Are Millennials Lost or Enlightened?

November 3rd, 2011 / 68 Comments

A recent Pew poll shows significant gaps between younger and older Americans. Some of those gaps pertain to ethical issues many consider central to Christian faith.

The Pew poll’s primary aim was to gauge political similarities and differences. For instance, polls show the overwhelming majority of Millennials (those coming into adulthood in the new millennium) as supporting the reelection of Barack Obama. The majority of older folks — Baby Boomers and the Silent generation — want change in the US presidency. Polls show that most older Americans would vote for Mitt Romney instead of Obama.


The statistics I thought most interesting pertained to views of same-sex marriage, abortion, war, and the environment.

On the question of whether gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry legally, 59% Millennials and 50% of GenXers were in favor. But only 42% of Boomers and only 33% of the Silent generation were in favor of same-sex marriage, and most were against the practice.

What does this mean? Is there a diminishing of Christian values among younger Americans? Or are younger Americans following a fresh leading of the Holy Spirit?

I was surprised to see that the majority of Americans in all four generational categories believe abortion should remain legal in the United States. I don’t know what this means, but it is not good news for those who want abortions banned.

I was not surprised, however, that the majority in all four generational categories think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not worth fighting. I’ve noticed public sentiment largely in opposition to these military conflicts. It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out in the presidential races.

I was also not surprised that younger people in America are largely in favor of environmental regulations and think global warming must be addressed. The gap between younger and older Americans on this set of issues is quite large. Might this mean Christian Millennials are concerned with peripheral issues, or does it mean older Christian Americans need to “get on board” with God’s work to save the planet?

Religious Affiliation

One other particularly interesting set of statistics pertained to the religious affiliation of various generations. The surveys showed that 26% of Millennials responded as religiously unaffiliated, 21% of GenXers, 15% of Boomers, and just 10% of Silents. In other words, the younger a person is, the less likely that person will identify him or herself with a religion.

Does the relative lack of religious affiliation by Millennials mean their views on same-sex marriage and the environment have not been properly nurtured by religious communities? To ask this question a slightly different way, would Millennials think more like Boomers and Silents if they showed up for worship services more often?

Or should we think religious communities have not adapted well to the ethical convictions of Millennials and Xers? Could the views of Millennials represent a new form or authentic religiosity that congregations should be embracing?

I’m still searching for fully satisfying answers to my own questions. At the least, however, I’m more confident than ever the views of my younger university students often differ from views my parents held on Christian ethics issues.

Add comment


Talitha Edwards

I am not sure such narrow topics can really tell much about the experience of Millennials regarding the Church. Although the trend of postmodernist thought makes it harder for modernist churches to relate well to those who have been influenced by postmodernism.
On a different note, I do not think that simply attending worship services would necessarily change anything, though it might. I think the Church needs to be more intentional about discipleship and that effort is far more likely to be impactful than a worship service.

Cody Marie Bolton

Dr. Oord, I believe this is a concern that the older generations need to address in the church. Something I have noticed in the church is that for a long time, the older generations are overpowering and en-crouching on a young person’s spiritual life to the point where instead of guiding them, they chase young people away.

I think that the older generation might actually be partly to blame. Not all to blame, but partly. I think that the older generation needs to re-look at how they react when young people do attend church and to be grateful that they are there instead of getting into young people’s personal space.

However, I believe the biggest reason that young people do not associate themselves with any religion is that society as a whole is stepping away from Christian values and values that were in place when the Silents and the Boomers had when they were young. More things are becoming more and more acceptable that were NEVER acceptable before.

Thanks for sharing this information!

Chad Bryan

As a Millennial, none of these statistics surprise me. Between keeping President Obama in office, supporting same-sex marriages, & environmental issues, I think it’s more of an issue of being dissatisfied with how these offices and issues have been handled in the past. President Obama represents change—and we believe him when he says it’s going to take more time to see the changes we believe in (I’d rather vote out stubborn members of congress than a progressively thinking president). Most of us have gay or lesbian friends we love & want to support. We see that the earth is being used & abused and we could really see the end of our natural resources if we don’t make significant changes immediately (even if that means paying more for things or buying less of others).
It’s not that our morals are out the window, but we’ve been brought up with a view of religion as legalism (which, unfortunately, has been viewed as hypocrisy in many of our churches or homes). Whether it’s for better or worse, perhaps we’re wanting to err on the side of grace and love (or anything that looks like CHANGE). We’re not going to win the hearts of our gay friends to Jesus by drawing lines in the sand and wagging our fingers at their lifestyle.
We are also still hungry for God, but we want to seek Him in new ways than what was handed to us.
To me it is obvious that neither “side” of the gap has these matters figured out in a way that is incredibly productive or effective right now, and perhaps, the millenials need to have as much grace for the boomers as they do for their gay/lesbian friends, but I can tell you that the boomers are going to have an impossible time if their goal is to get the millennials to vote like them, do church like them, or squeeze them into a mold to get our lives to look like theirs.

Jordan Iwami

It seems what you are describing is very similar to the modern/postmodern issue. The younger generations have been formed and reared in a postmodern world. In general many churches have attempted to resist postmodern thought and as such are out of touch with younger generations. I think this is directly related to the statistics that you mentioned.

Daniel Fruh

I too wonder why we are experiencing these major shifts in society and thought. I think technology plays a large part in it. The ability to instantly share information to anywhere and anyone allows us to share ideas and philosophies – good or bad – in an entirely new way with less accountability. The rise in individualism allows young and sometimes unwise people to think whatever they wish – and they can actually make a big difference via the internet. I am sure that fuels the dichotomy we are seeing.

Nichole Henselman

I definitely thought this was an interesting topic. Although, it doesn’t surprise me that the millennial generation is different from the older generations. We are living in a different society and are raised on different things than that of those who are in older generations.
On the other hand, I am very surprised at my generation on the need to re-elect Obama. In fact I am kind of saddened by that. The people I talk about seem to not want Obama back in the office at all because of what a disappointment he turned out to be. So that was particularly surprising to me.
I think the other things mentioned was not really a surprise. It just seems to be where we are headed in our politics. And sadly, it doesn’t surprise me that more people in the millennial generation are saying they aren’t religiously affiliated. More and more people these days aren’t being raised in the church. Or they don’t have good experiences in church when they grew up and so they left the church. There are many causes of this and I personally think a lot of the fault lays on the Church (capital C).
Good blog topic Dr. Oord!

