You don’t need the fog and lights to get young people to show up in church.
I think what they want is real deep, authentic truth. Church leaders need to be authentic and vulnerable.
I see millennials getting back to this idea of narrative and story. It’s very popular in culture. The reason you like movies is because it’s a grand narrative of a beautiful story. I see that getting pulled back into the Christian faith, and it’s been radically missing.
The Christian faith I grew up with in the 1990s was mathematical, equation-based. You zoomed in on specific verses but had no idea what was going on from Genesis to Revelation. When I look at my generation, I see a little bit of a pull back looking to see how we fit into the grand story of Scripture. And that really excites me.
I grew up on the gospel bracelet evangelism. It’s a great tool in its context, but the gospel bracelet I wore started with the color black, which means it starts with sin. The first thing you’re telling people is you are a sinner. I think it was Dallas Willard who said when you start there, Jesus becomes nothing more than sin management.
I think you have to start with creation. Genesis 1 and 2 is jumping up and saying everything is working the way it’s supposed to be working. Everything’s beautiful. And then Genesis 3 happens. When you start with Genesis 1 and 2 and then Genesis 3 follows, Jesus becomes the restoration of all things.
That is a bigger God, a deeper God. It excites me when I see Jesus restoring the entire cosmos, the entire fabric of the world including us.
I’m not saying sin isn’t an issue. Sin is a toxin that affects every facet of the universe. Everything is broken because of sin. And only through Jesus can that restoration come.
I often tell people who are my age, “Don’t say no to the Jesus you think you grew up with. If you’re going to say no, at least see what He has to say, investigate Him.”
A lot of millennials don’t like to admit it, but when you start talking about Jesus, often they haven’t even read the Scriptures. I always tell them to start there. When you get on that pursuit of truth, I think you find Him.
Jefferson Bethke is an evangelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is author of the New York Times bestseller Jesus>Religion (Thomas Nelson). Article adapted from The Exchange webcast (EdStetzer.com/TheExchange).