This article caught my attention because it wasn’t bashing millennials for a change. Nor was the author crying that the end of evangelicalism is near due to the decline of millennials attending church services.
Mike Breen, who I quote from a lot on this blog and on my podcast and whose Lifeshapes I borrow heavily in my discipleship and teaching on making disciples, hits the ball out of the park. He posted this post on Tuesday after reading survey data and books by Christian Smith, who works with the National Study of Youth and Religion,
The survey reveals both troubling and hopeful elements in the spiritual landscape of young America. We’ve all probably heard some of the areas for concern but I want to concentrate on what I see as some of the elements in the data that make me hopeful, because as I’ve engaged with the material I’ve been driven to ask whether God is preparing the ground for a spiritual awakening among the Millennials.
As a millennial myself, I could tell you “of course God is!”, but read on:
‘Do good. Be happy. God exists – but he’s not very involved’. That’s the millennial worldview. (Smith and Lundquist Denton – Soul Searching)
As missionaries to our culture, it’s important to understand the worldviews with which we are engaging. Understanding them will tell us:
(a) where the common ground for communication can be found
(b) where the intellectual and psychological inconsistencies that leaves space for the sharing of the gospel can be found. This space is what I call the ‘Gospel Gap’ – the place in a persons (or groups) worldview that leads them to frustration, sadness or hurt – in other words bad news that the Good News can directly address.
Breen goes on to elaborate examples of how we can find the common ground and bridge the Gospel gap in his article, but in light of recent postings of mine about the “dones” [those no longer fellowshipping within the walls of an institutional or organized church, but who consider themselves as strong as ever in their Christian faith], I found this nugget to be an encouraging confirmation that millennials leaving the church is not really the problem many have supposed it is,
Diminishing numbers of young Americans go to church, but more of them are praying! (Smith and Snell – Souls in Transition).
And apparently millennials don’t distrust the Word of God nearly as much as many have thought,
Finally and most shockingly, when asked ‘Do you believe the bible is the literal word of God?’ (surveys words not mine) around 80% say yes! I know it’s astonishing but that’s what the data incontrovertibly says. Millennials want to know the Bible want to understand and believe it is authoritative.
Mike Breen goes on to conclude the following,
So if we were to put it all together, the last time in history that many people were Deists, believing in a loving but remote God was in the 18th century. Then like now committed Christians could assume that most people respected the authority of Scripture and believed in the importance of prayer. But in the 18th century God sent a spiritual awakening of such vast proportions that the trajectory of world history changed!
Through the Great Awakening and its continuing effects generations later, countless millions of lives were transformed, churches planted, institutions established and society was changed forever, benefiting the entire world.
So, if that happened then, why not now?
To me there appears to be a convergence in the rise of the Missional movement and the influences within the millennial generation. To me the conditions seem to be ripening for a new spiritual awakening in America.
I realize that many do not see this and perhaps I’m mistaken. But what if the problem is a lack of vision rather than a lack of possibility.
I agree. And such thoughts get my juices flowing!
I appreciated reading this post, and encourage you to head over to Mike Breen’s blog to read the entire article in its context.
In my twenties I heard over and over again that I was part of a “special generation”, and “born for such a time as this.” Then in my late twenties that started to sour into hearing constantly about everything that’s wrong with what has now come to be dubbed the “millennial generation”, and I’ve explored some of these frustrations and observations before on this blog.
But what gives me hope about these kinds of blog posts by people like Breen is that not all the “data” or facts need to represent negative information.
They could be showing something encouraging.
The original post by Mike Breen appeared on May 19th, 2015 on the Discipling Culture Blog.