Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXXVIII
The current church leadership style of being built on pyramidal titles, positions, and professions can be a challenge to Millennials who are looking for linear relationships built on peer acceptance as equals. Millennials are not impressed with pyramidal leadership that has built organizations and institutions but are not effective in developing meaningful, intimate relationships as peers.
The perks of a pyramidal structure as a chance for advancement, providing a good health care plan or a secure retirement system are not as appealing to Millennials as finding relationships who will stand beside you, defend you, lead you, and walk out life with you personally. Why should they trust a Health Care System they are financing, a burdensome pension system they are paying for, and a Higher Education System that places them in deep debt without the promise of a job, or a banking system that pays them no interest on their savings but massive interest rates on using credit cards? When they come to church, why would they not be skeptical of yet another pyramidal scheme? They always lose! Is church just another institution that they have to finance? The pyramidal system benefits those on top at the expense of those below them. The investors are more important than the workers. Millennials are looking for meaningful relationships that will benefit them, not just being the base of a system financing the top.
Millennials are also facing an ethical and moral clash with older generations. Millennials are just trying to survive economically; so living with a roommate of another sex to pay the rent is no big deal. They aren’t looking for formal commitments, just the need to be “accepted”. Being “in a relationship” is important to a Millennial, but not necessarily a marriage relationship. Millennials are being conditioned to take care of themselves, since pyramidal institutions will not take care of them. It is more important to a Millennial to complete high school, get a college education, even if it puts them deep in debt, so they can get a well paying job, and establish a career before thinking of having children, a family, or getting married. Since they aren’t committing to marriage until later, they are sexually active longer as singles, which has produce a generation filled with single mothers, unwed couples, and dead-beat dads.
Before previous generations throw stones at Millennials, I ask, “Why would they embrace marriage when there are more divorces than successful marriages among their parents and peers?” Marriage looks like another institution that has failed them! To them birthing children does not equate to forced “shot gun” marriages, nor does having children outside marriage carry the same negative stigma it once had. The Puritanical days of having a “bastard” child as in The Scarlet Letter is history. Amazingly, the unchurched Millennial is not as judgmental about each other as their churched parents and grandparents are.
If secular and religious institutions have failed Millennials, what does the church have to do to draw them back into its fold? Answer: Accept them for whom they are, where they are unconditionally. Jesus always used unconditional love and grace, not the religious Law. They are looking for genuine relationships, not superficial structures. They are looking for people to walk beside them, not lord over them.
Millennials are looking for someone who is willing to step up, step forward, step beside them through loving relationships of service to fulfill Mathew 15:35-40:
“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”
Secular institutions have not fulfilled Mellennial’s needs; they have failed them. It is time for the Church, not as an institution but through personal relationships, to step up and serve, accept, win them to Jesus, and equip, nurture, and care for them in an effort to mature them into the image and fullness of Jesus Christ! That is the mission of the Ephesians 4 Church!