Joshua Farmer

These statistics do not surprise me because all of the issues that are supported by the millennials are strongly promoted by the media. I think that the millennials respond and stand firm on whatever the media says is right or wrong. In the past ten years the biggest issues in the media have been pro-choice, anti-war, eco-friendly, anti-religion, and individualism. Older generations tend to have more experience of how society works and they tend to listen to several different points of view before they decide their position. I think that with the busyness of our American society, there is a lack of research when it comes to political issues. We would much rather support the popular view rather than research the issues ourselves. The popular view is usually that which is promoted by the media.

David Hawley

I want to defend agaist the notion that the millenials are becoming less moral or less Christian. I believe that the millenials, having grown up with these issues in more of a spotlight, have had to come to terms with them much differently that the boomers. The sheer amount of press on these issues has played an enormous role. I also see the age old swing of the cultural pendulum. Coming from the ridged church going boomer generation the millenials are now turning away from those ways to try to find a better way than they have seen. I don’t know if I can say that the millenials are more enlightened but as the pendulum swings further from the boomers the things we value are inevitably going to change as well.

Mark Wade

I do not think that millennials are neither lost or enlightened in any full sense of those terms. I think that humanity through time has had new and different ways to think about things, especially religion that is informed by society and the context in which they live. No group, whether defined by age or something else, has everything completely right. They all probably do or believe things that are off base and they all probably have beliefs that are good and true.

John W. Dally


These statistics are important. They provide a view of our world we Christians cannot ignore. As I have listened to many of those who speak from the progressive side, their message is often encapsulated in Christian views. If I lived in a part of the world where I worked by the sweat of my brow to keep the man who lived on the hill living in luxury, I would be very depressed. Now, a person comes to me and says, “You see that man on the hill? He has gotten rich off of your hard labor. I propose that he share what he has so that people are treated fairly.”  A second man comes and says, “You see that man on the hill, living in luxury?  I propose a way that you can one day live the same way. It will be up to you to make that change by working harder but, you too have the opportunity to live a life of luxury.”  Now, which one would I follow?  The first man (a Marxist)or the second one (a capitalist)? 

The problem is that the millennials are exposed to arguments that are noble. The failure is that in real life, in a sinful world, they just don’t work. All one has to do is look at Communism. It has failed. Socialism has failed everywhere it has been tried.  Yet, they sound noble. 

Therefore, we cannot judge the merits of the millennials’ understanding of how the world SHOULD work. We just need to do a better job of explaining why the noble ideals do not work in the real world.

This is what Jesus did. He said the poor will always be with you.  He did not stand up against the Roman’s. He did not speak out against slavery. He did not try to change his world through political speeches and movements. He accepted the world he lived in as a reality that the fledgling movement had to face. He then worked on the hearts of the people. Even at that, he did not succeed, he died alone on a cross. It was only by the Holy Spirit that the real “Change and Hope” begin to become a reality.

Between the schools (taught by many of the ‘60 progressives) and the media (more mellennials get their news from John Stewart more than any news source), we as the Church need to be relevant, show the big picture, and show that change comes through loving God and our neighbors. Not the ballot box.

Greg Borger

These statistics are not surprising to me. Every generation shifts. What surprises me is that in the CotN, a church that champions love supreme, there seems to be no significant voice that is speaking out for equality on behalf of LGBTQ. At the risk of sounding like old timer I quote the Black Eyed Peas “Where is the Love?”

DinkyDau Billy

Millennials. Huh. There seems to be a lot of concern about the Millennials. It gives me the impression that the ‘unchurched’ of the Boomer and Silents have been written off. I am not sure if I am one of the first Boomers, or one of the last of the Silents … but since I am far from Silent, I must be a Boomer. I dunno. What I do know is that I am an old gasbag and that I move fairly comfortably from one social generalization to another.

Aa casual examination of comments on Facebook and other social networks demonstrates that Millennials can be as intransigently judgmental and as viciously self-righteous as any of their predecessors. Which isn’t surprising, since those traits are part and parcel of the human condition.

As for specifics … I find rabid hatred of the general Christian bent toward homosexuality to be an insult to Christ’s teachings. In this, I tend to agree with the Millenniums and their view of the Church Universal’s position. Let me ask this: What is the COTN’s position regarding ordination of a gay or lesbian pastor? Is the ‘homosexual nature’ in and of itself that abhorrent sin? Or is it the practice of homosexual behaviors? What would be the COTN position toward ordaining a gay or lesbian pastor who was celibate? How does the COTN respond to a single, heterosexual Millennial pastor who, if not cohabiting with his/her squeeze, goes off on those long ski weekends with him/her? If the COTN will ordain a single heterosexual pastor, does the COTN not expect that pastor to remain celibate? Why not, then, a gay/lesbian pastor? Define the ‘abhorrent sin’ a little rationally for me. Please. I’m having a hard time working up the proper level of hatred, here.

While I supported the Afghan adventure, which centered on nailing the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to the proverbial cross (but not The Cross), I think we are making a big mistake with this ‘nation-building’ adventure. Page Smith, in his “A New Age Now Begins”, describes his view of why American republican democracy works for us, and how circumstances combined in a unique way for that seed to germinate. None of that exists in the Middle East. (We might re-examine how and why McArthur’s reconstruction of Japan, also a very alien culture, was so successful, but that’s another story).

Abortion? That’s not the government’s business. It’s a religious and theological thing. The Republicans need to keep their religion out of their politics. Perry is in lockstep with his preacher, John Hagee, who is as hateful an excuse for a ‘Christian’ as you will find anywhere (and so I too exercise judgmentalism) and so long as Perry cannot separate Hagee from the Perry Political Agenda, Perry will never have my vote.

Millenniums tend to support President Obama and his agenda. I also notice that the majority of the Occupiers seem to fall into the Millennials’ age range. I don’t support the Occupiers. I have yet to hear anything from them, no matter how ‘intellectually’ they try to frame it, that is not some form of whine about why the government and/or the rest of us owe them something. I guess I’m an old enough gasbag that that’s a dog that just don’t hunt very well. OTOH … Mitt Romney? Why, the man is a Mormon. Most ‘Christians’ I know consider him to be a heretic. Further OTOH, so is Glen Beck a Mormon, yet the same people who regard Mormons to be heretics and non-Christians are eating out of Beck’s hands and more or less worshipping at his feet of clay.

