Growing up I was much bigger than most everyone else my age. I was athletic, so naturally I played middle school football and wasn’t half bad (mostly because of my size-I admit it). I spent a majority of my middle school and high school career being mistaken as older than I was, which of course I played along with. Every 14 year old wants to be 18, right? Now I’m 22 and want to be 12 again. I’m now assumed to be younger than I am (I guess because I cannot grow a beard, to save my life). Except by the kids I see at work, who assume I’m at least 35-70, but its cool.
I hope I haven’t lost you. But my rambling does actually have a point somewhere through the fog. What I want to talk about this week is something close to my heart, that is, the voice of younger men and women in church.
I am from the south, where everyone drinks sweet tea, say’s y’all, and have biscuits ‘n’ gravy running through our veins. Churches here are famous for bluegrass hymns, potluck luncheons, and those sweet padded benches we call “pews”. But something more well known, especially by millennials, is lack of voice and say of younger people in churches. Churches are full of older gentlemen with biblical titles, such as deacon or elder, who lead committees and make decisions.
Millennials may often find themselves in a place where the church is “stuck.” The leaders of churches often gain and keep control and make decisions that continue to focus on “What the church used to do was…”. Purposefully or not,it may seem the older generation is trying to run the church in a way that appeases to their desires. The younger generation doesn’t want that. And honestly, the Church can’t succeed that way. Timothy was mentored by Paul. *FYI, what a lucky dude!* Paul was very integral to the foundation of the Church and grew Timothy into a key figure into the growth of the Church after Paul was gone. In 1 Timothy 4:12 Paul told Timothy…
“Let no one despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
At first glance you may think this saying, “Don’t let anyone count your age against your ability.” And you would be 💯 percent right. BUUUUT, there is a catch…kinda. What Paul is saying is to live your life in a way that your youth is outweighed by your walk. Paul is telling Timothy that to live in the way he stated (speech, love, faith, purity) gives him the full ability to be a leader. And lead Timothy did!
What I’m getting at is that young people should have the ability to voice their opinions and hopes for the Church and their church (Big C, little c). Now listen, you can’t live recklessly for yourself, not attend your church, and expect people to care what you have to say. BUT if you can place yourself in a legitimate life of following Jesus and living that out, PEOPLE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO IGNORE YOU. Churches MUST allow the voices of the younger people to be heard. Millennials are not perfect by any means. We have our faults. But college and high school aged believers are the now/future of the church. If there aren’t any young people in the church now, there won’t be anyone in church in the future, FYI. We understand more than the older generation thinks. We understand why it is important to love the LGBT community, those of other religions, and those who hate church/Christians/God (You can love people you may not agree with…Jesus did). We know how to reach those of our own age. As I’ve said before, I have the blessed opportunity of working closely with the youth in our church. And they get why church is important, how the Gospel and Jesus are the ultimate change the world needs. We see the ones hurting. We look at our phones a lot. We spend too much time on social media. But because of this, we see the parts of the world that need Jesus.
Church leaders. Pastors. Elders. Deacons. Listen to us. I beg you, listen to the youth/millennials of your church. We fear the church dying, but they are the key to the explosion of love the Gospel presents through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Give them roles to help on committees, lead outreach programs, and heck, even lead people sometimes. If your younger generation truly loves Jesus and lives so, they will be able to help.
Young: speak out, have a voice, love Jesus. Older: listen, give them a voice, love Jesus.
Drink sweet tea. Eat a biscuit. Deuces.