Our dog is 4 years old. And if the saying is true that one year in human years is seven in dog years, then that makes Strawberry (our dog) 28. She’s very laid back. Strawberry flops down on the ground and is passive with the kiddos. She doesn’t do much when she doesn’t want to.
And yet she can also get excited about things. She gets excited when we begin to play with her–to a point. We can’t get her to play fetch worth nothing. She just doesn’t want to do it. It doesn’t interest her and so she doesn’t want to do it. She just looks at the ball as it goes. Yes, we can get her excited for a moment but then she looses interest. She gets excited about her walks though. She gets excited for her walks though. Mainly because they benefit her. You can even say it’s a bit selfish. Strawberry wants to go for a walk because it benefits her. And she and I have a struggle going on about who is in control. I’m the one who is leading her, not she. Yet she still pulls hard on the leash wanting to set the stride.
By all the blogs I’ve been reading, the discussions I’ve been hearing about in church circles, this makes her a Millennial. Millennials are those young adults (sorry, I shudder at that term, they are adults) who are in their 20’s and 30’s. They are the ones who are the recent college grads to the working professionals who are just entering the workforce or have so in the last few years. Or at least tried. Many have moved back home. Many are struggling to make ends meet due to student loans and a bad economy.
They are also the ones said to be leaving the church in droves. Millennials are misunderstood, maybe. They are the ones that experts are trying to figure out. As an Xer (Generation X) I’m a bit confused. Not many people have spent oodles of money to figure us out. We were called slackers in the 90’s and ignored in the Aughts. We were the ones who despite a bad monicker worked hard and tried to do our best despite our boomer parents.
Xer parents were the early Baby Boomers where as many of the Millennials are the children of the later Boomers. In one blog post, the author stated that the Millennials are leaving because they were failed. By whom? He doesn’t say. He just says the pop evangelical church failed. And who created the pop evangelical church? Mainly the Boomers. Not the Xers. The Xers did their best to do what was right. And yet they still haven’t been given much leadership responsibilities. Boomers don’t fully want to let go.
I’ve had arguments with my mom about this. She’s a Boomer who feels the church failed her. Much like the Millennial blog author who feels that the church failed the Millennials. But what about the Xers? The church seems to have ignored us to a point.
Now I want to back up. One thing I like about my church today and my previous charge is that both Millennials, Boomes and, yes, even Xers worked side by side in leadership. They worked together, learned from one another and moved forward together.
My dog’s not a Millennial. She’s a dog. And does what dogs do.
But what about Boomers, Millennials and Xers?
Boomers felt disenfranchised in the 60’s and 70’s and started their own churches. Xers felt ignored and insulted in the 90’s and didn’t do much. No new Willow Creek was started. No Saddleback was started in the 90’s. And yet, now, churches are springing up trying to reach the Millennials. Studies are happening trying to figure out Millennials. We talk about helicopter parents who hovered over their children not letting them go and thus we have Millennials. Are we doing the same thing just on a larger academic scale?
I think what the previously mentioned blogger said is right. We need to give a stronger foundation to what the church is. Not just a pop evangelical type of church but a true solid church. Give a strong foundation. The Boomers were good at what Bill Hybles calls Christ-followers but not really in making disciples. They themselves figured this out and created the series Reveal to help other churches make disciples not just Christ-followers.
What should we do then? Make disciples. Take time to invest not just hover. Take time to help mentor not just collect data. We can collect data until we’re blue in the face. But if we don’t do anything about it, then we’re just collecting data. We need to invest and mentor and make leaders out of not just Millennials but Xers and Boomers even. There are many Boomers who have left the church and haven’t come back. There are many Xers who have left the church and haven’t come back. And there are many Millennials who have left the church and haven’t come back. And the reasons why? They are all the same reasons.
So, let’s get back to being the church. Let’s not try to get all that data in the way of making disciples. Let’s not just focus on one age group when many are still not in the church. Let’s work together to reach all for Christ, not just one group. Otherwise we’d just be reaching for those who are like my dog. And that’s not good. She’s a dog. She’s not a people. Let’s reach people and be fishers of men.