MILLENNIALS AND THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
Millennials are that generation born roughly between 1980 and 2000. At 80 million, they represent the largest segment of the U. S. population and the largest segment of the U. S. workforce.
I have been doing a bit of reading about the Millennials and their characteristics, and have been thinking about how the Lord’s church might have a special appeal to them if they could be led to have a clear understanding of it. Of course, all people need to know about Christ, His gospel, His church, and the way marked out in Scripture for how the Lord would have all people to live (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).
According to my research (and admittedly it is limited), Millennials are looking for a strong sense of purpose and a chance to grow and learn. They are looking for coaches/mentors who take a personal interest in them. They are extremely team oriented, are transparent, and like honest and open relationships. They want a personal connection to the causes to which they commit themselves.
Millennials are tech savvy and know everything about social media.
They are multi-taskers, but as a consequence they can be easily distracted and side-tracked from the task at hand. They want opportunities to advance and develop their careers, but look for work-life balance and flexibility. They have a “work hard” / “play hard” approach to life.
Millennials also are known as the “Me Generation.” They crave instant gratification, having grown up receiving instant gratification and recognition from their Baby Boomer parents (born between 1946 and 1964). Growing up, Millennials did not always have to actually excel at anything (academically, sports-wise, or otherwise) in order to be recognized or given an award of some kind. They were given trophies, certificates, gift cards, etc. just for “showing up and participating.” Apparently, in no instance was their self-esteem to be negatively impacted!
Millennials are said to be “nuanced, multifaceted, and open to many modes of thought.” “They’re going to change the world, but they’re in no hurry to move out of the room over mom’s garage.” They will figure out who they are “as soon as they start paying all of their own bills.”
According to David Kinnaman, President of the Barna Group, “When it comes to Scripture, practicing Christian Millennials—self-identified Christians who attend church at least once a month and who describe their religious faith as very important to their life—are quite orthodox and continue to hold the Bible in very high regard. In fact, nearly all of them believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life (96%). The same proportion claim the Bible is the actual or inspired word of God (96%). Among these young adults, a plurality say, ‘The Bible is the actual word of God and should be taken literally, word for word’ (46%); an additional four in 10 agree it is divinely inspired and has no errors, though ‘some verses are meant to be symbolic rather than literal’ (39%); and 11% say the Bible is the inspired word of God, ‘but has some factual or historical errors’ ” (“What Millennials Believe About The Bible”). Millennials hold a high view of Scripture and are said to still prefer to engage the Bible in print. (Remember, the preceding is a description of those who view themselves as Christian Millennials, and is not representative of all Millennials by any means).
In the light of the above, it occurs to me that Millennials represent a large and ripe field to be harvested for the undenominational autonomous churches of Christ, overseen/shepherded/pastored by a plurality of godly, biblically qualified elders, served by a number of special servants (deacons), with preachers, teachers, and members all working together for the advancement of simple New Testament Christianity.
Churches of Christ have no denominational founder or origin. They have no denominational hierarchy or headquarters. They adhere to no denominational creed and are bound by no denominational traditions. They wear no denominational name, but seek simply to be Christians only and the church of which one reads in the New Testament. They have no denominational forms of worship, but adhere to the simple elements of worship that characterized the New Testament church. They have no denominational plan of salvation, but set forth the very plan found in the New Testament.
My good friend Phil Sanders, speaker on the international television program “In Search of the Lord’s Way,” stated in a January 23, 2018 Facebook post: “As churches of Christ, we are distinctive! We preach the need for Biblical authority, restoring New Testament Christianity. We preach against the errors of innovation and human doctrines. We speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent. We have no relationship with any denomination but look to Jesus as the only head of His church and the Bible as our rule of faith and practice.”
In his insightful blog “Something to Think About” of March 22, 2018, my friend and fellow preacher of the gospel James Hayes stated: “Churches of Christ (Rom. 16:16) reject the denominational model for church life. We seek to restore New Testament Christianity. We seek to do Bible things in Bible ways. We endeavor to look at Scripture through 1st century lenses and apply those truths to our 21st century lives. We do not have conventions where doctrinal matters are decided by popular vote. We do not have a central headquarters where decisions are made by special committees—each congregation governs its own affairs. We believe that what saved people 2,000 years ago will save people today, since God is not a respecter of persons. That method of biblical interpretation ignores American social trends, but that’s okay since God never commanded us to ride the socially trendy waves. It is a belief that we must first go back to Scripture in order for us to move forward as a church.”
We believe the above description of churches of Christ should have an appeal to Millennials. In fact, we believe it should have an appeal to all who will give thoughtful consideration to it.
Hugh Fulford June 12, 2018
Speaking Schedule: June 13 (7 p.m.): Shackle Island Church of Christ, Goodlettsville, TN June 24 (6 p.m.): Willow Avenue Church of Christ, Cookeville, TN June 27 (7 p.m.): Blackmon Church of Christ, Murfreesboro, TN