As some of you know, I’m eye deep in research for a school project. I’ve chosen the topic of why the younger generation (mostly Millienials, but also some Gen X&Y) is leaving the traditional church as we know it.
I’m reading a book by Paul and Carson Nyquist entitled “The Post Church Christian.” Wow! What an eye opener. I’ve been on board with my good friend and pastor John for several years now that we’ve been experiencing a culture shift within the church and if we don’t educate ourselves on what’s going on, we will find ourselves frustrated and behind the times when it comes to the current generation’s thoughts and attitudes about church and God and our relationship to both.
Back to the book I’m reading…Carson is a Millenial and Paul is a Baby Boomer. The book provides an inside look into the heart and mind of both generations and the blog post below by Dineen resonated with something Carson said in the book. He explained that the Millenial generation (those born between 1982 and 2000) is one that has the need to create. They aren’t going to be mini versions of their Baby Boomer parents. And Paul acknowledges this as he realizes his kids are growing up in a completely different society.
As the church, we need to be willing to set aside the preferences and old way of doing things to allow for the creativity that God has given this generation to expand His kingdom. Dineen’s blog below resonates with that creativity and I thought it would be helpful for us all to be reminded that because we are created in God’s image, we too are born with the capacity to create and do great things.
I encourage you as well to begin your own research on why the church is shifting and why things aren’t going the way you think they should be. There are many great resources. Books like “unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity, and Why it Matters,” “Already Gone,” “Ethoshift,” “You Lost Me,” etc are presenting the reality of what people really think about Christianity.
We all have had the conversations about what is happening and why this and why that. Educate yourself. Be willing to let go of your past traditions (or at least don’t impose them on others), and allow this generation’s creativity to blaze the trail ahead of you. Be willing to jump on board with these younger ones and get out of your comfort zone and your box and be open to how God is using this generation to proclaim his love, grace, and forgiveness to our post-christian America.
I like Carson’s attitude…be willing to just engage the world as it is. Quit trying to “win America back to Jesus.” Instead go be Jesus to your neighbors. Live among them; engage them in conversation; be their friend. That is what produces long-lasting change. Remember, Jesus didn’t try to “win Jerusalem,” he came to “make disciples” who in turn turned their world upside down.
What can you do today, tomorrow, and this year to be creative in your approach to sharing the gospel with the small corner of the world God has given to you? What can you do to move beyond “what you’ve always known” to step out in faith into the unknown? What can you do to move past your neatly packaged christianity (it’s “supposed” to look like “this”) to see and be a part of the reality of what God is doing in the messy details of the reality of everyday life? What can you do to take the timeless principles and truths of God’s Word and make them relevant for this generation?
This generation craves social interaction, brutal authenticity, and a place where they can feel safe to be authentic without being handed some spiritual cliche’ to answer the reality of their lives. What are you doing to create that kind of place which will give you the “right” to engage them in the spiritual conversation? You’ll have to earn that right in this generation by befriending them first. Then and only then will they hear what is important to you. We must get creative about going to them. They won’t be coming to us any time soon.
Be creative! (Don’t forget to read Dineen’s blog post HERE).