If you have been keeping up with any of the trends in ministry you have heard the term “millennials.” They are the generation of that horrid group of young people that were born sometime from the early 80’s to the early 2000’s. They have largely been referred to as lost, hopeless and clueless. Many of them live at home with parents, thousands have procreated children and dropped them in the hands of grandparents to raise. They are often talked down about in reference to their preferences in music, church music and their infrequent attendance at church. Millennials are also accused of being so “tolerant” that they don’t stand for anything…
I could go on and on, honestly there has not been a great deal of good said about them in regards to the church. I am disappointed that we have allowed ourselves to lose hope in the Christians hands that we will be surrendering our churches into in only a few short years.
I am here to tell you, THERE IS HOPE!
I have a friend, no a brother, named Travis Harmon. He is the director at the Harriman Campus Roane State Community College Baptist Collegiate Ministry. Travis invited me to come hang out with them when he achieved the position. I took him up on his invitation. Let me tell you what I discovered.
I discovered a group of young men and women that are craving relationships with people older than they are. The truth is, even if I didn’t want to admit it, I have turned into one of these “old, out of touch middle age guys.” That doesn’t mean I’m “done.” It means that my eyes have a different perspective on their world. Sure, there may be wisdom in my perspective, but there are some things that have emerged that I don’t “get.” But they do. They have accepted me as a friend in their world.
I frequently am asked by one of the students, Wes, “Are you coming to play volley ball with us on Wednesday. Please come!” You don’t get invitations like that if people don’t want you around. I have other questions asked of me such as, “Tim, how do I learn to follow the Spirit. The Bible says I’m supposed to. I want to know how to do that but no one really has really ever taught me how. It’s important to me.”
These young men and women are all in their early 20’s. They are craving a deeper relationship with Jesus. They want to be part of the church fellowship, they just don’t know where they fit. We have a responsibility to accept them, the way they accept us. We have a responsibility to teach and learn from them. Why? Because Christ is alive in them also (Read the book of Colossians!).
Today I had my mind completely blown!
I stopped by for my Wednesday visit. The one where I apologize for not showing up in time to play volleyball. The meeting where there are students scooting over on the couch so I have a place to sit with them. Sure they may be discussing the life lessons that can be gleaned from Sharknado. But I’m welcome. Anyway…
I stopped by to see those young men and women. Young men and women that have found a place so deeply in my heart. I stayed for a few minutes and then explained I had to pick up my wife from work. I was asked to wait a minute. The RSCC BCM surprised me big. They allowed their little community and their realm of influence to raise $229 for the Psalm 112 Men’s Ministry Active Water project.
But that wasn’t enough. Another one of them stopped me on the way out the door and explained that he wanted to give just a little more. I was reluctant, but in his eyes I could tell it was important to him. Who was I to take that moment away from him? It wasn’t me he was giving it to. It was to “the least of these.”
Why did they do it? They didn’t really give a reason. But I suspect it has a lot to do with them wanting to serve the world in the name of Jesus and make the world a better place because they love Him.
I learned that these young men and women take their faith seriously. I think they want to grow WITH us, not be ostracized from us.
Next time you see someone in this Millennial generation, why don’t you ask them to join you for a cup of coffee. I’ll just bet they will. Ask them what the world looks like from their side of the table and be ready to listen. But be ready to respond too, they realize the world isn’t all about them.
Thanks to my brothers and sisters at the Roane State BCM. I loved you guys before you made the donation…lol
Sincerely Tim Ogle