Is It Time to Rethink Our View of Millennials?

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This is a discussion about a recent post by Jonathan Aigner on his blog Ponder Anew (www.theologyinworship.com).

Well, here's another blog post about Millennials. Yep, we know all about them. They can't carry on a face-to-face conversation. They have no need for scholarly pursuits because, hey, there's the Internet. They experience real, physical pain when without their phone. They're sure their time is worth far more than what's being offered, yet they don't think things are overpriced. They think they came up with showy eyewear and beards. They don't know what a pound sign is. And, most importantly, entertainment is all they want from Jesus.

Don't we know all these things are true about Millennials? Jonathan Aigner says we shouldn't be so sure. In a recent post on his blog Ponder Anew, he gives his thoughts on how off-target the Church's approach has been toward his generation. So far off, in fact, that it has actually contributed to many of them leaving.

They left because they had been constantly catered to, constantly kept busy, but had never been taught how to be a part of the church.

I find Aigner's assessment very interesting because it flies in the face of conventional thinking on young people. So many in the Church have been convinced for so long that entertainment is what young people want, it has become an accepted truth. If a worship service isn't dazzling, the young people won't come. Or so we've been told. But dazzling isn't a foundation; it's not a safe harbor in the tempest of life. So while contemporary worship is fun for some for a time, it doesn't by itself lead to a lifelong, deeply grounded faith in Christ. There has to be more.

Aigner makes some great points about what's been missing in most contemporary churches: theology, liturgy, sacraments, honesty.

Just be the church. Be yourself. Use your regular old liturgy. Offer your regular old sacraments. Sing your regular old songs. Cast a wide net, and let [come] whosoever will come.

Without these elements, he opines, the Church is just a "Jesusy versions of mainstream entertainment", which has never been all that appealing.

I can't help but feel the picture Aigner paints of a healthy church is, in many ways, the church the CRCNA has tried to be. I know that sounds a tad obsequious. Even I'm rolling my eyes a little. Still, I think it's true. We've maintained a strong emphasis on sound doctrine. We hold liturgy in high regard, and take sacraments seriously. We've never taught that life in Christ is some surreal happiness train, constantly masking the pain of a fallen world. At least I don't think we've ever taught that.

But what do you think? Is Jonathan right? Has the contemporary Church strayed too far from the path? What about the CRC? How about your church? Please read Aigner's post and give us your response.

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Anyone who thinks the CRC should grow and/or needs to be reorganized should take a look at Wall Street Journal book review by Michael Shermer of "The Head Game," which begins,"

When President Bill Clinton chose to intervene in the Somali civil war in 1993, the Battle of Mogadishu resulted in thousands of Somali citizens killed, two American Black Hawk helicopters shot down, and the death of 18 U.S. soldiers, several of whose bodies were dragged through the streets of the capital. As a consequence, a year later Mr. Clinton hesitated to intervene in Rwanda despite intelligence before the height of the massacre that Hutu leaders were planning to eliminate all Tutsis. The result was a hemoclysm—a blood flood—of around a million dead. Mr. Clinton said it was one of the worst foreign-policy decisions of his eight years in office.

President Clinton might have benefited from Philip Mudd’s “The HEAD Game,” a book based on a program that the author developed during more than two decades at the CIA, the FBI and the National Security Council. The book title keys off Mr. Mudd’s acronym for his methodology: High Efficiency Analytic Decision-making (HEAD). When faced with an ocean of information or apparently conflicting data, Mr. Mudd says we—presidents, CEOs and the rest of us—need to ask a few fundamental questions. What is the problem? What are your “drivers,” the important characteristics that define your problem? How will you measure performance? What about the data collected in relation to the defined problem? Are you missing important information?"

and ends, "The HEAD Game” is not an academic work: It lacks an index and its bibliography is just a short list of related books. Mr. Mudd himself recommends Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow” as the masterpiece in the genre of decision-making psychology. But the author’s many personal experiences in facing real-world threats like al Qaeda terrorists does as much to illuminate the problem of making predictions before the fact as hundreds of academic experiments on undergraduates motivated by little more than beer money. As we face new perils like ISIS, whose explosive growth serves as another example in prediction failure discussed in the book, we would do well to ask the question Mr. Mudd poses to end his book: “Can you please point out an element or two of my analysis that seems weak, or reflects some sort of bias?”

To this, I would add two more statements we all should be willing to make: “I was wrong” and, especially, “I don’t know”."

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