Millennials are leaving the church at an alarming rate. Some say as many as 70% leave the church after they graduate from high school. Older 20 and 30 something millennials are characterized as self-centered, selfish and immature when compared to the same age groups in other countries.
What has happened to this generation born from 1980-2000?
Some researchers have concluded that this generation spends more time with their peers than mature adults due to constant connections with cell phones and social media. According to Mark Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory University, “Never before in history have people been able to grow up and reach age 23 so dominated by peers. To develop intellectually you’ve got to relate to older people, older things: 17 year olds never grow up if they’re just hanging around other 17 year olds”. *
Millennials need more exposure to mature Christians
I have become alarmed because I see worldly trends creeping into our churches. One of these trends is called peer based teaching/learning. While studying Math Education in college, I learned about this method as an effective form of learning. According to the proponents of peer based teaching, students learn better from their peers rather than from adult teachers. Students are encouraged to teach other students in group learning experiences. This method may work in a math class, but I do not believe this applies to the church and Bible studies.
In large churches adult and student Bible studies are segregated by age. Not only are the attendees the same age, but the teachers are the same age as the students. I have seen college students teaching college students, 30 somethings teaching 30 somethings, etc. After studying the book of Titus, I have come to the conclusion that God did not design the church model in this way. The Bible instructs the older to teach the younger.
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored” Titus 2:3-5 (NASB).
“You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up” Deuteronomy 11:19 (NASB).
“My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother” Proverbs 1:8 (NKJV).
Not only does the Bible encourage the older to train the younger, but the young are advised to seek and not despise wise counsel. In our churches, we should try to integrate the ages more in our adult Bible studies. Rather than have a young mother teaching other young mothers, the older women should be teaching them. The older men should also instruct the young men. Even when a young person has much Bible knowledge, he/she will not have the spiritual wisdom of an older person. Does this mean that a peer should never teach another peer? Absolutely not, but I encourage Christians to sit under the teaching of someone older than them every once in a while. Why not try a mother/daughter or father/son Bible study? I am sure your teen would rather die than attend a Bible study with you, but think of the benefits he/she will reap from the cross generational learning.
God desires that Christians mature in their faith. We become mature in our faith by studying of the Word of God, prayer and learning from godly people. We can study the Bible on our own, but we will be more effective when we study under wise counsel. Our churches are filled with immature, carnal Christians. The carnal Christians will remain spiritually immature unless they are taught how to dig into the Word of God by a mature Christian. If we want to keep our church members from looking like the world, we need to train them how to grow in their faith. What better way to train them than with cross generational Bible studies.
* Stein, Joel. (May 20, 2013) Time Magazine, “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation”.
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