20 Things Millennials Will Say to the Church Part 3

Over the next few weeks we’ll do some forward thinking to help us gain some perspective on millennials and the church. We’ll look at 20 things millennials will say to the church in 20 years that we can begin addressing now. Here are the first 45-8, and now 9-12

9. We asked for help, for mentoring, and no one signed up or raised their hand and said, “I’ll help you, I’ll be your mentor.”

Do yourself a favor. Google these two words – Millennials & Mentoring in the same search. There are thousands of articles, posts, videos, images, etc. expressing the importance of mentoring for Millennials. Millennials, for the most part, want a mentor for nearly each area of their life.

A few months ago we asked about 100 Millennials if it was important to them to have a mentor and 86% said, yes it is, “very important.” I know that churches are filled, jammed packed even, with people who have the life experience to be a mentor to a Millennial. Who will stand up and say that mentoring is “very important” to them as well and take on a few Millennials to mentor?

It is possible that the Millennials in your church and community may want more than one mentor. Some see the need to have a mentor for every major area of their life – finances, parenting, marriage, work, etc. Who will step up to be sure we don’t hear, “We asked for help and no one helped us.” BTW, don’t wait for a Millennial to ask. Through on-going personal relationships mentoring emerges. Don’t over think it.

10. “Well, we just couldn’t get behind your aspiration to fix everyone.”

What is the story that people in your community tell about your church or your own leadership? Is it a story of mercy and compassion for the broken? Or, is it a story of inflexibility and piety of the perfect?

When my family first moved to Kansas City from Chicago we began looking for a church. We visited one church on the recommendation of a neighbor. Everything seemed great until the pastor stood to welcome everyone and he said, “I am so glad to see you here today. Today you will hear the Bible unapologetically preached, which can’t be said for every church in town. You’ve come to the right place to get your life right.” We got up and left immediately.

Millennials want a church community in which there is no perfect people allowed. If your church has the vision to fix everyone and make them “right,” you won’t attract Millennials. Your dream or vision shouldn’t be to fix everyone; it should be to love everyone, the broken, especially.

11. “Many in church appeared to be afraid of culture, like it was looming in the not so distant dark waiting for the right time to reach out and get them.”

I feel sorry for churches and church leaders who live in fear. Fear can cripple good leaders and turn in them to reluctant leaders. Living in fear of culture prevents a church and its leaders to faithfully reach out to the non-religious. I believe this is one of the main reasons why the number of “nones” and “dones” is rapidly increasing. Churches are afraid to develop trust with those outside the church.

Yes, evil is real and it comes to us in all kinds of ways. However, the Kingdom of God is never in trouble [Dallas Willard]. Why do we worship a God who we believe is the sovereign King and yet live in fear that anyone outside the church is either 1) out to get us, 2) hiding something from us or 3) trying to convert us away from the hope in which we live?

The prayer of Jesus in John 17 was not to take the disciples out of the world. Rather, it was to protect them as they lived within the world, for the sake of the world.

12. “The Jesus you preached seemed so un-human.”

Most of the Millennials I talk with are way more than open to the idea of Jesus. Some are even open to Jesus as truth. Where they lack confidence in pursing Jesus is in their ability to see him as anything other than what many churches have painted him to be – a legendary and fabled person who is unconnected to lives today.

Jesus was a human – he had moments of anger, disappointment, pain, suffering, frustration and heartbreak. Jesus also had moments of peace, friendship, celebration, affection, compassion, etc. When I think of Jesus as a human being I can’t help but reflect on John 11 – the famous passage where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Much to discuss about that particular narrative, but for our discussion, simply reflect back on the emotion Jesus displayed when he wept and mourned with friends after the death of Lazarus.

When we teach a hard-plastic Jesus we get a hard-plastic response. Rather than churches and leader teaching about the Jesus who was, what if we were more intentional about teaching the Jesus who is – connected still, through the Holy Spirit, to our lives.