The Millennial Church: The Future of Christianity (Pt.3)

There has already an emergence of ideas that we talked about earlier. My generation is not only learning that about the integration of science and faith, but we’re also merging faith traditions in order to be a more unified body. We have a desire to be one, to be ecumenical. I have often told people that I am an Evangelical because I can’t decide whether I am Catholic, Mennonite, or Pentecostal. I firmly believe there will be no 95 Theses, no one will be hunting down Mennonites like Zwingli did. I think my generation wants to look across the table and learn from the other person. They don’t want the exhausting, egocentric walls that the Church has put up in the past. I think because we have all of history, all of culture at our fingertips, we don’t live with a lot of the same fears that previous generations did. In a culture that has been surrounded by pluralism and relativism, we see things on a much flatter playing field. We see equality as an important necessity because of the abusive power structures that have been exposed to us.

Millennials place a great deal of importance on relationships. Therefore, it is only natural that we would want an ecumenical, community-based idea of faith. We want the input of other individuals. We want the input of the other traditions around us. Maybe, because we aren’t scared because of the flat sphere around us, we are looking to integrate all of the wisdom of the traditions, both past and present. This ecumenical church holds a high regard for young and old, black and white, people who hold different values than we do. Because we have such a high emphasis on mission, we know that the work of the Church has to be done by all of us, not just by some of us. (After all, wouldn’t the Apostle Paul want that interdependence?)

I think (my generation) is growing tired of all the hostility, negativity, and diversion that has been placed in front of us. Last week we saw Catholics recognize how ridiculous their controversy over birth control is (since many to most Catholics use it). Last year, we saw how ridiculous Evangelicals responded to Love Wins, because the theology of Rob Bell wasn’t something they were used to (even though there have been theologians who have believed similarly before Bell).We see what happens when we place such strong political hatred towards one another in order to accomplish “God’s will”. I think this is why my generation looks to Stephen Colbert; he is willing to mock the religious and social idiosyncrasies that are before us. We are living in a time when we need each other. I think my generation gets that. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting new results. My generation needs new results to help overcome this global mess we are in, and, we need the Church to be a place where we can question, doubt, process, and develop new ways of responding to the reality we live in.


15 thoughts on “The Millennial Church: The Future of Christianity (Pt.3)

  1. Excited about the Millennial Generation and the ones that follow and what they bring to the table. As a Gen X I know that authenticity is essential to the way forward with the Church and in fact society. I wonder if your call for “new results” is equal to every generations desire to see the Church live into it’s calling to “love thy neighbor” on a global scale rather than scattered pockets of genuine followers of Jesus living it out in a local context?

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Great thoughts Shawn,
      I think that the old results, especially in terms of the context of ecumenical Church, is the level of division (a pattern that really started around the time of Luther). So we don’t want the walls. And, in order to solve the problems in front of us both locally and globally, we will really need an ecumenical society. We all see what happens when our political structures lollygag fighting over who’s agenda is right (a lot of wasted time, a lot of wasted energy, not much results). I think, at least I hope, my generation can give up their own tribal thinking, in order to grow together and learn from one another.

  2. Funny how each generation says the same thing. We are going to fix the mess our parents and grandparents made. Then the next generation comes along and says we are worse off than we have ever been. Frankly, Michael sounds like your definition of insanity fits here.

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Thanks for your reply Robert,
      I don’t think that my generation is better than the previous one. My generation has been inherited problems and it will also inherit problems. But, in order to solve those problems we must think outside of the way that the previous generation thought. Some problems will not be solved (at least within human means) because of the brokenness within our humanity. The reason I am excited for my generation, is that because we have so much more documented history in front of us. We can understand the whole of human history, document it, recognize the patterns, and discern where and how to react to those certain problems. This gift was given to us by the logical, rational, and technological mind of the generation before us.

      • Totally agree. We must not fall into what CS Lewis calls “chronological snobbery”, presuming that previous generations were completely ignorant. However I also totally agree with Mark Twain when he says:

        “History doesn’t repeat, but it sure Rhymes”

        Really enjoying your blog Mike – I was wondering if I could repost this 3 part series on my own blog? (with attribution of course!)

      • Mike Friesen says:

        hey brook,
        You can post it at the end of the week if you want, It’ll be a 5 part series.

        Thanks for your kind words!

    • Robert,

      I completely understand what you’re saying and have often chuckled at the same sentiment (which I hear pretty often doing youth ministry). But in reality, each generation does bring about changes to the world they live in that are shaped by the realities of their formative years.

