There are No Millennials in the Bible
July 28th, 2017 / By: Shane Pruitt | Director of Missions / comments
One of the hottest topics in churches, conferences, blogs and books today is “How to reach Millennials.” Many of my friends, colleagues, and I are regularly invited to coach groups on this topic, and personally, I enjoy speaking on reaching the next generation. However, here recently I’ve been opening my talks and breakouts with this statement, “In the kingdom of God, there is no such thing as a Millennial. That is a man-made term with a made-man definition.”
So what is a Millennial? Well, there are no precise dates when this generation starts and ends, but most researchers and commentators refer to Millennials as those born between 1980 and the early 2000s. Generations that precede this generation are Generation X (1965–1980), Baby Boomers (1946–1964), The Silent Generation (1925–1945), The Greatest Generation (1901–1924), and so on. The generation that follows the Millennials is Generation Z (2001 - ?).
However, like I said above, these are man-made names and descriptions. Don’t get me wrong. I realize that cultural shifts, advancements in technology and ever-changing family dynamics cause people to act, think and believe differently than their parents and grandparents.
But I also believe that we all too often allow culture, generational names and definitions to define our actions in a negative light. For example, there was a “reality” TV show not too long ago that placed Millennials versus Generation X’ers in a survival competition. Several of the young Millennial girls who refused to work used the excuse, “You know how us Millennials are. We don’t like to work hard!” Well, who told them that? Who made them believe that there was a whole generation that didn’t like to work hard? Culture told them that.
Think about what the media calls them today—“snowflakes” and “buttercups.” A whole generation is being told that they’re overly sensitive whiners and unprepared to respond when someone disagrees with them. However, I strongly believe that these misleading articles, interviews and definitions are causing this generation to surrender to how culture defines them rather than how God defines them.
Plus, it’s a flat-out lie. I speak to tens of thousands of young adults and students every year; and for every one person out there that fits the generalizations seen on TV, I’ve met a hundred others that are hard workers, driven, ambitious and changing the world around them for the better.
It also doesn’t take long to realize that some of the characteristics attributed to Millennials today are the same characteristics applied to previous generations—“The now generation has now become the ME generation (New York Times, 1976, about Boomers).” “They have trouble making decisions. They would rather hike in the Himalayas than climb a corporate ladder. They crave entertainment, but their attention span is as short as one zap of a TV dial. They postpone marriage because they dread divorce (TIME Magazine, 1990, about Generation X).”
Instead of a generation being characterized by certain generalities, maybe there is simply something to be said about being young. When you’re young, you act immaturely and make mistakes, stumbling through life as you attempt to figure out what God has called you to do. However, just like previous generations, prayerfully, youth turns into maturity with age and experience. Then, if history proves itself, that generation most likely will complain about the next. Believe me, Millennials will also grow old one day and will worry about the future of the world because of how 21-year-olds will look and act at that time.
Thankfully, according to the Bible, there is no such thing as a Millennial or any other generational name! The Scriptures don’t recognize Boomers, Generation X, Millennials or Generation Z. The Word of God only speaks about people who are made in the image of God. Some of these people are older, and some are younger.
People—not just Millennials, but all generations—need Jesus and are in desperate need of the gospel and discipleship. Whether you’re born in 1964, 1984 or 2004, you came into this world as a sinner who is going to make lots of mistakes, possibly be a little spoiled and certainly in desperate need of a Savior. And that is exactly what God offers to every generation—his own Son: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Then, of course, this call to salvation will also propel people into sanctification through discipleship. What is discipleship? Christian discipleship is the journey by which we grow in the knowledge and wisdom of Jesus and his Word through the power of the Holy Spirit to live in this present world in a Christ-like way that will attract others to want know our heavenly Father. Thankfully, the model of discipleship has already been laid out in Titus 2, where older men are encouraged to teach the younger men and older women are encouraged to teach the younger women, all with the goal of helping them grow in wisdom.
The future generations are not projects that need more gimmicks from the church; they are people in desperate need of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So maybe its time for us to stop falling into the generalizations of generations and start walking in the truths of how Scripture views all ages—as people in need of grace. Instead of complaining about the future generations, let’s do what the Bible commands us to do—love God, love people and make disciples.