There is little rational thinking politically or religiously these days.

Perhaps that is the unchanging quality of it all?

Faith Stewart

Any time we pit, even for argument or statistical sakes, one against the other there is an issue in that we fail to recognize that in the ‘otherness’ of the other we ourselves have something to learn of value. The cultural shift of the Millennials does not need to be feared by the Silent or the Boomer generations. There were things that were damaging, ideas and directions inside and outside of the church, with serious consequences, as there probably will be with the mentality of the Millennials. It isnt fair to boil it all down to cultural reaction or a reaction to a reaction, but perhaps society is learning and growing and so is the church in new and different ways. It may be that 50 years from now the Millennials children will be searching for a new way of being. My question in regaurds to religiosity is that is the essence of what God and the Church is working towards being worked against in Millennialist ideals, in some way perhaps, but the same could also be said for the Boomers and the Silent. What I would like to know is why the Church tends to act like discussion and the direction in these decisions is going to lead to its extinction. If the Church is the Church then isnt the good being worked towards in all things. The question then becomes, what is the good. If it is to give freedom and Life (like that of the Incarnation) in the advancing of the Imago Dei, then discussing these issues is important, but often the manner in which we do so is more important.

Chad Bryan

I absolutely agree with Faith. I think, perhaps, the biggest mistake that I’m seeing rampant amongst my fellow Millennials (even to the point of being a pitfall that could be incredibly damaging to the future of Church) is the lack of appreciation & honor for the heritage & momentum that the previous generation has set in motion. Although we may want things to look different within the context of Church/lifestyle/our personal values compared to our parents’, we MUST come to a point of AT LEAST honoring those who’ve journeyed before us. To walk away & cease discussion is to divorce us from the story that we’ve been drawn into. We may not be happy with what we’ve been given, but that is where we need to learn to think like we are Sons & Daughters of the King and have these conversations with those that have carried the mantle before us. If we were able to receive from them the wisdom & impartations that they have received from their previous generations & (most importantly) from God’s Spirit, then we would truly be able to be iron sharpening iron—in which both “irons” recognize that both are indeed “iron” & that both could receive some “sharpening” and learn & receive from either side—because we are The Church. We are a family. To walk away from this sharpening process—to disregard the conversations (that may end in disagreement)—would be an injustice to both parties. May our prayer be that the Spirit make the path known. We are in this together!

Roman Lyon

Although I am not surprised about any of these statistics, I do think this is a problem concerning the disconnect between generations. It seems to me like millenials want to be as individualistic as possible. As a generation we seem to want to figure things out on our own and figure out a “better” way to live and help the world. However, I believe we need to work together as generations and learn from each other. We need to consider that those who are older than us will usually have a better understanding at how the world works so we can learn from them. Also, as Christians, I think we need to do a better job at connecting the generations. The baby boomer generation almost seems intimidated by the millenials and the millenials seem to think that they have it all together. But if we can learn to learn from one another then I think these issues will become less of a problem as we make it more clear as to what is “right ” and “wrong.”

James Hardy

This may be reading too much into the statistics or misinterpreting the world around me, but it seems as though we are on the verge of a drastic change in American culture and especially within the Church.  As others have already noted in these comments, the move from modernity to postmodernity is probably fueling the way that young people think and act and that is flowing over into the way everyone lives.  Though I would not consider myself a futurist, if I were to venture a guess I would say that opinions on political and social issues are not the only things that are changing.  The way we think, believe, behave, participate in politics, engage in social issues, and even live as Christians is going to be different in 50 years.

Jarrod Anderson

This is an interesting blog topic indeed. I feel like there is little surprise to how older generations view topics differently than younger generations. I also feel that culture has changed drastically between the generation gaps. This affects the way millennials view the world and those of the silent generation. Also want to say the environment in which people are raised in affects their view on these topics. Now that is going far deeper and more impossible form for this blog, but is something to ponder about.
Anyways I wouldn’t want to say that millennials are lost or enlightened, but have grown up in a time where other issues seem more pressing. That a dialogue needs to happen between the generations in reasoning and understanding.

Andrew Sinift

Honestly, I believe that every generation is unique in many ways – including their beliefs on various issues. That does not mean that one group is necessarily wrong and the other is necessarily right. A lot of it is just different emphases. A lot of times, this is caused by the push back of each generation. For example, my parent’s generation was much more strict/legalistic—probably too much so. My generation is pushing back against that and so tends to be much more “loose” and is willing to let more things go. In all honesty, both generations have issues. Past generations I would say are too legalistic and need to take a lesson in love while I would argue that my generation is too tolerant in the sense that we believe that we have to accept a person’s actions in order to love them. Both generations can and should learn from the strengths and weaknesses of the other.

Lucas Reding

I don’t find it surprising that there is such a large gap between the way the different generations view social and ethical issues. Times are changing, always have been, always will be. I wouldn’t be surprised if generation x and the silent generation disagreed on issues with their older generations as our younger generations do with them. Also, I am not quick to say the younger generations views on certain issues such as same-sex marriage, war, and abortion are caused by their lack of church attendance, neither can I say it is the Holey Spirit. Of the two, I would lean towards the Spirit, but also stake it on the fact that younger generations these days are more willing to be tolerate and practice acceptance.

Joshua Mast

One of the biggest things that really stood out pertains to one specific word: “…have not been properly nurtured by religious communities?”
Well surely the Millennials have been nurtured – that is inevitable. But “properly” has such large weight in the question that it changes the direction of the question altogether; it even suggests the condition and status of the religious communities. Personally, I push the blame on the religious communities adapted by the Boomers and Silents, despite the fact I side more with them. I think they truly have done a poor job of properly nurturing us, giving us merely the “rights and wrongs” and not enough of the “why’s”. It is not much of a surprise the results these polls yield, but I do think many things need be reconsidered that are both directly and indirectly influencing all that are involved within such statistics.

Kaylee Bunn

I tend to think the views the millennials tend to have toward these issues is a reflection of our reaction toward the church culture we stepped into. Many millennials have witnessed churches that have been at fault for being too rigid, and in this have failed to adequately love the people around them. Thus, we have emerged as a generation that is desiring to rectify the problems/rifts created by those who came before us. Additionally, we are operating from a place of being heavily influenced by the postmodern movement. Postmodernism brings a new acceptance of challenging tradition and cultural norms. In light of these factors, it does not surprise me at all that these differences exist between the generations. However, I agree with Emma in predicting the future to be one in which church-goers find a more moderate view on many issues. It seems that a rejection of absolute truth can only last for a season before the people feel the dearth of truth and come back to middle ground.

