If I never hear the word “Millennials” again, it’ll be too soon. The discussions surrounding this generation have gotten out of control. From the Gen Xers and Boomers that want to blame “entitled” Millennials for all of society’s problems to the churches wringing their hands because Millennials won’t get with the program, it’s just too much.
So why would I write a book about Millennials?
I do a lot of contract work, and I’ve been tasked to write quite a bit about Millennials. I’m pretty sure I’ve read every article and blog post about Millennials on the internet. (A test of endurance that I wouldn’t inflict on anyone.)
It’s interesting to me—as a Gen Xer surrounded almost entirely by Millennials—that most of the time I don’t recognize the demographic these articles are talking about.
What I’ve come to recognize is that the church is focused on the wrong objective. It’s true that Millennials are losing interest in the church, but the problem isn’t Millennials—and it’s not entirely the church either.
The truth is that we’re at the beginning of a huge cultural shift, one that’s likely going to be as dramatic as the difference between the middle and modern ages. It’s just that the Millennials represent the first generation to come to adulthood in the midst of this upheaval. They don’t have context for how things “used to be.” They’re not mired in all the cultural baggage that older generations have to navigate.
Instead of trying to figure out how to appeal to Millennials, the church needs to see them as signposts pointing toward the future. Things are changing. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the church becomes completely unrecognizable in the next 25 years.
Prepping for change
In the end, churches are going to need to start asking some tough questions—questions about things they might have previously considered to be permanently resolved:
- Are we willing to reimagine who we are and how we function?
- Have we truly put enough focus into creating Christians who follow Jesus?
- If helping people become followers of Jesus means sacrificing a tradition or practice we really enjoy, are we willing to do it?
- Are there ways we can broaden our understanding and practice of leadership so that it’s more inclusive?
- Are there things we could do that will help us increase the congregation’s sense of ownership and involvement?
- What innovative ways could we start reaching out to our community today?
If you really think about it, there are very few things that the church can’t budge on. Everything else should be open for discussion. This means it’s time to look at whether there needs to be a sermon every Sunday morning, or even if the weekly Sunday meeting should be the central focus of the church’s life. Is it possible that we should make small groups the center of our ministry and church-wide meetings become celebrations of the ministries occurring in our homes?
We need to take an honest look at how we’re using our resources. Are they going to support a growing infrastructure of staff and facilities, or can we find ways to invest more and more of it into our cities? Is it time to serve our communities by finding ways for other programs and organizations to use our facilities?
What about our worship services? Is it time to rethink what worship looks like in our churches? Is it possible that we can find more transcendent ways to worship? Can we find ways to make prayer a more central part of our gatherings?
Future-Proofing the Church
I decided that I wanted to explore this concept, which led me to writeFuture-Proofing the Church. At a little under 8,500 words, it’s shorter, like reading a handful of longer blog posts. The brevity is intentional—as is the low $.99 cent price point.
I’m really more interested in the conversations that need to start occurring around these changes. So, I decided to release it in a series of smaller books on Amazon where we could begin a dialogue, and that discussion can help inform the next books.
In Future-Proofing the Church, I look at the ways Millennials are being used as scapegoats for the unrest and anxiety we feel about this cultural evolution. Then I take a high-level look at Millennial attitudes about work in order to suss out the societal changes that are occurring, and apply those attitudes to the church.
I’ve started a Facebook group entitled Creative Ministry Co-op, where future-minded believers can start talking about where we think the church might be going—and how we can get there.
In the future, I hope to be adding more Future-proofing books that delve deeper into the future of:
- Christian community
- Biblical Understanding
It’s an issue of wrestling with what the church keeps, and what we’re willing to leave behind. I look forward to discussing ways the church can intuit these changes and become “early adopters.” Can you imagine what would happen if the church helped to usher in change instead of fighting tooth and nail to hold on to obsolete traditions and practices?
If you’ve already picked up a copy, thank you! It would mean a lot to me if you left a review (unless you hated it, in which case don’t worry about it).