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Having an Impact: Calling All Millennials

First, a caveat to what I’m about to discuss.  I have grown very weary of negative generalizations about “what’s wrong with this generation” or “why this is the worst generation EVER.”  I’m a part of Generation X and I heard all of this same negativity about my generation in the late 90’s.  It irritated me when it was done to me, and it irritates me when it’s done to Millennials.

I am not doing that here, and if you are a “Millennial Hater”, please exit stage left.  That kind of talk only makes you irrelevant, and it invalidates any gospel representation you desire to make.

That being said, each generation has it’s own peculiarities.  Gen X (me) had serious identity problems.  We didn’t know who we wanted to be, and really we still don’t.  Millennials have their issues as well.  I believe it is one of the jobs of the Church to see the unique needs of its day and bring the gospel to bear on those needs as the true and better solution to all that is broken in humanity.

Before we go on, check out this very insightful video by Simon Sinek.  Sinek is a leadership expert who really nails what is irking millennials and how we can reach them.  (NOTE: he’s speaking in a business context, but you will immediately see the correlations to the Church)

Wasn’t that good?  Whether you are of the millennial generation or not, the insight into how our culture is operating is quite helpful.

Sinek says that Millennials are accused of being entitled and that they want to “make an impact” or “have a purpose”.  Despite what they want, they are unhappy.

He lists 4 reasons: 1) parenting, 2) technology, 3) impatience, 4) environment.

Parents told them that they could be anything they want just because they want it.  They got rewards for just showing up, not for winning.  Then in the real world they discover they aren’t special and coming in last doesn’t get you promoted in your career.  Technology has given them a way to temporarily fill the void this creates, but it doesn’t satisfy a human being’s need for real connection to other human beings.  Tech is addictive, but it isn’t rewarding in any kind of deeper level.  Technology has also taught them that you can have what you want NOW and not LATER.  Everything is instant gratification.  Instant “friends”, instant purchases, instant fame, instant everything.  These millennials are being thrown into work environments that only want to use them for profit, but is not willing or able to help them find life fulfillment.  These corporations aren’t able to teach them what their parents should have.

Sinek says “It’s the company’s responsibility” to teach them.  I disagree.  In fact, I’m horrified at the idea of a corporation taking on the responsibility of teaching a person how to make friends, have patience, and find real joy in life.  Certainly the Church is better equipped to do this job!

Certainly the gospel stands above corporate America in it’s ability to answer these deeper questions.  The Church is built on deep, meaningful, face-to-face relationships.  Without these relationships, there is no Church.  If we manage to make disciples in the same way that Jesus did, all of these problems get addressed.

The catch is that we have to be willing to put down our cellphones (even leave them in the car…), leave our house, and put ourselves in a situation where we are face-to-face with another person.  We have to be willing to have expectations of each other in regards to patience, faithfulness, and perseverance.  This deep desire for impact, purpose, and joy is a wide open door to the Church and the gospel.  But the Church must be willing to be counter-cultural in it’s radical dedication to Christian community, Biblical faithfulness, and authenticity of faith.  Can anyone be called to having a greater impact than becoming a beloved citizen of the Kingdom of God and then commissioned to call others to the same?  Can anyone live a life of purpose greater than being called a child of God?  Is there any greater joy than being a worshiper of the Creator among the family of Believers?

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