We millennials are a unique crowd. Because we are unsatisfied with the status quo, our presence in the church brings new challenges to older leaders. I believe the two can coexist. The combination of youth and experience can take new ground for the gospel, but first, “more experienced” leaders might want to check out 11 characteristics I have observed from my generation.
- Tradition bores us. The common attitude among millennials is apathy in regard to the past. Honestly, we are glad traditional services and methodology worked for older folks, but we care more about charting our own cultural identity. However, if this attitude is encouraged, generational unity in churches will suffer and cause them to reflect only one age demographic.
- We have favorite preachers. Don’t take offense. We still love our pastors, but the internet has opened up a door that past generations haven’t been able to access.
- We struggle with spiritual disciplines. Technology has crippled our commitment to sit down and simply be in the presence of God. Like never before, we need leaders to show us practical steps for spending time with the Lord despite all the distractions.
- Holiness isn’t a “thing.” We talk about it, but genuine holiness can be hard to spot among the millennial crowd. Without excusing our behavior, entertainment has saturated our minds and it leads us away from God’s design for sex, friendships, proper language, etc.
- Binge-watching Netflix is a “thing.” This is actually a significant generational mark of ours. Some of us young folks will, literally, deny ourselves the basic necessities of life because we are so determined to finish up a series. Thankfully, some among us are taking God that seriously, but I pray it becomes as widespread as binging on shows.
- Serving consistently takes a lot of effort for us. Commitment is not our generational strength. Since we are feeling-oriented, if we don’t feel like doing something on a particular day, it will take all of the Holy Spirit within us to get moving.
- We are passionate and idealistic. Access to the whole world via the internet has led us to believe we can achieve anything we put our minds to. This makes us powerful weapons in the hands of the right leaders who will show us practical steps to make our dreams reality.
- We are either ardent legalists or faltering liberals. This might be a function of age, but we have a hard time striking a balance in our theology. Once again, this presents an opportunity for seasoned leaders to teach us correct biblical doctrine.
- We love theology. In fact, we are probably enamored with it a little too much at times. However, this hunger to discover more about God can be channeled. Get us focused on beneficial, helpful doctrine and we can take the culture by storm.
- We are pretty much always connected to the internet. I don’t think this is unknown to older leaders, but just as a friendly reminder, the best way to reach us is through the internet. Once you have us connected through social media, then it is easier to set up meetings with us and get to know us more personally.
- This list is a generalization. I don’t meet every criterion on this list, but this is the millennial profile from a bird’s-eye view. By tackling generalized issues like the list above, you will draw in more of the outliers.
What about y’all fellow millennials? Do you have anything to add? In what ways do others need to better understand you? And where do you need to better understand yourself?