This book of course then is a stat book. Most of Rainer's books are stat books and this makes my fourth I've read. This book was special to me however. It deals with me . . . in a way at least. Rainer and his research group did a survey of what is being called the Millennial generation. The Millennials are those people born on and between the years 1980 - 2000. Biblical generations seem to be defined between 20 to 40 years. Secular and research generations tend to lean towards 20-21 years. The Millennial generation is described based on these parameters, but also birth rate. In 1980, the birth rate spiked a little more than 100,000 births and has steadily increased through the turn of the millennium. I'm especially interested in this group because I was born at the beginning of this generation making me an official member of the Millennials.
The Millennial generation as a whole is a very encouraging generation. We are one of the largest generations to come around since America's inception. The Millennial generation is about 76 million strong. As large as that is, we should be larger. With approximately 50 million abortions having taken place since Roe v. Wade in the 70's, my generation could be a lot larger.
Rainer and his group took a sample size of Millennials born between 1980 and 1991 for relevance. Of those polled and questioned, the Millennial generation gives a lot of hope to America and to others. As a whole, the generation has a very high belief and conviction that they can, will, and should be and do something great. Many Millennials suggested that their life would be worthless if they didn't do something to change their community and even world. This is idea is certainly cause for great hope. The Millennial generation is also very committed to family and marriage. Of those Rainer and his group polled, close to 75% said they only planned on getting married once. My generation sees marriage as a life time commitment and thus are being more careful and patient in tying the proverbial knot. This however has also led to more co-habitations between men and women. However, the commitment to marriage is exciting for the institution of the family. Millennials cite the large divorce rate from their parents and the impact it has had on them as reasons to be more careful and committed to marriage and family. This is yet another reason to be hopeful.
Another reason to be hopeful about our future is that approximately 9 our of 10 Millennials said they respect older generations and especially their parents. They believe their parents have good advice and ideas. The Millennials polled seek advice not to find out what to do, but rather to offer consideration for decisions and reflections. Parents play a major role in the lives of the Millennial generation.
The Millennial generation is also very proactive. They have shown a great tendency to want to work and to be committed to working. However, the Millennials want flexibility. They gravitate towards jobs that allow them flexibility in their schedule for friends and family. Money is not the number goal. They like everyone else want financial wealth, but when asked why, most Millennials suggest they desire it to be able to save for the future, help their families, and travel. All of these reasons make the Millennial generation exciting for the future.
However, everything isn't so "peachy" with the Millennials. Due to perceptions of the Baby Boomers' politicians, religious leaders, preferences, and commitments, along with corporate leaders, Millennials have a tendency to want to challenge institutional establishments. This includes the church. Of those polled, only 15% answered in a way that would portray their beliefs, not their practices, as Christian. Only 6% of those Millennials polled answered in a way that would seem to suggest a strong Evangelical, born-again Christian. This of course is depressing to a large degree.
What is to be said and done about approximately 6%-15% of 76 million individuals claiming Christianity? It is to say that the church has its work cut out for it. Millennials polled suggested they despised the loud shrills of politicians and the hateful speech of some churches. They were clear that they desired transparency, urgency, and a real, fruitful commitment to faith and others. Where these characteristics are lacking, Millennials tends not to be involved. In regards to the church and methodology, Millennials tend to see the ineffectiveness of the church before them and during their younger years as proof that the way church operates needs to change. This of course isn't the case across the board and the opinions of Millennials aren't necessarily to be taken as absolute and indicative of all situations. What however is absolute is the exodus of the Millennials and those close to beginning years of this generation has led to the total decline of Christianity in America.
More Christian churches are being closed than opened. The average Christian church in America averages a little less than 70 total people. What is plain to see is that churches must begin to make a concerted effort to reach this generation and others as well. Souls must become the main focus of Christian churches or we will continue to see decline. If it isn't obvious as to why the church must become focused on souls and especially the Millennial generation is because of the power and influence of the Millennial generation.
The Millennial generation is on track to be the most educated generation in American history. Of those polled, a very large percentage felt that a college education was mandatory to be successful in today's world. The Millennial generation is also the first generation to be born into advanced technology. While previous generations saw the birth of motion pictures, radio, TV's, and house-sized computers, my generation was one of the first to be educated by a computer in school. Anyone remember the "Oregon Trail" game? Technology continues to advance and the Millennials are at the forefront of this movement. The Millennial generation is being targeted by the workplace and politicians. It goes without saying that the Millennial generation is the reason President Obama won his election. Do you still think we can't pay attention to this generation?
Millennials are tired of bickering, fighting, yelling, and politics. They are tired of the bickering in Christianity and especially the idea of denominations. The Millennials see life as fleeting after watching 9/11 take place in front of their very eyes. They don't see a lot of time for bickering and trying to prove everyone wrong. For this reason among many others, the Millennials have left the church. A third of Millennials actually lean towards atheism and agnosticism. With no Christian relevance in their life, my generation unfortunately sees nothing wrong with homosexual marriage. Have I got your attention yet? The church has to start paying attention to the Millennials. My generation is about to take over the political, religious, and community landscapes. Their ideas and convictions will become the "defacto" convictions of American policies and laws.
God has burdened me greatly over the past few months for my generation and those right before it. Don't misunderstand my burden. I'm still extremely burdened for ALL lost and hurting people. But what it very clear to me is that the future of Christianity . . . the future of the America we have known and loved, will depend on how the church reacts to the Millennials. Plans are being put in place now for Free Point to begin to focus attention towards our community's Millennial population. We must take up the fight. Now isn't the time to fight over traditional and non-biblical extremes and experiences. Now is the time to lift high the blood stained banner of Christ with authenticity, transparency, and reality. Our message must NEVER change, but I believe we must evaluate our methods. Remember those stats . . . they are speaking . . . and their message isn't encouraging. What will we do? The choice is ours and I believe the Holy Spirit is beckoning us and pushing us to get involved. Won't you join me . . .