Many things are different; but some things are still the same.
Such is the term that’s sometimes used to describe the differences in views-and-values from one generation to another (which usually covers around 15-20 years). And, believe me, there really are some differences.
This past week I attended a meeting where one of the pastors was from a large church in Washington, D.C. As I listened to him, I realized anew we definitely live in an ever-changing world where one generation’s worldview slowly gives way to another.
As this young pastor in his late 30’s or early 40’s shared, it didn’t take long to realize that I’m really out-of-touch with the younger generation. I’m one of those “baby boomers,” who was born in 1946-64 and often referred to as “war babies.” However, recent studies have shown the current, dominant group now in the workforce is the one known as “millennials.”
Millennials, born in 1977-95, definitely look at things much differently than my generation does. Also known as the “me” generation—where everyone revolves around “me”—they are generally quite educated and energetic. However, they also possess a strong sense of entitlement. And, contrary to us baby boomers, they see a job as a stepping stone to a better job and, consequently, are not as loyal to their employer as my generation was.
Think of it:
It was quite common for my generation and those before us to work at the same job 30-40 years or more. But, such is not the case with the millennials. Again, they see a job as a “means to an end” in their quest for upward mobility, bigger salaries, larger houses, faster cars, longer vacations, etc.
Likewise, their views toward God, the Bible, church, authority, morals, ethics, etc., are also different. A recent survey showed that 75% of them supported same-sex marriages, while 85% of them saw nothing wrong with the legalized use of marijuana.
There’s also a rejection of absolute truth and suspicion of those in authority. And, when it comes to long-held, traditional Biblical beliefs, there’s much resistance and skepticism. That explains why the majority of them leave the church after graduation from high school and never go back.
Interestingly, when asked about this, they point to the church’s hypocrisy and abuse of authority. But, they also describe themselves as “spiritual,” but not “religious,” which definitely is an interesting way of putting things.
While it’s easy to be critical of such things, much better is trying to understand the differences and seeking to build bridges, not walls, between our generations. This doesn’t mean we should compromise on what we believe in an order to accommodate; however, it does mean that we must find new ways to express God’s eternal truths so that they can understand and embrace them.
Needless to say, I listened in amazement to the young pastor as he shared some of the things their church is doing to reach his generation and younger. I also realized that we can’t keep doing “business as usual” in our churches if we’re going to reach our ever-changing world.
In some ways, this younger generation is hungrier for truth, transparency and authenticity than my generation. They don’t want to do something just because they’re told to do it; however, when they see an opportunity to make a difference in some way, they embrace it wholeheartedly and passionately.
Therefore, I hope us “more mature” (older) members of society will quit looking down on the younger generations and start looking for ways to embrace them. That way we don’t need to fear what the future holds; instead, by passing the baton to them and helping them to embody God’s changeless truths in their own lives, we can finish up our time here with hope and thanksgiving. God bless you.
NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.