As we climbed the steps, we were drawn in by the energy and the smiles of twenty-somethings genuinely glad to be exactly where they now were. The older, borrowed building seemed at first a contrast. Its stained glass and aged woodwork were reminiscent of, well, a regular church, but that impression faded in the background of the excited young people congregating within its walls.
Grace Capital City was now our son’s church, and we had looked forward to experiencing another part of his moved-to-DC life. I had already quizzed him with Dad-like questions on why he chose it, and his answers were typically thoughtful and concise: “I like the passion of the worship and the sense of community. The people are real, and they care about things.”
Hmm, sounds pretty good to me. Interesting what we can learn from Millennials.
Experiencing a Millennial Church
And it got better from there.
The thirty-something pastor delivered a strong message, not watered down for post-modern sensibilities. Man’s disobedience didn’t just happen; it is still happening. Jesus’ death is not a metaphor, and neither are the abuse, slavery, racism, and addiction in the world. They are all real.
Even the baptisms were real as young adults shared deeply personal stories of their return to faith. After each immersion, hugs and high fives mixed with tears of joy, from them and their friends. These young people genuinely cared for each other, and each baptism was a celebration.
Afterwards, our son told us about his House Church group which met weekly for worship, praying, eating, laughing, and encouraging. And sometimes played volleyball or went out together. This wasn’t a perfunctory gathering for I-go-to-church extra credit; it was living life together.
What We Can Learn From Millennials
- Worship – Corporate and personal offerings of love, gratitude, and adoration as a way to experience communion with God.
- Family – Being part of gatherings that allow people to be seen, valued, and known and representing the face of Jesus to the world.
- Justice – Encountering God’s heart for the poor, oppressed, vulnerable, and forgotten and fighting against injustice wherever it is found.
I flashed back to why my son said he was attracted to the church in the first place, for the passion of the worship, the sense of community, and people who are real and care about things.
And I wondered if many of us much older could benefit by thinking more about what we can learn from Millennials, and by asking ourselves questions such as:
- How passionate is our worship, and is it too-often automatic and less than heartfelt?
- How devoted are we to community and to living life together and valuing each other?
- Do we care, enough to do something, about those facing injustice in the world?
Thinking about those questions was both sobering and enlightening. And it reminded me that, if we pause to look around, it’s interesting what we can learn.
Question: Do you have an active focus on worship, family, and justice in your life?
Action: Pick one of those areas to pray about and work on in the coming months.