Thank you to Cody Wright who lent His writing talents to this post. Cody Wright is the LifeGroups coordinator of Bridge42 Church. He is a husband, father, and a card-carrying member of the millennial generation (literally, he has a drivers license card in his wallet that says he was born in 1987). Above all, Cody is a seeker of truth and a follower of Jesus.
I am entrenched in information.
I own multiple devices, all designed to better “connect” me with information, people, places, and things. Every word I post to the interwebs is analyzed, shredded, and consumed by covert and overt marketing conglomerates, then fed back to me by way of a clever ad tailored to my specific preferences. I am spoon-fed with marketing on things that I want, used to want, or will want. Truthfully? Sometimes I don’t know what I want; Google got to it first, and now I’m skeptical.
We are over marketed, and therefore hyper-sensitive to manipulation. We are drowning in social media and understand (perhaps better than the Pharisees) the meaning of hypocritical. Our Fathers repeated the mantra, “Do as I say, not as I do,” one too many times, and we, therefore, question the very bones of reality. We hear Pilate say, “what is truth?”, and can’t help but raise a militant fist into the air, championing the statement as a legitimate question.
We have seen the hypocrites that have walked before us, experienced the pseudo communities of Facebook among us, and have digested a sickening amount of personalized marketing served to us. My generation is sick, and some of them cannot see it. There’s a pill for that, the advertisements say.
Fake News … Manipulating ads … Hypocrites.
What Gen Xers had with AOL and the infant-stages of the information age, the Millennials have a thousand-fold. Not only, but we have it quicker and more accessible.
Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE having information at my fingertips. It’s awesome to speak to my devices and ask a legitimate question and get a relatively sound answer. I have learned to do many things thanks to “how to” Youtube channels, and an insatiable desire to gain more skills. If I want to know more about how to sharpen a chainsaw, grow my own food, know when the sun will rise (precise times), or the best place to eat in downtown Syracuse … I’ve got multiple sources of information in the matter of milliseconds.
Also, if I want to know more about the times of Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ), I’ve got it. If I want to know more about the early New Testament Church, it’s there. Not just one source, but thousands. Do you see where I am going with this?
Your Millennial friends may not be uneducated, but too educated. They might already know enough about what Church is supposed to be that when they encounter you, they see a train-wreck of manipulation and advertisements. We have had enough of counterfeit communities, processed foods, and manipulation. Don’t try to manipulate us to come to your church either. It’s just another cleverly marketed product you want us to buy.
“What is truth?”
We want what is real. We want the “1+1=2” in life. We are learning to look beyond the deceitfulness of the world, peeling back the trash, layer by layer, discovering that if we do so, eventually we will find what is pure, original, untainted, and genuine. Not all Millennials know that society is messed up, but we all have a surreal sense that things are … fake.
So, what do you long for in a world characterized as manipulative? Naturally, you want what is real. Remember, all my devices are made to keep me “connected” to all things. This “connection” is a shadow of what we think might be real, but again “what is truth?”
Millennials want to be connected, want to discover truth, want to be a part of a greater community. Some of us have discovered what Church is supposed to be, and if you don’t match up to the original design, you are going to have a hard time getting us to buy your product; in fact, you won’t get us to buy something we have plenty of. Don’t try to sell us on your Church: be Church. Genuinely connect with us. We aren’t going to fill a pew. If that’s what you want, look to the Baby-Boomers and Gen Xers. Millennials are going to become adamant Citizens in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Millennials no longer want what is shiny and new. We want what is ancient, old, and what is true. We are looking for Yeshua Messiah, not some counterfeit Christ.
We want Community.