Meet Your Millennials
"We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against. We want to ask questions that don't have predetermined answers....We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness...to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers. You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there. Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus."- Rachel Held Evans
Who's the "We" in that declaration? It's the Millennial Generation, as described by author and blogger Rachel Held Evans in her opinion piece to CNN. It's the generation born between 1977 and 1995—the crowd entering adulthood upon the turn of the millennium. At 80 million strong, this generation ranks as the largest generational group today, and makes up roughly 25% of the U.S. population.
Generally speaking, Pew Research describes Millennials as "confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change." And they're less religious.
In some cases, that means they've left the church altogether, becoming a part of the "nones" who claim no faith or religious affiliation. And in other cases, that means they've become disillusioned by organized religion.
In his book, You Lost Me, David Kinnaman believes Millennials fall into three segments, or three types of spiritual journeys. There are Nomads, who leave behind their church engagements but would still call themselves Christ followers. Then there are Prodigals, who have lost their faith. And finally, there are Exiles, who remain engaged in their church community but struggle to find a place within it.
This last group—the Exiles—may be filling your seats on Sunday mornings—bringing with them much different views and expectations than previous generations. How well do you know these Millennials in your church? How well do you know the ones outside your church and in your community? How are you engaging them? How are you talking with them? How are you listening?
At this year's Alignment Conference, we plan to uncover some of these answers for you. We've compiled a collection of great speakers, including Kinnaman and findings from his new study "Millennials and Architecture," who are all anxious to share more about this unique segment of your congregations. You'll find out how Millennials are affecting your church's culture and impacting your ministries.