Updated: May 29, 2019
I was sitting in a meeting at church, scanning the room for some resemblance of commonality amongst the group. It seemed odd to think this way considering that the extroverted side of this situation is usually as cool as a cucumber; but there it was...my thoughts. In wavering from the discussion of the group for a few seconds they [my thoughts] recognized an awkwardness that I can only describe as "I just can't put my finger on it."
As I peered at the diverse group I suddenly realized that of the 30 or so people in the room I was the only generation X or Millennial, depending on how you slice it! Eureka...that was it! I was not sitting among the diverse group that I thought I was and perhaps this was the cause of the strange feeling.
There were all sorts of people sitting around the table from native born American citizens to those who immigrated here. There were those who had grown up is this very church as oppose to the members who brought their growing families to the church. There were single parents, newly weds and newcomers amongst this group yet their presence didn't change the irony that I had stumbled upon.
The meeting room was packed with Cohorts and Dreamers, and so many [baby] Boomers that any concerns addressed at that time requiring a majority vote would only be skewed. So who was left? Generation X? or Y? It was those born of the Boomers who were missing amongst the group? Regardless of who was left, the presence of this elite group, or lack thereof, was dogg'on near obsolete!
The Plot Thickens
Hello [mic check]? Is this thing on? [so] Where have all the Millennials gone?
Normally I would wait until I get home to share the whirlwind of astonishing thoughts with my close circle however it was different. This time was different because:
#1 - I needed to 'mentally doodle' so that I could actively listen and tract the discussion in front of me,
#2 - Too many thoughts had come down the pipeline so I needed to file one or delete something,
#3 - Perhaps the irony of the situation was too much to keep to myself.
So, I did what any Next Gen would do in this situation; I texted my close circle.
"HEATHER, SARAH, DAWN, FAITH, WANDA, MINDY!"
This is my Christian community in action, my sisters in Christ. They are the ones who love me through chaos, cry with me through sorrow, and lift me up when I can't adult today. These ladies cheer for me when it's hard to believe in myself and even offer unbiased guidance when judgement is so easy. This community backs me up in public and will call me out when I'm wrong behind closed doors. Although listed last it's certainly not least especially considering it's always the first solution and without fail; even though we already know that His Will be done...we PRAY!
The text explained my 'aha moment' and posed a powerful question to all of them. "How many Millennials are present in your churches?" The responses fired back at me with disheartening and rapid blows.
I was devastated and disappointed at the thought of recognizing that our churches were missing diversity. Missing Millennials was mind-blowing and this off-kilter discovery was not simply the absence of a group; It was a void in the church that was just as invaluable as fire is believed to be to the elements of life.
The four elements of western culture are earth, air, water, and fire and each one brings a certain temperament and mystic character into the world. Earth, our foundation, is rich with instinct which is important for care and compassion of its people. Water is soft and reposed; our natural healer that is full of love, kindness and compassion. Although it is known as a bit of a free spirit, air is logical and profound in its love of liberty. Lastly there's fire, a symbol of light and God's glory in many scriptures in the bible. "...like a blazing fire," (Revelations 1:14, 19:12) reveals fire as God's wrath or judgement, something to be feared, while Matthew and Luke portray fire as the actions of God. The book of Acts seems to be the most fulfilling as it regards fire as the manifestation of God by stating, "tongues of fire" then adds, "filled with the Holy Spirit." Fire had then become a complementing element of the Trinity.
The characteristic nature of fire as the desirable, unpredictable, and emotional is important to the other elements. It is simply the soul of 3 very powerful sources that would leave the others blind in its absence. Just as medicinal as prescribed burning is fire reduces weeds, that can be detrimental to growth, and it helps restore nutrients so that more desirable plant growth can occur.
The message that inspired a simple, yet profound text is this: When there is an integral piece of the puzzle missing, our thinking or perspective in the church becomes narrow. Essentially our understanding and application of the bible becomes stagnant. Is this so far-fetched considering the dynamics of thriving churches today? Are they full of Baby Boomers and Cohorts (no) or are they a beautiful sea of diversity (yes)?
So, I asked my circle...my sisters, not just "where have all the Millennials gone," but also, "what are we going to do about it?"