Betsy Hillman

Honestly, most of this does not surprise me at all. I believe that my generation, inside or outside the church, is looking for change. Actually, we are demanding it. We recognize the mistakes of our parents and grandparents. My question in all of this is, what are we going to do about? We can moan and groan all we want. But if we are not willing to take a stance and take action for our convictions. We are no different than our parents. And it is more than voting for who we want as president. It is time we take action. Teach our parents and the next generation what it means to be Jesus to the whole.


I just think my generation is looking for change. I think in a lot of cases we have seen the way things have gone in the past generations on different issues such as war and marriage and we haven’t liked what we have seen. I think we have seen the fruitlessness of war, and are looking for change. I think we have seen the flippancy towards marriage, even in the Church, and we are looking for something different. I think the Church has sadly lost a lot of its authority on marriage given the divorce rate statistics within the Church. Not to mention the less than oustanding response of much of the Church towards the homosexual population. I think my generation has seen a lack of christ’s love in this attitude and again we look for something different. The results of these issues has made the advice of the Church a voice that falls upon deaf ears.

kristin lfg

I cannot speak for my generation, but I do tend to embrace a more compassionate outlook towards different views and issues than my grandparents and even my parents.  I grew up in the deep south, very indoctrinated in the church, but as I grow older, i find that many christians I affiliated with as a teen are very hateful in their views of the world.  I cannot support, even with my presence, the atmosphere of violence, hate, and downright discrimination that older self-proclaimed christians tought as truth from the pulpit, in living rooms, and generally in daily life.  This has in large part led me away from my family and the church.  Since I was a young teen, I have yearned for open dialogue of this with these people close to me, but the more I seek personal opinions from my elders, the more hostility that pours forth. For me, this is the biggest reason I stay out of church and have an exaggerated distrust of self-proclaimed christians who offer misguided direction for our future.  I am tired of being assualted as the scapegoat for older christians, when all I really want from them is compassionate dialogue based in intellect instead of fear and ignorance.  Everyone’s reality is not the same, and all of our truths are relevant.  Until we can openly discuss these things in relation to thelogy and real life in conjunction with addressing pertinent needs of society, there will always be the so-called generational gap between our views of the world.

Steven Coles

I am glad that I am apart of the generation that I am. Even though we are for social change and even questioning certain things in the church, I still think we have a lot to learn from our elders. My generation tends to forget ourselves. I am not saying we need to be selfish, I am saying that our search for holiness can be put on the back burner if we are not careful. I personally think that seeking a holy lifestyle will produce feelings in us that lead us to advocate for the broken and the lost. My generation is good about helping others but we forget about the power Christ has and, the simple fact is that Christ can heal others in a way we cannot. We can try, but we cannot fully heal or change them.

Rachael Snyder

I think the question for Millennials has really become one of which ethical issues should be legislated and which issues should be prioritized. For example, ethically I do not support abortion. However, I realize that the best way to prevent abortion is not to make it illegal. This actually exacerbates the issue. Providing education and better access to birth control/emergency contraceptives lowers abortion rates significantly more than making abortion illegal. Just because one believes something is wrong does not mean the most effective or moral thing is to outlaw that immoral thing. Millennials are more willing to creatively engage social issues because they realize laws deal with people, not robots. They see that the way the past generations have handled ethical issues and law have not promoted the best for society. Millennials also realize that feeding and clothing the people in our nation might be more important than arguing about whether or not human beings should legally marry whomever they wish. To millennials, this is a common sense issue – of course non-heterosexual people should have the same rights as heterosexual people. Quit arguing about it, and let’s move on, say the Millennials. It’s simply a matter of different priorities. Older generations are more comfortable with things staying the same; Millennials see change as a solution, not ardently clinging to methods that have not worked in the past.

Robbie Schwenck

These statistics don’t really surprise me much. What this seems to say to me is that Millennials are thinking about these issues and trying to make changes for the better. I don’t think the gap between older and younger Americans is as much a difference in the morals of the people as it is a difference in the overall culture of the U.S. As our culture continues to change, Millennials are forced to make changes and reconcile what might seem to be differences in values between older and younger Americans. Similarly, I think this is more about growth and change as a culture than it is about change in Christian ethics.

Jonathon Wren

I too have noticed this to be the case.  My generation seems to be less and less religious, and more and more open to new ideas and “liberal” thought.  There is a general push away from the church because of their ideas.  Many Baby Boomer and Silent generations push judgment on the younger people and this causes them to push away from the church and get burned by the church.  This then causes a major issue and the development of more liberal thought!  If I am being judged by the church, I will then believe things they hold to be “bad”. They are way more open to liberal thought and thus, get pushed from the church even more so.  We questions everything as a postmodern generation and this leads to liberal thought in certain instances.  Traditional, older generations deem this bad and thus causes the separation and push towards a non religious movemet.

Megan Krebs

In some sense, this divergence from the past is not all that radical. Whether it was the free love generation of the 70s, the greasers of the 50s, or the flappers of the 20s, it seems that every few generations a major shift in the generational culture occurs. However, I think this millennial generation bears a closer resemblance to the norms and ideals of the 70s “radicals.” Within both generations there is simultaneously a great desire to redefine the world and how people interact in tension with a large percentage who have no interest outside of pure pleasure. Many of the millennial generation have grown up dealing with issues beyond their age. It was this generation that watched the Twin Towers fall and saw a world they barely knew transform into what it is today. It was this generation that came up with an overwhelming percentage of divorced parents, redefining what it means to be family. This generation saw an unprecedented amount of their peers “coming out” publicly and embracing their sexuality, even if it wasn’t considered a “norm.” On many fronts, I believe these unique perspectives are offering what is needed—real consideration to hard questions. This generation knows that answers of the past are not correct simply because they “worked”. There are positive and negative possible consequences to such disillusionment, but I think it can offer a breath of fresh air to questions that demand new responses.

