Pew Forum, Millennials, and Authentic Christianity

A new Pew Forum study was recently released on “America’s Changing Religious Landscape.” I thought it was very fascinating, but beyond that I think it is helpful.

A couple realities that are interesting:

1) Many people continue to write articles and say things like, “What millennials really want” and then they describe a mainline protestant experience.

2) Nothing took a bigger hit than mainline protestants. Millennials aren’t running towards mainline protestant churches at all.

A few thoughts on this:

1) Millennials want what everyone wants- something genuine. No style of any kind will “reach millennials.” Millennials will only be reached by an authentic christian community declaring and demonstrating an authentically grace-filled gospel, just like every other generation.

2) People often say something like, “If the church is going to survive they need to change with the times.” They typically mean, “Approve gay marriage, move past Roe vs. Wade, etc.” Well, that is what mainline protestants have done and they are dyeing quickly. Evangelicals haven’t budged on those social issues and they held par.

3) Authentic christianity will always be fine, no matter what country they are in and no matter what their culture hates about them. The gospel is the power of God to salvation and God will keep saving people.

What did you find interesting about the research? 

Enjoy People As God Enjoys Them

We always say things like, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” and “I am made in the image of God.” These are true and good to be applied to ourselves as we reflect on the love and value that God has given us.

We should also consistently apply it to people around us.

We are not just loved, valued, made in God’s image, and enjoyed by our creator. We are also given the opportunity to love, value, and enjoy other people in the way that God does. God deeply desires genuine relationship with people. God deeply loves and values people. God gets genuine joy from fellowship with people.

What we see in the gospel is that God doesn’t view people as pawns to be manipulated. Instead, he made himself lowly that he might have genuine relationship with people. He was willing to die to have joyful fellowship with people.

A lot of us say we want to have deep, genuine relationships. Yet, we view and approach people as a means to an end. We approach relationships as “what can we get out of this.” This, I believe, is why many people are lonely and missing out on a lot of joy.

There is an immense amount of joy to be had when we stop viewing people as a means to an end and instead be willing to give of ourselves and approach people as image-bearers to be enjoyed. They are deeply love, valued, and enjoyed by God. When we deeply love and value people they will be become a great joy to us as well.

I think we often times underestimate the power of sin on our horizontal relationships with one another. We get that sin separates us from God. We don’t spend as much time on analyzing how sin has perverted how we view people and our relationships with them.

What does it look like to really enjoy people as God enjoys them?

It has to start with loving and valuing them as God does, which is the opposite of being self-serving. When we love and value people the way God does we stop trying to get anything out of them, we just try to really know them. I believe, once we do, we can’t help but to enjoy them.

God loves us, values us, and really knows us. He enjoys us. He sings over us. He delights in us.

There is an insane amount of joy to be had when we enjoy other people as God enjoys them. Their laughter, thoughts, sorrows, and even the mundane are things to be experienced and enjoyed.