Pastor’s Ponderings – March 2018

Pastor’s Ponderings – March 2018

“Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready, my God, Thy will to see; Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit Divine!”

By Clara H. Scott, 1895

A few weeks ago, I attended an all-day Saturday training on reaching and connecting with Millennials through social media. Christians are called to have eyes of grace and kindness. We are called to BE like Jesus in our life and LISTEN to him. That’s a tall order as one of my Texas family might say. Being more like Jesus means welcoming and getting to know folks who aren’t like us. To some, the Millennial generation seem like people from a different planet, but really they are our friends, children, and grandchildren. How do we connect with them?

In the modern Christian church a generation usually referred to as The Millennial generation is largely missing. This generation were born between 1980 and 2000, which means they are 38 – 18 years old. According to 2015 census data, there are 75.4 million people in this cohort, which makes them a larger generation than the Baby Boomer generation. (As of 2015 there were 74.9 million Baby Boomers, 66 million Gen-X and 28 million of the Silent Generation.)

The Millennials are the rst generation born into a digital world. They don’t know a world without cell phones, lap top computers, and social media. Ask a Millennial and they will tell you their parents have a landline, but they don’t. They are carrying 1 trillion dollars in student loan debt and over 63% of Gen-Y (the other name for Millennials) have a bachelor’s degree. 48% work in a job that doesn’t require a degree.

63% say they’d rather make $40,000 a year in a job they love rather than $100,000 in a job they think is boring. 74% want a ex work schedule and 50% say they don’t believe there will be any social security when they retire. 70% have ‘friended’ their manager or co-worker on Facebook. 56% won’t work at a company that bans social media at work. And Millennials are a profoundly racially diverse generation, and also known for their tolerance toward different races, and sexual orientations.

But here is the challenge we have….Millennials are generally not coming to church. It is not that they don’t like Jesus, it is that they aren’t impressed with ‘so-called’ Christians. Millennials say church people don’t listen to them, they are sick of mission statements and they think we spend more time talking ABOUT the poor rather than doing anything to Help the poor. They believe Christians are hypocritical, judgmental and are anti-gay. They think churches spend too much time blaming culture and too little time doing anything about the troubles of the world. They want to be Mentored, NOT Preached at or Lectured.

Millennials have gotten a bad rap as they’ve grown up and many stereotype them as lazy, entitled, spoiled and always expecting a trophy. Yes, this generation, born into a world of privilege that is very different than any other generation, I believe are a force for change and inspiration! The Millennials are passionate about climate change and eco-stewardship, terrorism, and nancial responsibility. 80% of them are active in their community doing volunteer work! That’s right…from conservation to politics to children’s activities, this group is on the move!

The interests and world concerns of Millennials line up with the values and concerns in the United Methodist church and yet, we have failed to see, welcome and engage with this generation. Is it too late to begin a fresh relationship of collaboration and mutual learning? I HOPE not! I think we are called to be with this generation and offer them leadership skills, and encouragement. I believe we can learn new ways of doing ministry and engaging the community. This is more than a call to change a song or style of music, this is a call to develop new eyes to see younger people as gifted and blessed by God, with strengths all their own.

There are tons of resources on generations and the differences between them. One book recommended to me is called Sticking Points, by Haydn Shaw (no relation), copyright 2013. Or google ‘Millennials’ and just start reading. Or better yet, nd a Millennial and ask them to tell you what they think about anything. Chances are they will have an opinion and information to back it up.

Grace and peace,
Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann Shaw

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