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Knowledge & News
Thought provoking topics and series, necessary news and information.
In my undergraduate career I studied both Political Science and Religious Studies. Both of these are subjects we are told are impolite to discuss at the dinner table, so it thrills me to be able to discuss them both in a blog post without having to worry about table manners.
As a Political Science major at Stetson University I learned about the polarization of politics in this country and the inability of our government to function and create compromise. This is because there are no more moderates left; no one left to bridge the gaps between parties. As a Religious Studies major I learned about the social justice orientation of the ancient Hebrew prophets and their calls to the people to return to the LORD their God. In classes that dealt with both subjects I learned how politicized religion has caused divides in nations that have become crippled by war, and I have learned that religion may also be the way to bring about peace in those same nations.
So when I read that millennials are the largest group now identifying as “nones” – those who affiliate with no religion and are leaving the church as they grow older – I honestly am not surprised. However, I do not think that labeling the millennials as a heathen generation that hates religion is fair.
When I began college I wanted nothing to do with religion. I felt like I had been given a set of superficial, man-made rules about what it meant to be a Christian, and that the Church created hurdles that people have to jump over in order to belong. You have to think a certain way, believe a certain thing, and say the right words in order to be a part of this exclusive “we’re in and you’re out” group. And this wasn’t a group I wanted to be a part of.
Overtime, I began to see these same themes in politics: “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” Politicians putting up barriers instead of building bridges. Again, a world I wanted no part of. I often say that studying Political Science made me hate politics.
So given all of this, what is it that millennials are really looking for? What do we want? What are we craving?
Here is what I would suggest: the problem is not that millennials hate the Church and are rebelling against their upbringing. The problem is that the Church has pushed them away. It seems very clear that what millennials want in this day and age is to belong: to be met where they are at with authenticity and vulnerability. Millennials want Jesus. But not the Jesus of mainstream religion that says people are only welcome in the Kingdom if they fit a cookie-cutter guideline. Millennials want the Jesus of the Bible who, above all things, loved the marginalized by meeting them where they were, be it at the tombs where they had been forced to dwell or the leper that society has pushed to the fringes. This is what resonates with us.
What millennials need are communities that are willing to be honest with each other and themselves, communities that accept you without hoops to jump through, and communities with broken people willing to accept other people in their brokenness. Millennials need communities more like Jesus.
Other Responses in the "Losing / Finding Faith" Series
We are a misfit faith community that gathers in DeLand on Sundays at 5pm. Come as you are.
We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.