Bashing Millennials has become a favorite pastime. Just today I was scrolling social media and came across an ad for a “dry bar comic.” His entire 5 minute mini-routine consisted of making fun of the generation born between the early 1980’s and the late 1990’s.
I know why Millennials are the generation everyone seems to love to hate. But instead of joining in, I want to give you 3 reasons I am excited about Millennials.
MILLENNIALS ARE CAUSE-DRIVEN.
Like no other generation, these individuals want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to lend their energy toward something that matters. They don’t tend to be materialistic in the same sense as we’ve known it in the past. Money is a means to an end, not the goal.
Some of the causes Millennials are attaching themselves to are morally skewed. Other causes are so obscure you end up scratching your head (ban on the humiliation of plants; lobster empathy to name two). We need to see Millennials not through the lenses of the specific causes they are getting caught up in, but see them as willing to sacrifice for something they believe in. It is amazing to me the lengths some Millennials will go to forward a cause they have truly embraced. While some of the causes themselves are ones I disagree with or worse, looking at their dedication makes me want to see what these Millennials would do en masse if they would trust Christ!
A born-again Christian Millennial who abandons himself or herself to the cause of Christ is an amazing sight. I’m seeing a resurgence of dedicated – painfully, wholly dedicated – young adults serving Christ in ways I would find extremely difficult. They are serving in fields that many think are impossible and with a vigor I don’t seem to remember ever having.That’s the potential of a Millennial.
MILLENNIALS THINK DIFFERENTLY.
There aren’t boxes in the minds of this generation. They are the first generation to grow up completely in the digital age. (My generation is technically Gen X, but I’m actually part of a sub-group born between 1977 and 1983 called the Xennials. See an explanation here: http://www.konbini.com/us/entertainment/xennials-generation-between-x-millennials/ Basically, we grew up analog but came of age during the digital transformation.)
Millennials don’t know the limitations of the analog days. They don’t think in linear terms. Someone like me? I can understand some of that thinking, but I still think like a video tape, a cassette tape, or even a CD. I think from start – middle – ending. That’s linear. A Millennial can think in ways I can’t write about because the very act of writing is a linear act. They can think of an entire project all at the same time, conceptualizing with ease that prior generations can’t understand. Maybe that’s why they seem unfocused sometimes.
They can help us think outside the proverbial box when it comes to many areas, but especially about doing ministry. Some of the coolest (I can’t think of a better word!) new ideas of ministry are coming from Millennials. Sure, the ideas aren’t always perfect, but what idea is at first?
I’M CHOOSING TO CHANGE MY OUTLOOK.
I don’t think I’ve ever publicly criticized Millennials from the pulpit. But I have to admit that I’ve occasionally joined the stereotyping inwardly, if not outwardly. I’ve had to ask myself how that helps the cause of Christ.
It doesn’t. We can’t choose the characteristics of the generation following us. Every generation has its strengths and weaknesses. Gen X was highly criticized as being “latchkey” and “dropouts.” The Boomers before us had their own set of issues. It really isn’t doing much good anymore to focus on the stereotypical problems. Maybe it’s time to realize they are the future and do as much as we can to be real, honest, and invest in them. They are already starting to pastor our churches, head to the mission fields, write the new music, and are halfway done raising the next generation, Generation Z.
Maybe you don’t consider my third reason a true reason, but I do. I’m choosing to find those who are faithful and pass on whatever I can, just like the previous generation did for me. And maybe if we would all do that, we’ll just discover that we happen to serve the same God Who can take any member of any generation and transform them to touch the world.