Topher Taylor

I don’t think this is necessarily a matter of lost or enlightened, to me it is more neither, as we just simply are. Looking at the cyclical nature of generations we see that we are just falling into the same gaps that that come into play every 20 years or so. Nothing in this blog should be that surprising but it may raise a ton of questions to consider. I mean really there aren’t very many hard statements but there are questions that just linger. I think for the most part Millennials look at a system that seems to be failing them and maybe the rest of society so what we really just want is change. If nothing changes then we are just heading down the same dreadful path and I don’t think that is where we want to end up. So maybe some think their parents got things wrong with same-sex marriage, or abortion, and the environment, and they want to make their life count for something. The church should take a stand on some issues but they shouldn’t remain ignorant or naïve when it comes to environmental issues or warring conflicts. So in a sense we are lost because we are looking for where we fit but we also feel enlightened because we are trying to make our ethic and our faith actually match up. And many Millennials are finding spirituality outside of the church because the Church, to many, has failed and I don’t know how exactly it can be fixed.

Nichelle Sisk

As a millennial myself of course I want to say that millennials have seen the light and are not lost.  I have to say that I am not really surprised about any of the statistics.  I think that the lack of religious affiliation doesn’t really have much to do with millennials views on same-sex marriage, abortion, war, and the environment, because I think that millennials that do have a religious affiliation also have these views and opinions.  I don’t think that if millennials went to church more that they would have the closer views to the Boomers and Silents, because I think that the millennials have more of a theology of a loving and accepting God rather than a God of rules.

Nicholas Carpenter

Pertaining to the surprise issue, part of me feels as though many young people are taking sides with issues that seem to be contrary to what their parents believe possibly to establish themselves as different from their parents. Yet the more optimistic side of me believes this is a new age and way to thinking about Church and God coming to life here in a way that might not be fully understood yet but has amazing potential. Hopefully the young generation continues to learn, growth, and discuss as they figure out what it means not just to be a Christian in today’s world but to be the new leaders of the Church.


To answer one of the many questions you posed: Would Millennials think more like Boomers and Silents if they showed up for worship services more often? My answer: absolutely not. For most, the time spend immersed in American culture far exceeds the time spend in Kingdom culture. Even still, as one lives into Kingdom values it is quickly recognized that postmodernity’s values often align with what Jesus preached quite well. As such it would behoove the leaders of American churches to heed the life of many Millennials, balance that against the life of Jesus, and marvel at the similarities.

Aaron Moschitto

I think we are lost and enlightened. The truth is we have an unprecedented access to information, which has led to enlightenment in some ways. In a country that stands for “liberty and justice for all” a majority of millennials see an inconsistency with that statement and keeping homosexual marriage illegal. As they see the inconsistency with United States and Christian nation. In this way I would say that we are enlightened. I think these are healthy responses to these issues because they raise valid points. They help to correct some of inconsistencies that the previous generations didn’t see. However, I think we are lost as well. In general, we see information as equally authoritative, which means religion for many doesn’t have a special say in their life. It also allows truth to be relative. Religion is compared to the likes of science and philosophy, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it reveals the assumptions made by some of the previous generations in these areas. I think millennials represent the generation furthest away from the modern age, which is where much of these differences possibly arise. So I think we are enlightened in helpful ways, but some of the enlightenment has left us lost…

Amina Chinnell-Mateen

It doesn’t surprise me that the overall numbers and statistics from the past have moved along with the thoughts and ideas of generations of the now. Over time there will always be shifts in opinion, in motives, and in thinking which reflects how a generation will think and react to society. The statistics above accurately show just is what I am saying. It doesn’t matter if one if from the 80’s or the 30’s different social norms and ideas were broadcasted and thought through. radical. While this is true, I tend to think this millennial generation bears a closer resemblance to the norms and ideals of the 70’s and those thinkers within. Both generations express ideals that were similar and caused for people to engage with society, and often times resulting in perhaps not the best of situations. Different insights such as these no matter how hard it may be to speak about and come to life with, still actively called for progress. Times are changing, so are people it’s time we pay attention to perhaps why different ideas apply in the same ways.

Lisah Malika

First of all, I would like to make the claim that there is an adaptation of thought from generation to generation. We are creatures that are constantly changing, adapting,and growing. As you can you can see from the statistics given above, there has been a drastic adaptation of thought between the 3 generations. Now, having said that, I believe that individuals are influenced by the experiences they have. Millennials have experienced many societal shifts that the older generations did not, and as result their process of thought has changed radically. As a millennial, I believe that my generation often looks to the past and sees all the things the generations before us did wrong, but we sometimes forget or choose not to see the positives. In our attempt to make sure the same mistakes are not repeated we choose to make polarized decisions in hopes that a change will occur. I applaud my generation for desiring a change,a change to better the environment and world;my fear is that we are slowly becoming a generation with many causes/movements that have no real significance. What impact is a movement if its heart isn’t centered in Christ.

Oscar Diaz

“Or are younger Americans following a fresh leading of the Holy Spirit?” This is an intriguing thought for me because I haven’t thought this scenario accruing in todays society. I believe that millennials have smaller walls between each other, they tend to be open to others and their beliefs unlike the previous generations who condemned and martyred those that held their faith in a different denomination let alone outside Christianity. I believe this is a fresh scent of the Holy Spirit for these reasons i have stated.

James Shepherd

This article brings up things that we should be talking about in Church, because they are issues this country is facing now. Do to this I think the millennia’s are the most willing to speak out on these issues because most have been brought up in environment where we don’t talk about these types of things. However, it is troubling to hear that most wont claim a religion. If I were to offer up an idea it would be like this; they don’t want claim a religion because they are not sure what to believe, or they are not even sure if there is a God. Both are viable ideas, and both may be completely wrong.  I think the millennial’s could be a breath of fresh air for the Church, because they ask questions of what has come before them/us. We don’t necessarily want to change things; we want to understand what has been done before. This is not to say millennial’s are perfect, because their not, this is to say that look at all the things they could do if people could/would give them a chance.

Nick McCall

Dr. Oord,

I think you post is an interesting topic to consider. When thinking about political views, I tend to think of my own Generation as being much more “open” to new ideas which is a good thing, and a bad thing all at once. We tend to care less for tradition and care more about what we want to do in the present. As for me, being someone going into vocational ministry, I worry about the Church. I worry that church is becoming less and less of a major priority for people because they feel they are too busy, or would rather sleep in. As for matters such as abortion, I am not real worried. In conversations that I have had, most people in my generation are less worried about the rights of the mother and more concerned with the human life abortion is taking. My generation will do some great things in the world (we already are) but I am also worried about us. Praise God that the world is in the Lord’s hands!

