As soon as I drove into the parking lot, I knew that God was up to something. To be honest, I did not really want to be there. But God was about to catch me by surprise. Over the years, I have been shown a handful of insights about the future. They have always been right. This article contains one of those glimpses into the next 20 years.
I have attended many churches in the USA. I have to admit that the vast majority of them leave me cold. I assure you that this is not an attempt to criticize or tear down. I simply long to see the church become what she was meant to be. Most churches that I have attended do not give me much hope for the future. They are usually either stuck in the past or have become slaves to the popular culture.
That morning, I actually wanted to go and experience this particular church. But I was also exhausted.
We had been on the road for two weeks, covering three cities, speaking to different groups of people every day. Brad, my fellow traveler, insisted we attend the service. It was a hard sell. We had already been to one church and this would be our second one for the day. He bribed me with a cappuccino. (I guess I’m a cheap caffeine addict!)
The church met in a small rented space. This was their third service of the day. Most people looked younger than 30. Many looked like college students. By the time the worship started, I was wiping my eyes and choking back the tears. I felt more alive than I have in years. For over a decade I have known that Millennials represent the greatest spiritual hope for America. Now I was experiencing it.
The worship blew my mind. It was not the music that drew me in, but something intangible and indescribable. It was professional without being consumer-driven. It carried a sense of authenticity. It felt raw, real and deeply Divine. It focused on emotion and spirituality rather than showmanship. The message focused on sanctification and discipleship in the context of community. This was a stark contrast to most other messages I had heard so often that focused on individual sin management. Or worse, licentious grace.
I desperately tried to wipe away my tears. As I attempted to control my embarrassment, I heard a familiar voice speaking: “This is where you need to be. I want you to dedicate yourself to this generation. They will carry my message with presence, power and without pretense. They are hungry and ready. Reach them. Mobilize them.”
The meeting ended with a benediction. The words, echoed by the congregation, still reverberate in my mind: “Wherever you are, be the gospel.” This was not lip service. I had already been challenged to be on mission and been handed a pamphlet with 15 different city-wide projects. I had been asked by ordinary church members which project I was going to be serving in.
I left City Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma deeply challenged. But more importantly, I left with a renewed vision. This next season of my life will include deeply engaging the Millennial generation. I will be wrestling with how to reach and mobilize Millennials - but not only because of their age. Sure, they are young and represent the future leadership. But there is a bigger reason that God will use this generation. They hate dead religion. They are real, raw and authentic. They yearn for community. They were shaped through the recession of the 80’s and as a result have a healthy skepticism of materialism. Their rapidly changing world has made them remarkably flexible and able to handle ambiguity. I firmly believe that God has raised them to be a voice of healing, power and conviction.
Over the next decade, I will be committed to working with and building teams that reach Millennials. I have no idea what this means. I am about as far from this generation as you can get. I am not “cool.” I do not share their dress code, nor do I speak their lingo. But I do share many of their heart values. As a global strategist, I cannot make this my only focus. But mobilizing Millennials will without a doubt become a primary focus of my life.