Andrew C. Schroer
Man buns and skinny jeans. Shaggy beards and yoga pants. Starbucks and selfies. That’s how other generations tend to see millennials.
They live in their parents’ basement. They march in protests. They are constantly on their phones. They are dreamers. They can’t handle criticism.
That’s how many of us from other generations tend to view millennials. So we mock them on Facebook. We make sarcastic remarks about how they were all given trophies in Little League. We share posts about how they are scared to eat at Chick-fil-A and how they don’t even know what they are protesting. We call them lazy. We call them crybabies. We call them narcissists.
We wring our hands and worry about a future with them in control.
Like any generalization, some truth can be found in the stereotypes. Millennials are a product of the world in which they were raised—a world where truth is relative and all opinions are given the megaphone of social media. In the end, they are sinners, just like you and me.
Generalizations and stereotypes, however, are never the whole story. Stereotypes can warp how we treat and view millennials. Not all millennials wear skinny jeans and yoga pants. Not all millennials march in protests and live in their parent’s basement. Not all millennials are selfie-taking crybabies.
And even if some of them are, mocking them doesn’t help. One of the age-old responses toward those we consider weak or thin-skinned is to tear them down. We think we need to toughen them up, so we make fun of them. We mock them. They need to learn not to be so sensitive.
Though that is an age-old response, it is not God’s response. In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul encourages us to build each other by “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
Should we confront the weaknesses and sins of the millennial generation? Of course, just as we need to confront other generations’ weaknesses and sins. But we should do so in love. We should do so remembering that not all millennials are the same. We should do so with grace and forgiveness flavoring our words and attitudes.
We should do so, understanding that for many millennials, the greatest sin of all is bullying. Millennials tend to view truth as relative. They value tolerance above all else.
If you mock them or tear them down, they won’t hear what you are saying. They will simply look at you just as another intolerant bully.
As a pastor, I am constantly being bombarded by articles and posts on social media all saying the same thing: Millennials are leaving Christian churches in droves. The reasons for this seeming mass exodus are diverse. Sometimes it is because of their sinful attitudes which flow from a warped worldview. Other times it is because they view Christian churches as intolerant and unloving.
So what should we do? How should we respond to this generation that sees the world so differently than we do? Love them as our Savior God loves them. Speak to them honestly and openly about the dangers of moral relativism. Confront the sins and failings that have permeated this generation’s thoughts and attitudes. Let God’s love and forgiveness shine in what you say and do.
Be firm. Be real. Be loving.
But more than anything else, please stop mocking millennials. That’s definitely not helping.
Contributing editor Andrew Schroer is pastor at Redeemer, Edna, Texas.
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Author: Andrew C. Schroer
Volume 104, Number 7
Issue: July 2017
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