Daniel Parker

This data is interesting and I wonder how much the environment has changed over these few short years from when this article was posted and the data collected. But with just this information I wonder if the ethical values of the younger generations on same-sex marriage have anything to do with the rising debate and coverage of this issue? I also wonder why there has been a decline in people who claim a religious affiliation over the years when we are supposedly going into a more spiritually minded age?

Kaitlyn Haley

In the church there is a lot of talk about how millennials are simply leaving the church. There is also a lot of discussion on how we can “get them back.” But what if we were instead to think about why they are leaving. Maybe it’s because they value something that the church should also value. I think this generation tends to think of humanity in more general terms. They tend to think of the unifying factors instead of the divisions. While this is not always helpful, sometimes it is quite helpful. I think mellennials would appreciate the church much more if the church focused on unifying humanity instead of dividing it.

Angela Monroe

It is difficult to know how to respond to this post. I am in this new generation, and am dealing with many of the same questions. While I tend to side with my peers, it is difficult for me to process how these views have been so dramatically changed.

My theology is much different than my mom’s. She is in support of war and patriotism, and she is completely anti-gay. I, on the other hand, do not agree with her on these subjects. I believe that I am following the views that God would call me to have. However, I do not discredit my mom as a Christian. I genuinely believe that she is one of the most Godly people I know, and she would not believe anything she thought to be in contrast to what God says. So which of us is right?

I do not know that we will ever know the answer to this question. I do not believe that we will know which is the right stance on these issues and which is wrong. It seems that we are all a little lost. But I hope that we are also enlightened.

Ryan O’Neill

I think there are a few things about this article that stand out the most to me. First of all, I feel like there is a vast separation between the different generations. Each one wants to bring on its own form of identity to its time, and I feel like that identity comes with a more postmodern mindset as time goes on. The other thing I noticed was when you talked about environments not being nurtured by religious communities. I am wondering if the Millennials have the hardest time connecting with the church, being in a time where it might be harder to thrive in a religious atmosphere. This no doubt has an effect on the way they feel about current events.

Connor White

Although no one appears to have an exact definition for “postmodern”, we now live in a world that no longer is full of answers but desire simply to ask “why?” I believe that’s a major difference between my generation and older generations. We are seeking to understand why people are homosexual, why people have abortions (individual case to individual case), why we are going to war, and why we need to value our environment. We want to know why and we are open to solutions to these problems being different then what has been passed on generation to generation. The desire to know “why” rather than having scripted solutions to everything this world presents us has revealed new ways of living, ways that are not unfaithful to God, but are different than what older generations are used too. I’ll speak for those of my generation that I know and love…we really want to love people, love God, and live lives with purpose and we are ready and willing to do things differently in order to do those things.

Valerie Wigg

I would agree with Aaron Moschitto that millennials are both lost and enlightened. Lost because we have deep, intense convictions to talk about issues relating particularly to humanity and the wholeness of persons with a reaction from older generations that screams “Heathans!” Enlightened because the world is experiencing new and fresh love as a result of this person-centric generation versus the more doctrine-centric or law-centric ones. I cannot say whether we are doing things the right way, but I can say that millennials are doing things the more loving way. Is this not the more Christlike way? Millennials sense the tensions and sometimes even contradictions between governmental laws and Christian values. Our allegiance is not to a flag or country but to Jesus Christ, our Savior. This, in turn, implies that we are to love our neighbors, not ostracize and kill them. I personally have a struggle with the reality of violence in our world as I believe many people in my generation do. We want to rid of the negativity and focus on loving persons whether what they are doing is right or not. Does this make us lost as Christians? Maybe. Is “enlightened” a valid title for millennials? Most definitely.

Kristina Wineman

Something that has skewed our way of thinking is believing that is it okay to change our theologies based upon what is relevant to us. Our God does not change. The context in which we view God may change, but that doesn’t mean God and that which is true, changes. I think in an answer to your questioned title, millennials are starting to become lost in that sense.

Thomas Tilford

Interesting Tom,

I am not so sure what the correlation here is. I think the strongest one to be made is that kids who move away from church don’t hold on to some traditional values. Of course correlation is no causation. I think the reasons are not so much religious but socio-political. I think kids are motived in response to older generation more than to religious practices. That is merely a hunch at best though

Rachel Ball

I have definitely thought of this phenomenon before. The way I see it sometimes is similar to the hippies in the 1970’s. It started with young people who had entirely different views on a vast many things. I believe that as time progresses, thinking changes and realizations are made.Perhaps there is something to new ideas coming about. Perhaps, as Pinnock would say, we are adapting to our generation in order to best share the gospel.However, I do think there are some things that are becoming more and more OK that really shouldn’t be. I will never see a time or a reason where abortion should be legal.

On a different note, of the millennials who claimed to be separate from any religion, were there some who were claiming to be non denominational? This claim is something I’ve seen on the rise. People are more intent on their relationship than their religion.

Andy Zane

Perhaps one aspect of the change revolves around the shift back to an outwardly expressed holiness. In the last century, the social gospel received a great deal of push back as posing a danger to a Christ-centered, personal salvation. In the century previous, this division wasn’t even on the radar. The revivals of the 1800’s held great focus on social issues of the day (slavery), while retaining ideas of personal holiness.
It’s fairly clear that the Millennials are concerned with today’s social issues. Regardless of their stance, they are engaging the issues and working toward progress. The personal focus of the last century may be at fault for what might be described as a socially disengaged church. I wonder if we are in the process of rejoining the outward representation of the gospel (love), and our personal relationships with Christ.

Derek Hunt

I think this millennial age group is something the world hasn’t ever seen before. When I think about my age group and all of the different global and societal issues we are becoming increasingly involved with, I find a certain level of disconnect. While it is very helpful to be aware of what is happening in our world, sometimes I wonder how much millennials are longing to find a group to be apart of. A lack of true understanding and serious engagement with the most pressing issues of our day leaves many young adults grabbing onto the latest and newest social or global fad. Me included. I find myself so distracted with the days latest issue I forget to spend any more time engaging with the one I read about the day before, or the one the day before that. It just seems like we are trying to busy ourselves with countless current circumstances and in by doing that we lose intentionality.


