Notice that I did not say, “What Millennials Want From The Church.” I may want a thick slice of chocolate cake for breakfast every morning, but that does not mean you should give it to me.
In the same way, I believe we millennials often think we want “chocolate cake” when, in reality, there is only one food that can nourish our souls. Even if we plead for a temporary solution, please love us enough to give us the only thing that will fully satisfy us.
Bring us, first and foremost, to God Himself.
I don’t mean a watered-down, softy version of God. I don’t mean the kind of “god” who hugs us in our mess and assures our broken selves that he loves us no matter what. I don’t mean the kind of “god” who just wants everyone to accept each other and get along. I don’t mean the “god” who couldn’t imagine sending a “decent” human being to hell just because that person slipped up a few times.
Don’t get me wrong—God’s love does reach into our messes with infinite tenderness, but it does much more than that. His love frees us, restores us, and sustains us. That Mighty Warrior and God who is jealous for our full redemption is quite a different picture from a kindly old man patting us on the head as we sob at our irreconcilable state.
The church, sadly, has allowed lies to temper our view of God. Don’t allow room for those lies, in the church or in our lives.
Teach us that God is eternal (Deut. 33:27). Teach us that God cannot lie (Tit. 1:2). Teach us that God cannot change (Mal. 3:6). Teach us that God has revealed Himself to us through His Word (Rom. 16:25-27). Teach us that because God cannot lie and God cannot change, we can believe everything Scripture declares about Him. These simple concepts have massive and powerfully practical implications for our lives.
Good worship music, fellowship at potluck dinners, and outreach projects are all valuable. But if we don’t have a personal relationship with God and a deep understanding of Who He really is, our spiritualized busyness means nothing.
Now that have caught a vision for the glorious King who is worthy of all our praise, we are ready for the Gospel.
And I don’t mean the say-the-sinner’s-prayer-and-you’ll-go-to-heaven gospel.
I mean the Gospel that makes dead men live.
I mean the Gospel that costs everything because it is worth everything.
I mean the Gospel that drives us to our knees in utter surrender to the Holy God because we realize how utterly unholy and rebellious we are.
In order to recognize our blatant rebellion against God, you’ll have to give us some hard truth. You’ll have to tell us that not only is God pure love; you’ll have to tell us that we cannot truly love on our own.
Conviction—the gift of the Holy Spirit to show us our true nature and where we do not align with God’s pattern—will hurt. It may even hurt enough that we become angry and attack you personally. Please love us enough to realize that we’re not fighting you; we’re fighting God. Keep loving us and giving us truth.
We will never experience fullness of life until someone quits propping up a fake self-esteem based on how wonderful we supposedly are—when all the while we know that there is a gaping emptiness inside us.
The Gospel is not about believing orthodox doctrine. It’s about knowing God (Jn. 17:3), exchanging our lives for His life (Gal. 2:20), and being filled and empowered by the Spirit of God Himself (Eph. 3:17-19).
And when we truly are born again—when our old selves are dead and we are raised to new life (Rom. 6:3-6)—then challenge us to walk worthy of the high calling we have received (1 Thess. 2:12) instead of settling for Christianese mediocrity.
I, for one, don’t want anything less!
Finally, pray for us.
Do you see my generation going downhill? Do you see the rampant immorality? The increasing suicide rates and atheism? The spirit of hopelessness?
Then get on your knees and pray.
Church, your battle for millennials isn’t against flesh and blood. It is against “principalities,” “powers,” “the rulers of the darkness of this world,” and “against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). Prayer is the mighty weapon that Christians have been given to defeat the enemy. Prayer unleashes the power of God to do what we cannot do on our own.
And I don’t mean wimpy prayers. I mean prayer that lays a hold of the nature of God and cries out on His promises for Him to prevail. He has promised; shall He not perform (Rom. 4:21; Num. 23:19)? He is God over all; is His arm shortened (Isa. 59:1)?
Ask for a spirit of prayer for the things that burden God’s heart. As a father, He delights to answer our cries.
Where human strength fails, prayer prevails.
Millennials may want a hip youth or young adult pastor or a trendy, coffee-house-style worship area. But those are not the focus of Christ’s message, and they are not what we really need.
We need Jesus. We need the undiluted power of the Gospel. We need God’s power through prayer to open our eyes and bring Life.
And we need you, the church, to walk alongside us in loving and truthful humility as we seek Christ. When we see Jesus in you—when we see you living an outward, selfless, Spirit-empowered life—the beauty of God in you will cause us to long for God.
Will you, the Church of the Living God, choose to selflessly love us and point us toward God?
It just could make an eternal impact on my generation.