Any blog post, podcast, or book title that includes the word “Millennials” spikes interest. That’s because it’s an established fact now that the millennial’s are walking out of the church – en masse. What’s far from established is the cause. David Kinnamon links it to six different issues ranging from sexuality to philosophy. Ken Ham traces it to young earth creationism. A number of articles ask what worship styles the Millennials like so that everyone can rush out and get them to come back. And predictably, others observe that what Millennials really want is churches that don’t just reinvent themselves to coddle to what they really want.
I am a Millennial. I made the cut by just two years. Defined largely by the fact that we grew up using computers and the internet, it’s an interesting cohort to be part of. No one has decided yet whether we are the worst thing or the best thing to happen to our society.
But it’s time to add one more stick to the brush pile of opinions and pontifications on why my peers are vacating the church. As a millennial myself who has read every single book on the subject (Okay, fine. Only three, and they all disagreed), I have my own theory about what’s wrong with the Millennials.
Here it is: we’re people. That’s right. All of us. Fallen, sinners on our way to hell apart from the grace of God. Unfortunately the overwhelming majority of Millennials are in fact both rejecting God’s grace and on their way to hell. And that’s our problem.
OK, maybe the story is a little more nuanced. My guess is that on the long road of American secularization that lasted nearly a century and accelerated with the “sexual liberation” of the boomers, we have finally reached a tipping point. It had to come eventually. Now it’s here. This is the new normal. We are a secular society.
But my oversimplification is to make a point. The problem with Millennials is that we’re sinners. The last thing the church needs to do is panic, obsess about discovering what they “really want,” and tailor everything from worship to social media to reach them. How do you reach Millennials? The same way we’ve reached anyone else: with the power of God in the gospel. How do we reach them better? By sharing, preaching, explaining the truth more clearly and more honestly. Sure, American society is starting to look more like a pagan mission field than it was in the past. But we should probably stop kidding ourselves–it was always a mission field full of pagans. In the Millennials, it’s just taking a more overt form.
So next time you come across yet another theory of the perfect recipe to get Millennials back, it might have some merit. But most likely it doesn’t. Here’s where to start – it’s the golden key for reaching Millennials.
People on their way to hell apart from the grace of God need only one thing: the gospel. So let’s give it to them. Clearly. Passionately. Compassionately. The power of the gospel is the only thing that will change their lives.