Over the last couple years of researching and studying what’s on the hearts and minds of Millennials when it comes to their faith experience and what they’re looking for from church, three themes stand out.
I think these foundations of Millennial faith are an exciting tie to the core of our faith for centuries past, and also point to some new(er) horizons to explore.
1. Resilience in the Gospel
2. Rootedness in Family and Community
3. Relationship between Faith and Work
Here’s the first one:
Resilience in the Gospel
Leading Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said something once that has really stuck with me: Millennials are often more theologically rooted than their parents, who tended to be politically rooted in living out their faith. Here's his explanation:
"On the whole, though, I find the millennial generation's grasp of Gospel Christianity far better than what we've seen in a long time…They tend to be better at articulating a Christian vision of life, because they've had to do so all their lives, never able to count on a pseudo-Christian culture to do pre-evangelism for them."
For all the fear of post-Christian postmodernity, if it’s shaping a generation that has to defend and embrace what they believe and why, is this not something we can get excited about?
Barna research on practicing Christians and the Bible is similarly enlightening. Here’s how they summarize recent findings:
“Active young Christians are holding true to historical and orthodox views on the Bible. In many ways, their commitment to the Bible stands in stark contrast to typical stereotypes of younger Christians.”
It would be blind, of course, to ignore the fact that many Millennials haven’t had the Biblical and theological training in church they would like. I was talking to a church leader the other day who was discouraged with the Biblical illiteracy of some of this generation. There’s work to be done.
But that shouldn’t take away from what appears to be an instinctive desire for a whole-Gospel approach to life, and a search for the full breadth of our faith. One way we can see this is in a potential shift in music, characterized for example by this collaboration between Fuller Seminary, Eugene Peterson, and Bono encouraging a less white-washed approach- not just a celebration of our faith in what we sing corporately, but also recognition of the discouragement, fears, and confessions of our humanity (think David in the Psalms).
P.S. Reading through hymnals I find this balance a historical one, and really refreshing.
The other two pieces are on their way throughout the next few days – stay tuned!
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