Who are the millennials
The term millennial is used to describe the generation of people born between the years 1980 and 2000 roughly. This generation is also known as Generation Y, Generation Next, and Net Generation. Characteristics of this generation are generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies.
The rise of instant communication technologies made possible through use of the internet, such as email, texting, and IM and new media used through websites like YouTube and social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, may explain the Millennials’ reputation for being somewhat peer-oriented due to easier facilitation of communication through technology. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Y)
The culture of the millennial generation is highly immersed in technology. Especially, computing technology and the internet. Making way for the social networking phenomenon, this generations crave for instant communication with friends and peers changed the direction of the internet from a business only purpose to a collaborative, multi-functional program. This instant communication with peers has changed the culture from a “what do I want to do” as characterised with the generation X to a “what do we want to do”. For many decisions, this generation relies more on their peers to help guide them in their decision making process than past generations.
The majority of millennials are culturally liberal, supporting such issues as same-sex marriage, abortion, stem-cell research and the like, while also focusing more on career and success to the point of delaying “adult behaviors” such as starting a family, raising children, future planning, etc. Yet this generation about many things do not know what they believe, want, or desire. This of course does not portray all of this generation, as I am a millennial, born in 1981, and do not hold to these views.
Millennials and their religious connection
Millennials know a lot about religion, yet they have little engagement with religiosity and movements of spirituality. As you can see by the chart above, this generation has a very limited connection with church and does not think it important or even worthy of their time.
“The Spirit of Generation Y”, a 2006 Australian study conducted by Monash University, the Australian Catholic University, and the Christian Research Association was taken of 1619 people. The results show 48% of Generation Y believe in a God, while 20% do not, and 32% are unsure if God exists. (taken from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Y)
According to a 2006 Australian study, less than half of millennials believe in any God. So, with millennials, religious tradition and the religion of their parents does not necessitate their belief in a God. Religion in general is not relevant.
Therefore, church of any kind holds no value or meaning and is seen often as a waste of time. Much of this is due to the fact this generation is a generation of action and not just talk. Millennials want to be a part of something that is making an impact in the world that they live in. Thom Rainer, President of LifeWay, says that “Millennials don’t see the American church making a significant impact in the world, and are thus indifferent to the church.”
Millennials and Jesus Christ
Though millennials know a lot about Jesus Christ, they have very little experience with genuine Christianity. Most can tell you about Jesus: who He was and is, what He gives and offers, what He does and even can quote some of what He said; yet they have not KNOWN or have SEEN Jesus. A sad statistic is that only 31% of this generation believes that Jesus is the only way to salvation.
Knowledge without relationship does not provide that blessed assurance of eternal security. Interesting to note that with millenials relationship is noted as a high priority in general yet this does not spill over into the area of religion. However, the truth remains that the only way to eternal life in Glory is through Jesus Christ. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Reaching the millennial generation
The millennial generation may in fact be the most difficult generation to reach for the cause of Christ.
Thom Rainer suggests these five trends will face the American church as the millenial generation continues to rise:
1. Our nation will see the emergence of the largest generational mission field in more than a century.
The Millennial Generation, those born between 1980 and 2000, will have a very low Christian representation. it is estimated that only 15 percent are Christian. With a population of nearly 80 million, that means that nearly 70 million are NOT Christian.
2. The dominant attitude of the Millennials toward Christianity will be largely indifferent.
Only 13 percent of this group rank any type of spiritual matter as important to their lives. They are not angry at churches or Christians. They simply ignore Christians because they do not deem them as meaningful or relevant.
3. Senior adult ministries in churches will experience steep declines.
As the Baby Boomer Generation moves into their older years, they will resist any suggestion that they are senior adults, no matter how senior they may be. Since many churches are generally slow to adapt to new realities or change, if they do senior adult ministry the way they have always done it, they will be headed for failure.
4. The Baby Boomer Generation will become more receptive to the Gospel.
Research seems to indicate that Baby Boomers will actually become more interested in spiritual matters in general and Christianity specifically. The Baby Boomers have tried it all and found no joy. They may likely turn to the HOPE of the Gospel.
5. Family will be a key value for both of these (Boomers and Millennials) generations.
For Millennials, family is their most important value. Nearly eight out of ten ranked family as the important issue of their lives. They indicated that they had healthy relationships with their parents, who for the most part, are Baby Boomers. Churches that reach both of these generations will make significant changes to become the type of churches that foster healthy family relationships.
But I still believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross and rose victoriously over death, hell, and the grave for all generations. Gods mercy is still covering over . Millennials still longing for hope and a faith worth living for can find it in Christ Jesus. The church must not give up. This generation is not a lost cause.