I’ve been watching a number of postings by my colleagues over the past few months, all of which are targeted at complaints against Millennials. As I read their gripes, it sounds to me like they are angry…very angry. They feel like an entirely new generation is coming along and that’s forcing them to change how they’ve done things for years. The posts sound like they are angry at Millennials, but I can’t help but feel what they are really angry about is that what they’ve done forever just isn’t working anymore. I believe many of them have forgotten their younger days, their days when they were newly saved and the ways in which their generation brought change to church, often for the better, often because it was a different time and a different response to the Gospel was needed. Now, they sound just like the same, old, angry people who rejected them in church. It’s hard not to feel they are talking about you, though, because it certainly sounds that way. Tradition is tradition is tradition, and the traditions they have come accustom to engaging are comfortable for them, so much so, they feel any assault on them is an assault on truth. They’ve forgotten, and there is no question that their attitudes make you feel unwelcome.
They make me feel unwelcome, too. I’m on the line of Generation X/Millennial; some consider me one, some consider me the other. I personally identify more with Gen X because of my upbringing, but it doesn’t change that I’m on that line, and when they start talking about either generation, I feel unwelcome. More than once, I’ve felt really out of place in church throughout my lifetime. I am the only person out of everyone I grew up with who became a minister, and I’ll openly admit I’ve taken on a couple of different personas through the years. I was decidedly more conservative when I was coming up, because that’s what I thought it meant to be a minister. I was used to being the youngest person in the room, and yeah, that sucked a lot of the time. People looked down on me or would tell me how they’d like to hear my perspective “in ten or twenty years.” They might have meant well or meant it to be encouraging, but all it felt like was they didn’t think I was ready or old enough to be where I was. I didn’t agree with a lot of their viewpoints. I didn’t agree with their politics. I just…didn’t…fit.
The gripes I have heard from Millennials about church are all legit, at least as far as I’m concerned. You’re right, standard churches have become so distant and so condescending, they aren’t relevant anymore. They sound like cheerleaders for old-world values that just don’t work anymore and their ideals about marriage, women’s issues, immigration, relationships, money, and the work of God in our lives just don’t fit for where we are, right now. If we believe the Holy Spirit to be alive and active, that means we need to hear what God has to say to us, in this day and age, and that includes you, Millennials. You are raised up for a purpose and that purpose is not to be treated like you are a burden or you are unimportant to the church. I don’t have a gimmick to offer and you probably won’t feel like you are at a rock concert at our church or ministry, but what I have, what we have, we offer to you, because we want to hear God speak to you and through you.
I’m not a distant, far-off leader. If you need me, I am there for you. If I can’t be there, I have someone who can, at that moment, and they, too, have a heart for people, a heart for now, a heart for you, as a person, an individual, not a demographic, or a label, but you, as a person. I don’t care if you wear a skirt or a pair of pants. I don’t care how you vote. I don’t care if you have a tattoo. I don’t care what your sexual orientation or gender is, beyond that I am going to love you, as you are, anyway. It doesn’t matter what your marital status is. I don’t care what you’ve done or where you have been, and we are here to offer you that new start, that new intrigue, to where you can have a leader who will give you a hug and hear your thoughts and concerns and stand with you through whatever it is you are going through. If you want to talk theology, or have questions, I am here to answer them. I don’t shy away from hard topics, hard questions, and hard discussions. Let’s talk about God, about what you think, about what you feel, and about what you want to know. Let’s talk about and share life. Let’s be involved and make our communities and world a better place, full of outreach as well as constant inreach, where we examine ourselves and that drives us to do even more to help others and to interact with others who believe in some ways like we do, and in some ways different, so we can even be a witness to them.
I’m not perfect; but I know what it’s like to hear nothing but negative things about a generation that includes you. I believe in you, no matter where you are at and what stage of your life journey you’re on. At Sanctuary International Fellowship Tabernacle – SIFT, we make a way for you to worship with others who share our outlook and want to know God in a deeper way. At Apostolic Fellowship International Ministries, we are training people who are called to ministry or leadership within this world. At Apostolic University, we are tackling the intense, theological questions of our day and turning them into practical action.
Yes, whoever you are, when you are ready, I’m here for you, we are all here for you. No gimmicks, no games, just people who love God, and who love you too, because you are a child of God and a part of our family, even if you don’t know it yet because you haven’t experienced this kind of place. You, just as you are, are welcome in this place.
+(Apostle Dr.) Lee Ann B. Marino
Apostolic Fellowship International Ministries: www.yourkingdomnow.org
Sanctuary International Fellowship Tabernacle – SIFT: www.welcominthisplace.org
Apostolic University: www.apostolicuniversity.org