I often say that our younger generation is wiser, but weaker and that’s through no fault of their own. Many of us are raising or have raised a generation of young people with all the best intentions – we simply wanted them to have it easier than we did. We wanted their lives to be more comfortable and, in the process, we sheltered them and failed to share our struggles with them. In our desire to provide our children with a better and brighter future, many of us became fierce protectors, while others were just plain ‘enablers’.
Consequently, we now have Generation Y – young people who are stronger, bolder and wiser in many respects, but also privileged and reckless, with an unbridled sense of entitlement. In our quest to shield them, we did them a great disservice by not sharing our stories – the good and the bad – with them. It’s important to let the generation behind us know where we’ve been or come from, in an effort to help them appreciate their journey and understand the price that was paid for their right to pursue their path.
Today, Generation Y (those born between 1982 and 2003) number more than 75 million in the United States. They are usually referred to as Millennials because they are the youngest to have lived through the transition from one Millennium to the next. Generation Y has never known a time where cell phones and social media did not exist. Most have never watched television without using a remote control, they grew up using computers, and they have never heard of (or seen) typewriters, VCRs or even telephone booths.
Religion for Millennials is also different. The rituals, traditions and, yes, even myths, that many Baby Boomers grew up with, do not resonate with Millennials. Back in the day, if we dared to conjure up enough nerve to question our elders, ‘because I said so,’ was the ‘final answer.’ These days, young people question everything; they are genuinely curious and are seeking thoughtful and honest responses. In fact, a recent study by the Pew Research Institute confirms that Millennials are looking to affiliate with church congregations that authentically practice the teachings of Jesus in an open and inclusive way. Our challenge, then as a church, is not to try to make church cool, but to keep it ‘real’. How then, can we help them and, at the same time, keep it real? We’ll explore more next week!
Peace and power,
© Dr. Melvin O. Marriner,
We invite you to join us at Grove Church, 5910 West Norfolk Road, Portsmouth, Virginia, Sundays at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Tuesdays at noon and Wednesdays at 7 p.m.