Everywhere I look today, I see article after article about Millennials. A lot them are talking about Millennials and the Church and the growing number that are "leaving."
I wanted to give a quick two words into this conversation.
Stop talking ABOUT Millennials
I have seen too many articles based on research or trends or whatever trying to figure out why Millennials are leaving the church. While not all of the conclusions are wrong, what I find lacking is the voice of the Millennials in the article beyond research statistics.
I think that this is the problem. We try to put Millennials in a box, we try to define them, and what we have found is that they can't be defined. They are unique, they are passionate, and they don't have a certain box they stand on. In fact, "not having a box" might just be their "box."
So how do we understand them? This bring us to my second thought.
Start talking with them.
It is too easy to look from a distant and see Millennials as strange, oddly dressed, and seemingly angry people. But if you start talking to them you find out they want to, we want to, display our uniqueness. We no longer adhere to a brand because we are busy making our own brand. We understand that how we dress makes a statement, so suits and ties and fitting in doesn't cut it anymore.
Finally, the most important I think is that we aren't angry. We are frustrated that we keep being told that we are young and will figure it out someday. We are frustrated that our ideas or opinions often are overlooked because we don't fit the norm. We are frustrated because The Church talks so much about us, but doesn't take time to listen to us or get to know our story.
We need to start listening. We need to understand that many Millennials care so deeply about The Church that when their just dismissed as trivial, they are deeply hurt.
I am afraid that the hurt has been too deep for too long to simply invite them back, we need to meet them where they are. We need to care about who they are. We need to listen to their stories. And be willing to hear their ideas on how The Church is called to change to meet our new world.