Blah, blah, blah, blah….We’ve been hearing how that if the church wants to cease its decline it had better find a way to appeal to millennials. For those of us who haven’t had that term defined for us, its what researchers have labeled people who were reaching adulthood around the year 2000, the beginning of the third millennium.
Roberta Matuson has an article in Forbes.com that challenges the ongoing stereotype about millennials. Its called The Shocking Truth About Millennials. She refers to an article in the Harvard Business Review by Bruce Pfau which challenges the notion that millennials are more unique than the rest of us (at least from a business standpoint). Companies spend truckloads of cash investigating what millennials want out of their careers. My summary of her article about someone else’s article about millennials is this: millennials want to be valued, appreciated, respected, feel they have purpose, and feel they have status. Shocker, huh?
Meh. Meh, means lacking enthusiasm. That is, I find all these things we’ve been hearing about a widening gap between the church and millennials is meh. Why? The issue isn’t that most millennials prefer a Burger King motto which was “Have it your way!” but is now “Be your way!”The issue isn’t that they think of themselves as a unique group with a unique lifestyle. Everyone thinks that way! My four year old thinks that way. This shouldn’t be a shocker to us who’ve experienced church for even a short period of time. Churches can have and most do have histories. By the word histories I mean all of this: jealousies, divisions, aimlessness, and hate. If we want to start writing new histories and appealing to people of any age that means we need to realize that people, all people, want to be valued, appreciated, respected, feel they have purpose, and feel they have status. Shocker, huh?
A truth about millennials might be that they want more tech toys than those before them, but that isn’t the statistic businesses or churches should find interesting. Churches have even become more tech oriented but that doesn’t retain an appeal for very long. Why? Even according to business articles all people, want to be valued, appreciated, respected, feel they have purpose, and feel they have status. That is the statistic churches should find very interesting, yet the strategies they employ don’t always reflect that statistic.
Someone right now is thinking that this is where I should start writing “Well, then whose fault is it?” But finger pointing really isn’t the point is it? The point is this: the name of the church we’re attending can’t solve a heart problem, so how do we solve it and solve it fast? Well, maybe trying to solve it fast like a company looking to capitalize on its own workers isn’t such a good idea. If companies are losing millennials the best solution likely isn’t to offer them Apple Watches but continue to devalue them as humans. Maybe churches should also recognize that reaching others “outside of church” can be just as difficult as reaching others “inside of church” and that gimmicks will get people’s attention but they won’t reciprocate people’s devotion to God. I’ve been told that finding people in their trials and being with people in their pain can begin communicating a very valuable thing; value. Then conversation about God’s kingdom can sound less like a commercial and more like a loving friend.
All of us have different perspectives and different lives. Some people think they’re old school and some people think they’re cutting edge. Some take too much pride in knowledge and some say Meh to knowledge. Yet, we must all work together in the world of business and in the business of God’s kingdom. How can we do this? Do we need to spend truckloads of cash to find the answers? Where do we even begin? What should the process look like?
If someone were to summarize this article about an article about millennials, which is really about how the people of Jesus are being shaped and what Jesus’ kingship should feel like inside and outside of the church it might start like this: all people want to be valued, appreciated, respected, feel they have purpose, and feel they have status. ….Because in Jesus Christ, the King of the World….they really do.