home.  And so, I visited the KFC (Yes, that's Kentucky Fried Chicken).  I ordered a huge bucket of chicken (to assuage my hunger and homesickness).  I found that that place, and that chicken, gave me some sort of comfort in the midst of the religious foreignness I was experiencing.  It was familiar chicken.  It was a comfortable setting.

Cross apply my Egypt KFC experience UN-CHURCHED Millenials.  What are Millenials most needing and wanting?  They want comfort.  They want to feel at home in a world that is a lattice-work of competing sales thrusts.  And I believe that UN-CHURCHED Millenials will need entry points that make sense to them.  What are the entry points for Millenials today?

*  Technology - I-Pads, I-Phones, I-everything
*  A Cause that's worth living for
*  A passionate leader who genuinely cares about people (all people)
*  A worship service that is relevant and helpful
*  Studied earthiness (I don't have enough time to write about this in this post, but there is an extremely studied earthiness about most Millenials.  That thrown together look isn't thrown together after all. Please see pictures of Mark Zuckerberg - that tattered hoody is probably $200).
*  The indefatigable quest for REAL

And the list goes on, because as a generation, Millenials may be the most diverse group of people in the history of generations.

I just want to close by saying again that I feel Rachel's thoughts are helpful in beginning the conversation about Millenials - I just don't feel they are complete,

All For Now,

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