September 25, 2017
Oh, Millennials. [Insert eye roll here – just kidding!] Poor Millennials have become the punch line to many jokes nowadays. If you’re unaware, Millennials are usually defined as those born between the years 1982-2004. Technically…I may fall into that category. Buuuut I don’t consider myself to be one. Here’s why:
(1) When I want to learn how to do something, my first instinct isn’t to consult YouTube.
(2) I truly and deeply wish to revert to a time before smart phones and social media.
(3) Despite my birth year, I wasn’t raised by Gen Xers; my dad is from the Silent Generation and my mom is a Baby Boomer – I received a completely different set of life values from my upbringing than most Millennials did.
But I have to admit: I have wanderlust just like they do. Maybe even more so.
Even during their relatively short lives so far, Millennials have gained a pretty poor reputation from their predecessors, who are so busy rolling their eyes at their idiosyncrasies that their many good qualities often get overlooked.
For instance, Millennials value diversity. They feel outrage at social injustice. They are self-motivated entrepreneurs. They want to be transparent about imperfections. They care about meeting other people’s needs on both small and large scales. They educate themselves (or so they think) on social and environmental issues and take action to make (what they view as) positive changes in the world. They have principles. They believe, so they do. These are admirable qualities in my book.
And sure, like every other generation, Millennials also have their shortcomings. Their sensitive souls can’t handle constructive criticism. They feel incapable of drawing breath if separated from their cell phones. And patience…wait, what is that again? What do you mean I have to work for what I want and it may not be my dream job?
But these aren’t the weaknesses that worry me.
Millennials may care about social and environmental issues, but even amongst believers many lack the absolute truth of the Bible to base their opinions on. Instead, truth is being defined on a personal basis, whatever feels right in the moment. So, not only are they viewing the world through a secular lens instead of a biblical worldview, but they are taking action to change the world according to what they see. And so far, they are the largest generation the western world has known – they will bring about change, but that change will not be based on biblical truth if current trends continue.
While Millennials have an abundance of positive qualities, one that has been redefined is honor. I blame this in large part on social media and the entertainment industry, which have taught that it’s acceptable to forego honorable actions like keeping one’s commitments or accepting personal responsibility whenever it’s convenient. Now comfort and personal desires come first. Previous generations desired to conduct themselves with honor, but I had to wade through seven definitions of honor before Merriam-Webster even described it as “a keen sense of ethical conduct.” Times certainly have changed!
But if these are the generalized attributes and weaknesses of an entire generation, how do we use this gold mine of knowledge to reach them for Christ? How can we disciple those Millennials who are already believers so that they desire spiritual meat, not milk, when they don’t want to be held accountable? They don’t readily apprehend that believers do what we do because the Bible tells us what is right and what is wrong, not our hearts.
It falls on our shoulders to find effective methods for communicating biblical truth to Millennials. Our Savior has commanded us to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and to be “made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (I Corinthians 9:22). Somehow, we have to figure out how to engage them without abandoning biblical principles. It may require uncomfortable change on our parts, like learning how Millennials view the world and participating in what’s important to them so we can understand before we teach.
Millennials have a lot to give. They are warm and caring, yet fierce-hearted. They want to fix the problems they see. They are all about helping those in need and showing love to others. They take action based on their principles. What fantastic attributes! As we work to win them as a force for Christ, let’s remember that our battle is “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Sisters in Christ, how can we message that the Bible is absolute truth to this generation without losing our credibility to continue witnessing to and discipling them? Please share in the comments below for our shared benefit.
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Family Radio Staff