      My grandparents grew up in the time immediately following the Depression, and that experience shaped them and their world to be more conservative and with a strong dependence on family structures.

      My parents grew up in a time of economic prosperity and political unrest which resulted in a culture that was independent and questioned authority, but also one of great creativity.

      Mike’s comments of our generation could be pretty accurate. He’s identified some of the factors that will likely shape our culture as our generational cohort moves into that dominate age bracket. It would be naive of us to think that we will “fix” all the things those before us screwed up. In reality, we’ll likely make some really positive generational marks along with the negative, just like each generation before.

      • I wish the next generation luck. I work with many of them to not change the world, but change themselves- that will change the world. I guess what really concerned me more than anything was the constant use of “MY generation”. It sounded quite haughty to me. I also do not see all the ideals expressed as positive changes. Perhaps it would be good for everyone to go back and listen to the Statler Brothers song “Class of ’57”.

  3. […] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } – Today, 9:36 […]

    • Understandable. You don’t necessarily think that the ideals this generations expresses are positive changes, probably pretty similarly to the way the generation before you felt about yours as they were beginning to take shape.

      Every generation sees all other generations through the lens of their own values and norms. It’s no less inaccurate and unmerciful for older generations to say we’re going to screw everything up than it is for us to say you all already did. I love inter-generational discussions, but they demand as much open-mindedness and love as other much more obvious cross-cultural exchanges.

      • Jacqui, I think I can agree with about everything you said. What caused my generation the biggest issue was our haughty- we know so much better than you- attitude towards our previous generation. That attitude came across LOUDLY in Mike’s post. He says that we need everyone, and wants everyone at the table, but mocking us (i.e. Steven Colbert) is not the way to get us there.

  4. Mike Friesen says:

    In now way am I mocking your generation. Colbert is a cultural deconstructionist, who uses mockery as his medium.

    I don’t know how old you are, but the previous generations, especially the baby boomers, which introduced a high level of moral consciousness (pluralism, egalitarianism), which disavowed some of the abusive power. That being said, we’re the first generation to be fully immersed into this. In no way, am I mocking you or your generation. I am stating the research of how my generation feels about the previous ones. If you read other posts by me, you’ll see my great desire for the need of mentoring, and the wisdom of the previous generations, especially in these morally ambiguous times.

    • Mike- to help you out I am 53. I am an ordained elder in a very conservative, evangelical, holiness denomination- The Church of the Nazarene. I have read your 5 articles with interest, as I still speak to and work with many in your generation and younger. That being said, may I share these observations:
      1) I am appreciative of you responding directly to my concerns. That does show respect. – Jacqui was equally so.
      2) I find disarming your stated desire to integrate faith with science. This assumes the two to be on equal footing. I have been to what were referred to as centrist conferences where an attempt is made to essentially say that faith must embrace the current scientific thought and thus we must find ways to reconcile our faith with what science teaches us. This, in my view, is backwards. Science changes it’s conclusions every 20 years or so. I feel science must reconcile it’s views with the teachings of scripture. They will eventually. Until then, I don’t need to integrate it into what I believe, especially when it is attempting to disprove the word of God.
      3) The move toward ecumenicalism is equally disturbing to me. If our only difference was insignificant like how to govern the church, or which way to baptize, I wouldn’t really care. But there are fundamental differences as to how the children of God are to live. Coming from a holiness church, we are considered an extreme. We still believe that Christ’s love compels us to live in certain ways. Many do not embrace this thought. The only way everyone can come together is to eliminate the extremes. This means the elimination of holiness (living a life totally surrendered to Christ’s will in response to His love for us). I can not accept this. I can and do respect those whose views differ than mine, but cannot leave this fundamental tenant.
      4) As to the morality issue brought up in part 5- Again, I cannot justify immoral behavior as defined by scripture (i.e. sex is a privilege of marriage). The relativism wasn’t created by my generation, it simply became more acceptable. Again, any move that accepts these behaviors as acceptable for maturing Christians, I do not believe should be embraced. (Please understand that I am not referring to new believers who haven’t yet received light on these issues)

      These are the foremost reasons I do not believe your generation is headed in an acceptable way. I know it is popular in academics to elevate the journey above the destination. I find the journey to have little importance without the destination. I giuess I shouldn’t be too concerned if your generation wavers- your kids will fix it- or will they?

  5. […] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } – Today, 7:16 […]

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