Millennials, More Friendship, Less Church!

imagesMillenials! Believe me they are different. Try these classic quotes, rewritten for millennials – “A picture is worth a thousand words” becomes ‘an emoji is worth a thousand words’; “Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all” to “Better to have GIFed and lost than never to have GIFed at all” and “You are what you eat” now “You are what you download.” (’21 Classic quotes Reimagined for the Millennial Generation’- buzzfeed.com) By the way, GIF stands for Graphic Information Format, but you knew that, right? Millennials were born between 1980 and 2000. They are also called Generation Y, Generation Next and Net Generation.

Years ago my first music album (remember those?) was by The Four Lads. I loved it but my dad called it ‘noise’! “Turn that noise down,” he would demand. Generations come and go and they all seem to have different tastes but with a little effort we learn to communicate to some extent. It may take concerted effort and understanding but I have always found encouraging the youth in their likes and ambitions helps. In other words, be involved in their lives.

Recently I observed the response when a teenager shocked her world. She committed suicide. Where I could, I reached out with encouragement but I noticed the value to the grieving, of text messaging. The tight group of friends reached out to each other with sorrow and sensitivity by text. Some went to Facebook to pay tribute to the ‘fallen angel.’ This is the way of millennials, they text one another. Their network is very tight. They find encouragement, security and identity from each other and the other is just a quick click away.

 Multi-tasking

images-1I have learned millennials are very ‘with it.’ They are experts at multi-tasking. My millennials can be in conversation with me, texting on their ipads or ipods, and watching TV all at the same time. Theyre not ignoring me, they just have the ability to connect by multi-tasking. (Took a while to learn that!)

Forty years ago my wife Yvonne and I set up the Hamburger Hut as a Saturday night outreach centre for youth. The fellowship was all about music, movies and burgers but the attraction was the social getting together. We offered a bible study in our home to those interested and that was a great time for all of us. We were criticized for our live rock and roll music but it was the music of the day and we enjoyed it too.

Right now Christian communities must find ways to communicate effectively with millennials who need encouragement and support. Last February (2017) unemployment for youth in Australia was 13.3 per cent. I have spoken with many who feel their future is bleak. Less than 1 in 10 young Aussies think they will be more financially secure than their parents, look at house and apartment prices in Sydney! Millennials also have a strong fear of terrorism and crime. They are understandably concerned. The McCrindle Research reports by 2020 average work tenure will be 3 years. More than 1 in 3 workers will be casual. (mccrindle.com.au) They know more about robots and technology than we do and they are worried.

In America 65% of millennials rarely attend church; 70% say church is irrelevant according to The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation.

Millennials make up 20 percent of the Australian population but I read an Australian marketing expert Rosie Baker said, “Millennials are on the brink of becoming the most important market for Australian brands.” She was writing about luxury items and advising marketers to get with it to keep their market share. Their outreach to the millennials required targeted advertising and they must ‘go mobile’, she said. (Luxury brands ‘must skew advertising younger and go mobile’, Rosie Baker, Ad News)

Millennials in America recently told church leaders we don’t like preaching, we need mentoring. What an invitation?

It is very interesting to me Jesus when he was 12 years old was found in the synagogue with the teachers. Luke said he was ‘listening to them and asking them questions.’ (Luke chapter 2, verse 46b). That was a very millennial type thing to do! Most millennials I know, ask question after question. They are not satisfied with an answer from an authority figure. Instead they are certain to discuss the details with their own age-group.

One US millennial wrote: “Contrary to popular belief, we can’t be won back with hipper worship bands, fancy coffee shops or pastors who wear skinny jeans.” Sounds like a cry for reality to me!

Today if I were in church leadership, I would be encouraging my youth to text their friends and neighbours, start communicating, sharing, listening and learning. Mentoring may be the tool of the future and you only need faith and an ipod to do it. My wife and I kept goodies in the fridge and that guaranteed more personal contact,