I read article after article instructing the Church on how millennials do not accept absolutes, rules, or authority. We are told they are leaving the Church in large numbers or transferring over to more traditional practices of liturgy. They are tired of hip and cool preachers, performances on the platform, and shallow experiences.
Let’s take a look at these claims. I believe some of them reflect the unregenerate heart and mind of a generation. I also see that some of these claims reflect the heart of God for His next move and it is revealed in this generation. It seems every generation reflects the fallen nature of mankind and also the mark of God for that generation.
First of all, no generation has ever embraced rules and authorities from the very beginning. True, the idea of rules and absolutes would have been more embraced a century ago. However, in the most recent history, the baby boomer generation pushed to experience free-love and all that went with the 60’s rebellion. Those of my generation did not trust anyone over 30 years of age and felt like if they had not left home in their teens then they were just supporting the establishment. Protest became a way of expressing frustration with authorities. Though I was never part of that rebellious hippie movement of my day (I actually came in on the end of that era), I can look back and see how the rebellion of the age crept into my own soul. It was not expressed in me the way it was on the nightly news, but there was a sense of independence and making it on our own. We were a generation that cast off spiritual fathers as many did in their natural families. Only by the grace of God were any of us kept or delivered from the spirit of that age.
Here is the point. God always turns the heart of the unregenerate of every generation. God brought forth the Jesus movement and the Charismatic movement during that time period and transformed hearts and minds world-wide, totally opposite of what was in that generation. The generation that rejected authority and parents have now become spiritual fathers and mothers walking under authority and embracing spiritual authority in their own lives and serving as such to this present fatherless millennial generation.
We must be careful to not look at the unregenerate aspect of a generation and tell the Church how to respond. It is good to look at the characteristics of a generation, but we must not let that determine the message of the church. The reason millennials do not believe in absolutes is not because they are millennials, it is because they are a by-product of three generations that have rejected God’s laws and the Bible as being authoritative. Remember the millennials have grown up not seeing the Word of God embraced in their homes or schools and churches. They are the by-product of situation ethics, Godless education systems, and a culture that bids for their unregenerate minds to reject such ideas of absolutes. I have discovered that millennials, once they have had a true encounter with God and are converted from their sinful nature, not only embrace absolutes but desire spiritual authority in their lives greater than my own generation. They are not leaving home but staying around crying for mentors and spiritual parents. They have a mark of God upon them in this area.
We are told that millennials are leaving the church. Let’s examine that statement. Not trying to be technical here, but there is a lot that is called “the church” that is not necessarily the church. No doubt, what is being said is they are no longer attending the same buildings or crowds in the same way their parents did. The Church is the body of Christ and is a living organism in the earth. If you are born again and transformed by God’s Spirit you can’t leave the Church any more than you can quit being part of your natural family. You may not want to hang around your natural family at holidays but you are still part of that family.
I believe two things are being revealed here. One is that many of this generation have never truly been converted. Their parents took them to church but they never experienced a true conversion. They have grown up in church services, they like doing good for others, and have sought to have significance in life, but never have experienced the power of God in their life. Many have formed a non-biblical view of God and His nature. They have determined certain things about God that are not derived from the Scriptures. For the most part, they are ignorant of the Word of God because they have not been taught at home nor at church. They are left to reason from their own worldview. That is why they are looking for something real.
The other aspect being revealed is they are a reflection of all of us. We are told they want authenticity, relationships in community, and real and practical religion. Who doesn’t want these things? We are all tired of hip and cool preachers, performances on the platform, and shallow experiences. We all want authenticity and community relationships. That is, once we get healed and past our own fears and hurts. What if this aspect of the millennials is a reflection of the true God-given desire of our present culture? What if this is the call of God for all believers to be real, authentic, and relational without performance and prestige? Sounds like the real church to me. Could a new move of God be forming in the earth? A move that is made up of spiritual fathers and sons, as well as spiritual mothers and daughters, walking out authenticity and community in life. What if the millennials are the beginning of a new move in today’s church? I would like to think so and for that reason I am watching with great anticipation. And besides, I like this generation. I really do.