How Millennials Feel About The Term ‘Christian’

As you know, every couple of weeks, Burlap interviews or surveys 100 millennials to help us know how to best help churches reach millennials.  Recently we conducted a survey, in which we asked the question, “When you hear the term ‘Christian’ what three words come to mind?”

Take a moment and write down what three words come to mind when you hear the term Christian.  Got them down, or at least in your head?  Here are the top three responses, positive and negative, from the 100 millennials we asked:

POSITIVE

Generous

Selfless

Accepting

 

NEGATIVE

Judgmental

Misinformed

Exclusive

 

Tipping the Scale

I am sure that the millennials responses, both negative and positive, do not surprise you.  I wasn’t the least bit surprised. I was actually a little excited.  The kind words and the not-so-kind words almost offset each other.  Which would mean that out of the 100 millennials we surveyed, half of them had a positive perspective on the term ‘Christian.’  

But… how do we tip the scales?  Should we, as the church, be settled by the fact that we had about half the people surveyed say nice things about the term Christian? Or should we work harder to cultivate a people that is know more greatly by its generous, selfless and accepting characteristics?  Of course we can be more faithful in cultivating a people that is defined by the life of Jesus.  

In one of my recent books called, Gladhearted Disciples, I state this: “…gladhearted disciples are followers of Jesus who are generous people looking into the future through a lens of hope, accepting but not settling for what the world has become, and yet determined to live in such a way that engages the world in Christ-centered mission, through the empowerment and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and with the purpose of bringing the redemptive reign of God in Christ into every dimension of life.”

In what ways can we tip the scales?  How can we make more gladhearted disciples of millennials? 

Three ways to begin cultivating millennials who are known as gladhearted disciples:

  • Develop a new apologetic.  It is a post-Christian world.  Stop using modern apologetics to try and convince people they need Jesus.  Instead, let love be the reigning apologetic.  
  • Determine to see the world as God sees is. Grief often leads to actions filled with generous love that gives a name and face to authentic compassion.  God looks at the brokenness of our world as is grieved.  The opposite, for some, is to view the world through a lens of disgust. This is not how God views the world.  Disgust often leads to hate.  
  • Discover the best way to tell, ‘do you remember when’ stories.  ‘Do you remember’ implies a shared experience.  A shared experience implies a ministry of presence through proximity and time.  Want to tip the scales?  Then determine to be Jesus to others where you work, live and play.

Leader, what is your role in modeling what it means to be a gladhearted disciple?  Let’s tip the scales.