In his recent online article, “59 Percent of Millennials Raised in a Church Have Dropped Out—And They’re Trying to Tell Us Why,” Sam Eaton outlines some scary statistics for us about why the millennial generation does not like, nor participates in, organized Christianity anymore.
He draws from a study conducted by The Barna Group (a Christian evangelical polling firm). According to the study, church attendance is at the lowest it’s been in recent history, stating that:
- Only two in ten Americans under thirty believe attending a church is important or worthwhile (an all-time low).
- 59 percent of Millennials raised in a church have dropped out.
- 35 percent of Millennials have an anti-church stance, believing the church does more harm than good.
- Millennials are the least likely age group of anyone to attend church (by far).
Eaton goes on to address his personal feelings about the study and outlines twelve major problems in the church. While most of the issues Eaton fleshes out in his twelve-point blog have to do with community structure there are three that seem to be at the heart of the matter:
- We’re Sick of Hearing about Values & Mission Statements
- Helping the Poor Isn’t a Priority
- We’re Tired of You Blaming the Culture
These seem to be the most critical out of all other issues he outlines. Eaton, along with the other 59 percent of Millennials, does not feel that these issues are being properly addressed by the churches they attend.
Messianic Judaism certainly has a lot to say about each of these topics as well. Let’s boil them down:
- Tikkun Olam (restoring the world)
- How to deal with the world around us
For Millennials in my generation the pop-culture, rock/praise and worship concerts are no longer cutting it. We want something with depth, clarity, and connection to the Bible. Some, like myself, have found this in Messianic Judaism.
Messianic Judaism holds a unique and biblically sound perspective on what Millennials desperately long for: identity. We need to know what being a child of the one true King means and how we fit into God’s great tapestry. On top of that faith knowledge, we need to know how that manifests itself in the world by actions. It’s not that we want to understand only our own identities but also the identities of others around us.
The message of the kingdom as outlined by the hashkafah (worldview) of Messianic Judaism gives us a deep and rich understanding of each unique identity as designed by God. It defines for us our boundaries, our callings, our relationships with others, and even gives us a strong moral compass with which to navigate. Human beings are creatures of habit; if we do not fulfill our lives with healthy and Godly habits as outlined by Scripture, then the vacuum will be filled by vices that lead to sorrow and suffering. Having a strong identity in God means knowing what God expects of you and what you can expect from him. These identity markers allow us to flourish in being who God made us to be.
The concept of Tikkun Olam, as classic Jewish literature presents it, refers to restoring the spiritual dimension of the world via the keeping of God’s commandments. In a biblical worldview, the world cannot be physically restored unless it is renewed spiritually. Paul, writing to the Romans, states, “For we know that the whole of creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8:22). This statement comes from the greater context that the world is restored from its corrupted nature via the work of the Messiah. As believers in the body of Messiah, we have the opportunity to participate alongside him in restoring the spiritual side of the world, thereby healing the world physically.
The World around Us and Our Mission
Yeshua says that we should be in the world but not of the world. To Millennials, rejection of society feels unrealistic and out of touch. We interact with society every day and are fully aware of the brokenness of it. However, God calls us to bring the light of Messiah into these broken places to bring healing and restoration of all things to him. At times this requires us to challenge the status quo of our generation and be willing to take a stand against society. As believers we must find a balance. We must be in the world, but with the intention of changing it and preparing it for the kingdom of God.
The question of, “How do we get the young people to come?” is a tough one. If the polls are correct, then the evangelical church has a lot of work ahead of her. In Messianic Judaism, Millennials are sticking around. I, for one, do not plan to go anywhere. Sure, I can get frustrated with the dynamics and challenges of being Messianic. However, I find the answers to my Millennial dilemmas in Messianic Judaism. The answers to the questions that matter to me exist in the gem of a Hebraic understanding of my faith in Yeshua. The way I live my life is founded on ancient traditions that go all the way back to Abraham, and the way I understand the world is defined by the message of the Jewish Messiah. For me, Messianic Judaism and the message of the kingdom are the backbones of my life. They are why I, as a Millennial, am choosing to stay.