Millennials: It is not about survival it is about arrival
I scour the web for articles related to millennials and generation Z – particularly (but not exclusively) related to how both generations and their unique segments relate with the church and their specific outlook, attitudes, and behaviors toward the church. My Google alerts notify me daily of the literally hundreds of articles being written. There is no way to keep up.
Most articles have the same tone and tendency – to disprove or prove the stereotypes of emerging generations. I read many of them simply for the information to pass on to others. Occasionally I will come across an article, however, that stands out and piques my interest causing me to want to post about it.
Today that was true for an article written by Ed Cyzewski. Cyzewski is the author of A Christian Survival Guide (I have not read the book) and he has written a short article called, The Mystery Of Millennials: They Aren't Who You Think They Are over at christiantoday.com.
I agree, largely, with Mr. Cyzewski’s claim that millennials are not who pastors and church leaders think they are. I agree particularly with his assessment regarding the misconceptions of millennials and, from my own experience, I can also stand with his thinking related to how many millennials are struggling financially – mostly with college debt.
However, even with the misconceptions and the financial hardships that many millennials are trying to overcome I do not see their major outlook on life as one of survival. Rather, I see their outlook being more connected to arrival – eagerly waiting the day and time in which they will genuinely be taken seriously.
What implications does this reality have for churches? Many. Here is a short list of 5 implications the millennial outlook I call “arrival” has for the church:
Leadership: give millennials the opportunity to lead and empower them – then loosen control and get out of the way.
Conversation: invite millennials to talk about the future of the church and the intersection of life and faith.
Mentoring: millennials seek mentoring so provide it and demonstrate their worth as people but also as mission-minded kingdom contributors.
Acceptance: even if the stereotypes are true (many of them are not) accept them for who they are.
Patience: give millennials, particularly the skeptics, time to explore God without agenda – love them for who they are not for what they can do for the growth of your church
I don’t think the driving set of values guiding millennials is primarily about survival. Instead, I think they are about a dream of an arrival. Millennials are eagerly waiting the day and time that they’ll be genuinely taken seriously.