scratching the millenial itch

IMG_8956Ask a Gen Xer or a Baby Boomer what he thinks of a Millennial—a person born between 1984 and 2002—and the response is usually the same: Coddled by their parents. Slow to adulthood. Avoiders of conflict. At ease with racial, ethnic and sexual diversity. Quick to cut ties with the Church after leaving home. The response from the Millennial isn’t much better: “Yeah. So?”

But I think the Church can do better. That’s why I explore how to care for and learn from this demographic in an article, “Scratching the Millenial Itch,” from Concordia University Nebraska’s most recent ISSUES. Read it here.

“Our professors are talking to us about our upcoming tests. Our coaches are talking to us about running that extra mile,” Kaitlin Jandereski, an LCMS college student, explains. “Our doctors are talking to us about eating the green stuff. But nobody—and I mean nobody—is talking to us about the one true God.”

This places The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod specifically and the Church in general in a prime position to care for—and answer the questions asked by—young people. Why? Because amid the chaos and confusion, the lack of information and the overwhelming amount of it, there is good news for the searching Millennial (not to mention his parents, grandparents and friends). “Christ has a way of transcending all things, including our sin-filled stereotypes,” explains the Rev. Bart Day, executive director of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Office of National Mission, which oversees youth ministry and lcms u. “Millennials, like all of us, need Christ.”

Indeed, “In a world of constant change, endless trends and gimmicks, fleeting hopes and eventual hard realities, the Millennial itch for something deeper is scratched by the ancient confessions in ways no new media propaganda can,” explains the Rev. Jonathan Fisk, creator of Worldview Everlasting, a Lutheran series of YouTube videos, radio clips and brief Q and As that address significant Millennial-esque theological questions in a faithfully winsome way. “It may not be my father’s entertainment industry, but it’s still Adam’s world in which Jesus Christ is the same: yesterday, today and forever.”

Millennials are looking for, and respond favorably to, a faith that has substance, “a real Jesus,” Day says. “Not a faddish Christ who buckles at every hint of cultural, social, economic and political headwind.” They’ve got plenty of that already: fashion, media, music, relationships.

It’s why they “need God in the flesh,” he says, “God as one of them, God in the sinful world alongside of them, bringing real life and salvation.”

And Millennials resonate to timelessness, to the quest for truth. “That Gospel, that preaching, that confession, that absolution— undying because He is not dead, spoken the same by generation after generation—that is not only something money can’t buy, but it’s something that we both already have and know the earth is literally dying to hear,” Fisk says.

Want to read the rest? I want you to too. Read the article from Concordia University Nebraska’s ISSUES here for free, and while you’re reading, be sure to take a look at the other articles, which touch on how the Church can care for Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, older adults, and pretty much everybody every else.

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3 thoughts on “scratching the millenial itch

  1. Kaitlin is absolutely dead wrong. The true apostolic and catholic churches have been clearly and loudly speaking of the one true God to their parishioners for 2000 years. Their professors, coaches, and doctors are loved and respected and they have not run away from them but spend time with them. She thinks no one is talking to them about God, because they have abandoned the one place where this happens- the Church! Did she not go to catechism? Is she incapable of getting to a confessional Lutheran congregation on Sunday morning? Does she not realize where the Triune God engages us? Does she not practice the faith like any other person of faith? They gather around God’s purely proclaimed word and His blessed sacraments! Kaitlin is not listening. This is what burns me about Millenials–they leave the church and then blame the church for not speaking to them. Come on. Rev. Day is right, they need what we all need- Christ and His gifts. We need simply need to reach out to lost sheep as we do to any age of lost sheep, with the gospel of Christ through the church.

    Rev. Michael Erickson – Gen Xer!

  2. Your article contains some lovely anecdotes from some fine Lutheran students, but are they really representative of the “Millennial” frame of mind, as is implied here? I think it may have been beneficial to have interviewed some Millennials from outside the Lutheran (or Christian) tradition to see what they “want” or are interested in. Otherwise you have engaged and practicing Lutheran students saying, “hey, this is what Millennials want!” and Lutheran pastors saying “hey, that’s exactly what we’re offering!” and there doesn’t seem to be an actual problem or conflict here. The only challenge would then be somehow reconnecting these estranged, but natural, partners. From my experience, this does not seem to be the case. The majority of Millennials I know (outside the ones from my CUC circle) would find very little that they liked in any of what Pastors Fisk, Day, Zill, etc, said. So perhaps this article is designed to be an effort within the current LCMS retention campaign, rather than a piece discussing what will coax unchurched Millennials into the faith? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

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