The Fine Print: My Job Offer for Millennials
Over the weekend, my latest article was posted on the Huffington Post in the Religion section. It’s my attempt to synthesize last month’s disappointing jobs report with a recently released Rutgers University study that reveals the impact of the poor economy on recent college graduates. And my response to all of that, which is an invitation to Millennials to get started doing the creative, entrepreneurial work of church planting that is desperately needed right now.
Of course, in 800 words, there’s a lot I had to leave out of the article, and I’m already working on a follow-up that will hopefully take the conversation a bit further. But in response to some of the early feedback I’ve gotten on the article, I wanted to say this:
1) This “offer” is not just for Millennials — The Millennial generation is the focus of this article, but I’m equally excited about Gen Xers (like myself) and Boomers who have visions for forming missional faith communities. The Millennials are the largest generation since the Boomers, however, and many of them are “coming of age”/in the post-college phase of their life right now. As they think about what they want to do with the rest of their lives, I especially wanted to communicate to them that church planting is a viable, life-giving, transformative option.
2) This “offer” is not just for white guys — I chose to use Mike Friesen as an example of a Millennial with a hope-filled vision for the Church, because I came across his blog series on “Why the Church Is Losing My Generation” and was really struck by his thoughts. I got a chance to chat with Mike via Skype the other day, and I told him that I was planning to quote him in my article. I wanted to let Mike (and others like him) know that there are amazing opportunities waiting in church planting. But that invitation isn’t just for white guys like Mike (and me). It’s for women and men of all races, ethnicities, and sexualities. The more, the merrier. It’s going to take all kinds, really. And the urban contexts where these new faith communities are most needed are already very multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, so I predict (and expect) these new expressions of church to be multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, as well.
3) This “offer” is not just for North Americans — The focus of this particular article was on Millennials living specifically in the U.S. and Canada, but as one commenter on Twitter said, “Can we hear from the Global South and other areas where Christianity is exploding?” It’s an interesting question, and I’d love to explore that sometime. From my (admittedly poor) vantage-point, I see what looks like some exciting things happening in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. In the past few years, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know (via Skype, email, and social media) folks in Brazil and South Africa, especially, who are doing exciting work. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of personally traveling and witnessing the work of the Church on every continent, except for Australia and, of course, Antarctica. (When are Australia and Antarctica going to invite me over?!) So I do have some thoughts and opinions (but mostly questions) about what is happening in the Christian Church around the world, but that’ll have to be addressed at a later date.
For now, I’m hoping this article will just open the lines of communication and, in a sense, grant some permission to Millennials (and others) to think and dream with me about what constructing the faith communities of the future might look like. I’m absolutely certain there is urgency and opportunity that we need to seize in this moment, and I hope to continue having exciting conversations with visionary leaders (of all ages) who want to be part of creating that future together.
Special thanks to Glenn Zuber, Disciples church planter in the D.C. area, who really helped me draft this article and helped me see that a second (and probably third) article is needed to really flesh this out.
Three quotes I am pondering right now:
“Peacemaking is what does the actual work of transformation. … We need communities that anticipate this peaceable kingdom, and communities that work for peacemaking in this world.” —Jürgen Moltmann, at the 2009 Emergent Theological Conversation
“The truth is, we do need thousands of new churches, especially churches that take shape as companions on a faith quest instead of as institutions defending theological turf. … Opinions differ as to whether these faith communities are in fact churches (I’m glad to have them ‘count’), but however they’re categorized, I believe we also need thousands of them, both to sustain the faith of followers of Christ who can’t survive in existing contexts and to create space for seekers to be exposed to the way of Christ.”
—Brian D. McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity (p246)
“… these new small congregations, usually forming under the flag of ’emergent’ or ‘missional’ congregations, are greatly different from the congregations with which our denominations are familiar. These new congregations often form less as products of denominational new church starts than as emergent new communities with leaders in place. The role of leader in these new forms of congregations does not conform to old models of clergy either in terms of preparation, certification, or prominence in the congregation. Seminary training, ordination, denominational certification beyond baptism, and a sense of call are not necessarily seen as criteria for leadership in these congregations. Separately owned facilities are not necessarily required or desired; regular Sunday corporate worship may or may not be a major component of the congregation’s life. Because they are still new on the horizon, it is difficult to tell how much of a pattern these new forms of congregation represent and how interested they will be in denominational connection. What is sure is that they are of a different breed from the congregations built by the generations that preceded this newer movement, and denominations will need to adapt their practices significantly to allow these new congregations to replace the ones that will disappear.”
—Gil Rendle, Journey in the Wilderness: New Life for Mainline Churches (p135)