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We Have What Millennials Want

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SearchingforNTChristianityI have long believed that the principle of simply restoring New Testament Christianity is more appealing to my generation (Millennials) than it is to any other recent generation. And the more I study the Millennial generation, the more my theory is validated.

Thom Rainer, a notable figure among the Southern Baptist denomination and president/CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, co-wrote,

     “The secondary definition of ‘radical’ in most dictionaries we consulted was “going to the extreme, especially regarding change from accepted or traditional norms.” The most common definition is “going to the root or the origin,” a meaning we don’t hear espoused that often.
     For Millennial Christians both definitions have merit. Compared to that which is taking place in most American churches, the Millennials are expecting the church to change from accepted or traditional norms. But these Millennials do not seek change for change sake. They have a keen desire to practice the Christianity of the Bible, to move the twenty-first century church to become more like the first-century church. In many ways therefore, these young adults seek to move the church to its roots or origin.
     [After examining Acts 2:42-47] The radical nature of Millennial Christianity thus includes the desire to forfeit material gain for the sake of others, a fierce devotion to Bible study (“the apostles’ teaching”), an intense prayer life, and a total commitment to reach and minister to others in their communities and among the nations. What, then, must churches today do to attract these radical Christians?[1] (emp. added)

Did you catch that? Go ahead, read it again.

The above author, who doesn’t even believe in Restoration Christianity, has observed that my generation has a deep interest in going back to the plain and simple teachings of New Testament Christianity.

We can pretty much paraphrase the above paragraphs: “Millennials are looking for churches of Christ.”

That’s us! They’re looking for us! We are dedicated to the restoration of pure 1st century Christianity!

What, then, is the problem? Why aren’t Millennials exactly flocking to our congregations?

I don’t know.

But I do know that many of us have lost our focus. There are congregations of the Lord’s Church that are:

  • Ashamed of their identity and devotion to their First Love.
  • Fooling around with denominational & interdenominational ideas.
  • Apathetic and have lost their zeal for the Lord.
  • Disinterested in serving their communities.
  • Lacking in their understanding of “the apostles’ teaching.”

If I had to put my finger on one reason why we aren’t busting at the seams with Millennials, I would say it is because we aren’t communicating who we are well enough (and because many of us have forgotten who we are).

Now, more than ever before, we need to be shouting to the world, “We are the Church of Christ!” Don’t give up. Millennials are reminding us that the fields are ripe for harvest (John 4:35).


[1] Page 258. The Millennials: Connecting America’s Largest Generation (2011). Thom Rainer & Jess Rainer. B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tennessee.

Question: How Can We Better Communicate The Restoration Ideal?

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4 Responses to We Have What Millennials Want

  1. Wes McAdams June 18, 2013 at 11:58 AM #

    Love this post, Ben! I totally agree! I think the time is right for another great surge of the “restoration movement.” I always say that we were non-denominational (in the truest sense) before non-denominational was cool. Unfortunately, while we have many “community church” folks moving more toward the Truth, there are so many congregations wearing the name “Church of Christ” who are moving further from it.

    Personally, I think the time is coming when we may need to change our signs to simply read, “Christians Meet Here.”

    Thanks for all you do, brother!

  2. Geno June 18, 2013 at 2:44 PM #

    You said in your post:

    “We can pretty much paraphrase the above paragraphs: “Millennials are looking for churches of Christ.”

    That’s us! They’re looking for us! We are dedicated to the restoration of pure 1st century Christianity!

    What, then, is the problem? Why aren’t Millennials exactly flocking to our congregations?”

    I must say that the restoration of pure 1st century Christianity is NOT going to happen within organized, institutional churches, because they are completely missing the mark as to what the Lord’s intentions are concerning His people.

    Take a kook at the home page of my site, if you’re willing, and I’d really appreciate it if you would not delete my reply.

    Grace in Him

    • Ben June 19, 2013 at 10:52 AM #

      I read the article on the front page of your website, and I agree with it completely. I’m not exactly sure what your definition of “institutional” is, so I can’t detect if you are disagreeing with my post. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being “organized,” however. I think we should be organized (as opposed to being disorganized). The New Testament obviously talks about congregations of Christ’s Church (e.g. “churches” -Gal. 1:1-2). Are you saying we shouldn’t be organized into congregations? And is it unscriptural for us to have buildings in which to meet? Like I know you believe, we need to be modeling ourselves as closely to the New Testament, 1st century pattern as possible.

  3. Geno June 19, 2013 at 11:21 AM #

    Thanks for engaging, Ben. I appreciate that.

    I’m simply saying there are two kinds of church.

    The first is the organic version, which is what the Lord is after, in which there are real relationships… and “pastors” & leaders have been gifted and placed in leadership by God, and the other members know it… where the LORD is given place to move and act as the true head, and do what He wants to do.

    Yes, these things can occur in a building, where there is some framework of organization, but I have not seen or experienced anything close. And, oh yes, EVERYONE says that “their Church” gives Jesus first place & HE is the head. I beg to differ.

    The second type of church is what we typically know of as “Church”, where certain things are done at certain times… where programs, “ministries” and projects reign… where there is a salaried “Pastor” & clergy of some kind… where it is difficult if not impossible to develop REAL spiritual relationships with others who “attend” and are supposed to be your FAMILY… where we are always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.

    I have a post on my site about some experience I’ve had overseas, which illustrates well what I mean by organic body life. Check it out at http://whatischurch.org/the-living-body-of-christ/ and then we can pick up on this dialogue.

    Finally, you said in your post:

    “That’s us! They’re looking for us! We are dedicated to the restoration of pure 1st century Christianity!”

    I have a question, and please give it some real thought before answering. Are you TRULY dedicated to the restoration of pure 1st century Christianity?

    Real 1st century Christianity will cause one of two responses from EVERYONE.

    They will love us because they know we live and proclaim truth and hold forth LIFE.

    They will despise us because we CONVICT them of sin, of righteousness, and of the coming judgment.

    Think about that as you reflect on whether or not you want pure 1st century Christianity.

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