- Stop assuming we want you to adapt for us. The church has assumed things like we don’t want to sing hymns and that we prefer smoke and lights and a band that performs like we’re attending a concert. Actually, I think some of the most powerful lyrics are in old hymns, smoke machines make my eyes dry, and my favorite type of music is acoustic or a cappella. Not that I want every worship service that way, but hopefully you’re understanding my point. You are making these assumptions based on what facts? Has anyone actually asked? Really, if you study the “secret” churches that are spreading like wildfire in other countries where Christianity is illegal, they’re obviously not growing because of their worship set. It’s because at the heart of it all is Jesus. I think there’s this addictive simplicity without all of the extra distractions. Those people, though they can’t have all the fancy additives and luxuries of the American church, they’re really getting Jesus. And they’re coming to church for all the right reasons because of it. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things at their core, as long as their core is Jesus. None of these things bother me when they’re done right, but the key is the motivation behind doing them. Is it to bring people in and emotionally lift them up, or bring people in and spiritually invite God to come down?
Solution: Ask yourself, “For what purpose are we doing this?” If your answer is to “appeal” to a younger generation vs. bringing a younger generation closer to Jesus, then you’re probably not on the right track. Sometimes, the two coincide. But sometimes, they don’t. Worship is just one example of this.
- We don’t all have to be married or dating someone. This is probably the single (no pun intended;)) most predominant theme in a young adult’s world. For almost all of us, this is when we’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of Mr. or Mrs. Right. Please hear me out – We’re all at different places in this journey and God writes each of our stories differently. Our value is not rooted in our relationship status. Yes, who you marry is the most significant choice you will make besides accepting Jesus and it is by far one of the most exciting seasons of life. But marriage is not the ultimate source of joy. Jesus is. When the third question you ask someone after meeting them is, “So, are you dating anyone?”, you have created this sense of inadequacy by implying an expectation that hasn’t been met. It’s isolating enough that most churches have a specific and significant ministry for students and young families, but nothing for those in between. Do you know what this communicates to us? You’re not worth the time and resources of investing in because your season of life isn’t important.
Solution: Be intentional. There’s a certain strength and confidence that is found in being single. There’s an element to ourselves and our relationship with God that is found during our single years and it is beautiful. Tell us to embrace this. Our lives don’t begin when our marriages do. It’s not healthy to be desperate for a significant other. Please don’t make us feel like we should be or that we’re less than because we don’t have one. If you do not already have one in place, develop a way for young adults to get connected to each other, be mentored by someone further along in their walk, and given the opportunity to pour out as they serve.
- Selfishness. Millennials, more than any other generation, want to make a difference in this world. We want to work for causes, not money. Churches can be so inwardly focused. We get it, at the end of the day there has to be a system with organization. But I think sometimes we get so caught up in the processes we miss the opportunities we’re actually called to act upon. To be honest, we don’t really care what the building looks like (again with the assumptions…), I want to know what you’re doing to change the community. If we have a huge, nicely paved parking lot but we’re not ministering to the broken and needy, what are we doing? I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t have spent the widows’ coins on a parking lot. And she probably didn’t give all she had for that cause, either. (Again, don’t miss my point here. There’s nothing wrong with a new parking lot and I know there are special designated funds. But let’s please be the very best stewards of what the Lord entrusts to us and make sure our priorities are those of eternal significance.)
Solution: Stop investing so much into yourself and go out and partner with other ministries being the hands and feet of Christ in the community. There are already so many well established, Christ-centered ministries bringing people to Jesus. Work together as the Body of Christ instead of being so prideful you only do your own thing.