What the statistics say have nothing to do with church catholic needing a real Holy Ghost , Spirit filled sin killing revival like the one in the 1970’s at Asbury College in Kentucky. This revival began on a campus with students and the professors and president of the college were wise enough to not to interfere. When God comes on services Millenials and Baby Boomers are melted together in love. As well as every other generation will be in one accord and then our neighbors will be the whole world. We have a mission in our churches that only a true revival will ignite ! By the way I read 99 per cent of the essays in ” Renovating Holiness ” !

hubert tiger

Reading the blog essay certainly conjures up a number of reflections for more but let me focus on what this content would mean in my context of ministry. We don’t have such a robust ministry focus were statistics are released regularly and inform how we worship or what we focus on as local churches however I do see the importance of these statistics’ wonder who and what a pastor and ministry would need to consult today in order to plan for the ministry ahead? I remember much simpler times where people planned as much as they could and left the rest up to the leadership of the Holy Spirit however today statistics and relevance seem to guide and direct most of the work in the church. My position would be that both sides are important for the contemporary church however what I do believe about families is that the government cannot define what family means and this I believe is the big issue. [163]

Courtney Gilbert

This article and the research that fueled this article is extremely intriguing. However, I am not surprised that Millenials and GenXers have a much different perspective and opinion when it comes to these “hot topics.” These two generations were raised in a time when asking questions and seeking truth (as a personal quest) was encouraged, of course we have different views than those ahead of us.
I believe that these beliefs and opinions are a result of not being in the Church (universal), not claiming a religion or denomination. I believe that the Church (universal) has, for lack of better words, turned us off from the ideas and morals of the previous church going generations. I say this because the Church (universal) has not fostered an environment in which people are pushed or encouraged to think outside the box. We have not been encouraged to think of how Jesus would respond in these current hot topics and issues. Let me explain, in some of the churches I have experienced, we are told “homosexuality is wrong and we need to help others overcome this terrible sin.” I would agree that we need to help others, however, I would suggest that our first stance to should be see how Jesus would have responded to a “sinner,” and then we need to act accordingly. So my personal response would be, “I should love this person first, regardless of what “sins” this person is actually committing.

Chelsea Pearsall

There are some great questions raised within this post. As I’ve learned more about the differences in contexts between the different generations, specifically in teenage years, I wonder more if some of the disconnect that Millennials feel is a type of misunderstanding. In some ways, Millennials may feel as if they do not have a safe space to discuss their ideas in the Church, especially if they feel as if their voices are not heard or even tolerated by other generations. I think that both generations need to be informed by each other in order for the most informed opinion or leading. We need the narrative of the past to help inform the narrative of the present, so that the Christian narrative that we all will carry into the future will best exemplify the narrative of Christ’s love.

There will always be different viewpoints, but we can hope for discussion between the different viewpoints to seek where God is moving in the world.

bobby post

As I think about the question posed by Dr.Oord, “are milliniels lost or enlightened?” I have to say that I do not believe the answer is that simple. Just as with any other generation, there are those who will question the people in charge and leadership positions. We have to remember that those of the 1960s and 1970s started a movement called “the Jesus Movement”. Those young people believed that their parents nad grandparents were not doing things in the church the right way, and so they had a spiritual enlightenment and focused more on a loving Jesus and the spiritual side of things; less litergical.
Now we take a look at the new generation and they are along the same way of thinking because they see the church as a place that has lost its way and not theway the early followers of Christ were. So many of the new generation want to be more spiritual in that they see Jesus as a loving person but not the one of the Bible. Before i go any further, let me say that what I mean by that statement is that many milineialls will say that they are enlightened and discovered Jesus another way than through the bible, so they do not have to look to the bible to draw close to him.

I believe that int he rhelm of ministry, pastors need to draw closer to the bible and focus on exegetical preaching so that people will understand the scriptures and what the bible meant by using historical evidence. in this, the miliniealls could come to know Christ of the bible nad not continue to fall further down the path away from God.

Mirtha Z. Castro-Martin

God Bless everyone!

After reading Dr. Oord’s essay, Are Millennials Lost or Enlightened?, I believe that Christian values among younger Americans are diminishing. This is disappointing. Most youth are missing the point about what it really means to up hold the meaning of marriage between a man and a woman. It is easy to say that many young people only think about themselves or that they are not concerned about future consequences in America. However, there is a bigger picture. Fifty years ago God was talked in the schools even though Americans, then, were more segregated, men were more chauvinist, and history books were more controlled by a certain group of people.
For the last 40 years, many parents have sheltered their children or youth by placing them in private schools. This has caused many youth to not really know what is going on in the real world. Many parents pay for a Christian education thinking that this will take care of the tough questions about life. But in reality, many parents are dumping the responsibility of talking to their youth onto teachers. This is dangerous! Parents need to be more involved. Unfortunately, many parents speak to their children about the Bible as black and white. They like to quote Scripture verses without any interpretation and kind of brush them off. As a result children and the youth do not trust their parents because their parents avoid the tough conversations. This is something that previous generations may have also done in avoiding conversations regarding tough subjects. Parents and mature Christian leaders should do a better job when explaining or instructing from Scripture so that children and the youth feel that there are no questions or opinions that are off limits.
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Denice Gass

This essay was for me an introspective one for me. The essay highlights man of the the thought provoking questions that I am still working through in my own heart and life. For me in particular, Dr. Oord’s query of, “Does the relative lack of religious affiliation by Millennials mean their views on same-sex marriage and the environment have not been properly nurtured by religious communities?” (Oord, NP). I have a twenty year old nephew who lives with us and he is absolutely passionate about the environment. He is still finding his way when it comes to his faith but for him the stewardship of the planet is of utmost importance. He has taught me a great deal about what it means to care for God’s creation.

In the same way, my nephew has also shown me what it means to love others unconditionally. The level of respect and genuine affection he shows for all those he interacts with is wonderful; no matter what their race, creed, gender, or sexual orientation, he believes that all people should be valued for who they are. It has taught me a great deal about what it means to share Christ’s love with an open heart, loving people regardless of their struggles or differences. Each of us has areas in our lives that require the work of the Lord to redeem. I have seen in my nephew the type of unfailing love for others that I believe all Christians should exhibit. So, yes, I believe that the younger generations do have some things to teach us, just as we have much to teach them.

