It’s official—the Millennials have overtaken the Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation. This means that people currently between the ages of 20-36 will have more and more influence in shaping the culture of our society. It also means that the Church as a whole will increasingly sway with the needs and desires of millennial believers. The question then becomes—in what direction will they collectively guide the Church?
While many have managed to hold onto their faith—it seems that 59% of millennials who grew up in the Church are now forsaking it. And yet, as of 2016, 73% of Americans identify as Christian and over half of them still go to church. So despite the “millennial exodus,” it seems that the Church in North America isn’t going away anytime soon.
It’s important for millennials to remember that while our generation may dominate today’s headlines, we won’t stay in the limelight forever. Soon, the world will be talking about those 20 and under—and the millennial voice will fade into the background as a new generation of consumers takes the stage. When that happens, the stereotypical “angry millennial” will be like that one really opinionated uncle at a birthday party. Nobody wants to get stuck in a corner talking to him because all he does is complain about what’s wrong with the world. And while it might have been endearing in our twenties, it can be a bit off-putting in our 40’s.
When millennials exit stage left, what script will we hand off to the next generation? Will it be the same one that was handed to us when we came of age—that of divisive dialogue and dismal declarations? Instead of prophesying doom, what if we spoke out as heralds of hope—in our relationships, in our communities, and in our culture?
I am convinced that in order to become harbingers of hope for our millennial generation, we must cultivate more honesty, humility, and hospitality than ever before. God has called us to partner with Him in the ministry of reconciliation—which includes reconciling people to God and to each other. So if we really want to see revival spring up—both inside and outside the church building—we must be known by our love for one another in order to truly love the world. We must seek the unity Christ himself interceded for by reconciling every generation, denomination and demographic.
Now, to my fellow millennials who have left the Church—I see you. The Church has a long way to go to fully reach the lost, the marginalized and the next generation. After encountering its flaws and frustrations, I too have questioned whether our traditional church models will ever encounter true revival and reformation. But friends, can we not see that it is not our absence which carries the most power and weight, but our presence? Instead of choosing to leave, my hope is that many millennials will come to the conclusion that the Church is well worth the fight.