by Polly House
Churches today can no more ignore the Millennials than churches 40 years ago could ignore the Boomers. There are just too many of them!
Since you can’t ignore them, what do you do? You listen to them. You teach them the Bible without any sugar-coating. You love them.
Kairos is the young adult worship service of Brentwood (Tenn.) Baptist Church. Pastor Mike Glenn and some of his staff recognized the need for something that would appeal to the college, young adult and young professional crowd who lived in the Nashville area. Church as usual wasn’t doing it.
In 2004, they had their first Kairos service.
At first, Kairos (a Greek word meaning “right time”) had trouble finding any traction. They were doing all the stuff books said would attract these postmoderns: cool clothes, cool lighting, cool staging, cool speakers, etc. It wasn’t working.
Finally, a young man spoke up for the group about what they really wanted: the Bible. He told Glenn: “Read it to me; tell me what it means; and tell me how to do it.”
But Glenn protested, “That’s not creative.”
But he said again, “Read it to me; tell me what it means; and tell me how to do it.”
Then he added what Glenn called a heartbreaking truth: “We’ve never heard this before.”
They didn’t know the Bible. Many of them had grown up in church, albeit in churches where youth groups had majored on entertainment or just sat in a circle and talked about things going on in their lives.
These young adults wanted truth. Hardcore, in your face, unvarnished truth. Biblical truth.
They spoke the truths from their own lives too.
Once when Glenn was talking about loving and honoring parents, he could tell the crowd was tuning him out. So, he stopped. He got up from the stool, walked out and asked them why they weren’t engaged.
The proverbial can of worms opened.
One spoke of a father who had abandoned him, his mother and his siblings. Another spoke of abuse she suffered at the hands of her father from an early age. Another spoke of seeing a church ordain as a deacon the father
who had left his family for another woman.
They had a lot of stored-up hate toward their fathers, so why would they ever, ever honor men like that?
They had a real problem with God as “father.” Father was not a good word in their vocabulary.
Glenn knew this truth was not going to be easy to work through. But it had to be done.
Kairos is a new kind of church for Millennials, one with round tables instead of pews, conversations instead of sermons and answers to very hard questions. It just might be closer to the church of 2,000 years ago than most today.