I was involved with a team of folks ministering at Zuccotti Park where the Occupy Wall Street movement was organized in 2011. More than 80% of the protestors were millennials. They stayed in tents for about two months when we ministered to them in the evenings. We did not preach in the park or among the protestors rather build one on one relationship with them over a few weeks. They started to become open. We held a prayer meeting nearby, where one of the several protestors who came testified that he believed in a chemical god. He came from a family of generations of atheists. Within a couple of hours towards the end of the meeting, he kneeled down to accept the Jesus and everyone could see the joy in his face. Many good Christians who have not stepped in the park was warning us to stay away from the Occupiers as they were supported by foreign groups and leftists, which I was very much aware of. However, when I asked them if Christians would sacrifice sleeping in a park for two months during winter for something, that we strongly believe in they had no answer. What Christianity misses today is that we are theologically sound more than sacrificially sound. We hold on to the greatest truth ever told and do nothing with it. Others may not know as much but are willing to do something with it – to give their lives fully to something they believe. That makes a big difference when it comes to organizing any movement so to speak. We wonder why we don’t see a kingdom movement while we are still not 100% sold out to the cause of the kingdom.
It is better to be around people who are willing to live out something they are passionate about than be around those who do nothing about what they have in their possession or keep to themselves. Either Christians were convinced hard enough to keep it all to them or they do not know the value of what they have.
Millennials, your dreams are not shattered, it has only begun
The millennials like anyone else is looking for the truth (Jesus) and to have a real belonging or community they may have never had growing up. They hate to be part of a lifeless denomination or ritual. A few of them that we only knew for a month knowing that we were followers of Jesus, still called us when they needed help. The Christians need to do a better job in building trust with their communities. If we are open to the youths and millennials and have no religious agenda, they are open and looking for something real that they can believe in- it is the case even with other generations. The millennials are not looking for managers or an organization to be part of but rather for mentors and to be part of a community that makes a genuine mark in society.
This group if prayed with focus and mobilized has the critical mass to bring a new kingdom movement. The intercessors need to recognize this and consider where they come from. However, this change can only come with the demonstration of the power of the gospel. For this we need to 1) join with the purpose of the kingdom and 2) be willing to storm heaven through prayer.
As they are looking for hope and purpose out of politics, this is the right time for preparing a new wineskin. Not having an old wineskin of religion could be an advantage for revival. Moreover, they are a confident, connected and open to change. They are the largest generation connected in through social media networks. Despite the pressure to lose their peers and friends on ideological differences, their openness is an advantage to usher in a gospel movement if they truly see PURPOSE and VALUE in the kingdom of God, outside the religiosity. Thus, they can cause a new positive shift to revival.
The role of Millennials in mobilizing a gospel movement and what the rest can learn from it
Get to know the millennials in a human connectedness level. They are curious to be part of a vision and be inspired
They are purpose-oriented than task-oriented. They thrive on competencies and passions than job security. They connect with the purpose of the project than just the tasks
They value feedback and routine encouragement as accustomed to in the digital world.
They liked to be engaged with stimulating activities and new challenges instead of routines.
They prefer space to learn and experiment than be micromanaged.
Their sense of belonging comes from the alignment of values to a purpose that matters to them and the community.
They function well in networked environments and simultaneous communications than long meetings.
Self-expression and learning in collaborative settings feeds their enthusiasms
If the unique strengths of this generation can be tapped for the right purpose of the kingdom it has great potential. The glaring differences can be diffused over time as an army of kingdom wall builders and intercessors unite across generational borders.
Millennials across the world
In an increasingly globalized economy and digitally connected social media, the millennials are a global potential force. For instance, in India the population in the age group of 15-34 increased from 353 million in 2001 to 430 million in 2011. Just like American Millennials, European Millennials have lived through a harder economic crisis and most were born around the fall of communism. The Millennials around the world share with young Americans the same optimism of future than their older counterparts. In both advanced and emerging countries, millennials are a recognized influence.
Learn from the leader
Let us not forget that Jesus was a millennial when He did His relatively short ministry of 3.5 years that changed the world upside down. When the remnant army takes the position and mends the relationship there is new generation of army waiting to be ushered in. There is a great window of opportunity that is set before us to usher in revival in our lifetimes. Jesus turned the political aspiration and activism of his young followers to an activism to a kingdom that is not of this world. Jesus had both activists like Peter and passivists like John among his twelve disciples. He used both types to advance the kingdom.