Mike Curry

Reflecting on this essay, one cannot deny the obvious conclusion that Millenials see things differently than do the previous generations. I notice it in my own ministry and in the ministries of my colleagues. My initial thought is that this generation is neither lost or enlightened, but rather shaped by a culture that has been created by the effects of being systemically, and systematically abandoned by the adults in their lives.

Adults have touted the importance of ethical standards and behaviors (“true love waits,” “What Would Jesus Do?”), but often time failed to live up to the standards of holiness they preached. Rather than engage the culture that their kids lived in, adults sought to offer entertaining alternatives, which in a sense created a sub culture of sorts. Adults offered conflicting and contradictory messages without adequately explaining the reasoning behind why taking life in abortion is forbidden, but killing someone on the battlefield was acceptable and perhaps even encouraged. I know it is a generalization, but adults have not done an adequate job of being present to guide Millenials through these vital life questions.

So what do we do now? A few thoughts came my way while reading this essay today. In our ministries, I think it is vital to explore clear ethical boundaries in a way that encourages a discourse among the entire Church, but has as its foundation the love and grace of Christ. I believe the Church must engage culture (rather than run from it or ignore it) by erasing the sacred-secular boundary and bringing Christ into all parts of life. Finally, I think we need to call our congregations to a renewed vision of the value and sacredness of all life in Creation. Perhaps we cannot undo the damage that has been done by previous abandonment, but maybe we can realistically engage those that fall into the Millenial generation.

Robert Merrills

I don’t know that blog gives us enough information to lump a segment of society together and make a definitive claim either way. One thing Professor Oord post demonstrates is that thoughts about significant topics vary among the identified generations, which invites the question “why do the generations you think that way they do?” As members of churches that may have pretty clear stances on same-sex marriage, abortion and war, it can be easily to hide behind doctrinal statements and substitute emotion with reason and bully our way through conversations that may sound pretty intolerant. At the same time the issues addressed in the blog are significant and still pose real challenges to and opportunities for the church to lead in love.

One option is to develop the structure for having cross generational discussions on contemporary issues. This will better equip the church to understand what the issue, the foundation for generational opinions (understanding generations don’t think exclusively one way) and then to best articulate the churches beliefs while reinforcing the need to demonstrate Christ’s love through the process. One of the things that strikes me about controversial churches like Westboro Baptist Church is how they are willing to stand on the word of God in condemnation but do not seem as willing or as capable of standing on the Word of God in love. In connecting to content from earlier this week, forums for discussion can help marginalized folks within the congregation to identify their concerns and provides the church insight for its response. Millennials could be lost, enlightened or both. I believe it is possible to be lost on some issues and enlightened on others and still be Christian. At the end of the day however, I want the church to help me understand and articulate challenging issue while praying that God will give me the wisdom to know his will.

Andy Perrine

The question asked in this essay is “Are Millennials Lost or Enlightened?” I am not sure if the Millennials are lost, my thinking is that previous generations have not shared or expressed their opinions, thoughts, or ways in a way that reaches the Millennials. With the platform of technology, Millennials are able to share and voice their opinion to a broader group of people, more than any previous generation. They are able to hear so many of other people’s opinions, and because of this may not fully educate themselves on an idea. The opinions are coming to them at a rapid fire pace. The question I ask is, are older generations speaking enough with the tools, such as blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc and able to reach Millennials? Are older generations voicing their opinions (with the right tools) loud enough to be heard?

The decline in religious affiliation in concerning. The question was asked, “would Millennials think more like Boomers and Silents if they showed up for worship services more often?” The problem may not be Millennials not showing up, but that Boomers and Silents are not adapting to the “bring it to me” mentality of Millennials. Millennials can get everything they need from the touch of a button, maybe Boomers and Silents need to find a way to bring worship services to Millennials in a way they understand.

Carlie Hoerth

Dr. Oord asks, “Does the relative lack of religious affiliation by Millennials mean their views on same-sex marriage and the environment have not been properly nurtured by religious communities? To ask this question a slightly different way, would Millennials think more like Boomers and Silents if they showed up for worship services more often?” This is a question worth asking, as the answer will affect our thoughts on the importance of religion, the leadings of the Holy Spirit, and the effectiveness of propaganda (both religious or otherwise).

In order to argue that millennials would think like the generations before them if they were equally “religious” as their parents or grandparents are, we have to assume that millennials continue to think and learn in the same way as older generations do because the average church service hasn’t changed significantly from what it was like for their parents and grandparents. According to experts in emerging adulthood and adolescents such as Jeffery J Arnett and Chap Clark, this is simply not the case. According to their research, it is taking longer for young people to mature mentally which affects every decision and relationship that young people make. This means that millennials and younger generations are incapable of understanding, learning, or making decisions about the same things at the same time that their parents did. Therefore, there is no guarantee that even if millennials continued to go to church or participate in religious acts as frequently as the older generations do, that they would come to the same conclusions and understandings about God, faith, or the world as their parents and grandparents have.

Regardless, the facts are that millennials do not attend church as much, so spending too much time wishing for what might have been is not as fruitful as accepting our present reality and working to reach millennials with the gospel in spite of their resistance to church. One thing that we must recognize is that millennials are not going uninfluenced. Many things inform their decisions and beliefs about the world. This comes in the form of advertisements, and primarily peer/culture pressure. The desire to “fit in” and “belong” is very strong for millennials and the younger generations, probably more so than any other generation because their need for acceptance and care has gone overlooked by their parents and is hard to come by in a digital culture where true presence is scarce. This means that millennials are more likely to rally around causes such as the environment and human rights which provide them with a community, a voice, and something to live for. While they should be able to find these things in a church family, they have, for a variety of reasons, rejected church.

I will be the first to say that God can work through these “causes” and may even be behind some of them. Why wouldn’t God want us to take better care of our world? However, I think the church needs to do a better job of caring for and reaching millennials because it is not the world’s job to love them; that’s the church’s job. And it is not the world’s job to give them a cause worth rallying around, that’s Jesus’ job. Let this pew poll be a wake up call to the church that not only are we losing our young people who are finding an identity in things that are not all historically supported by the church, but also that we need to do something about it! As pastors, church leaders, and Christians, we need to make the church a place where people feel heard, loved, and can buy into the message of salvation of the whole person. Furthermore, we can do better at knowing when it might be okay to support something even if it is (mock horror) “a liberal agenda.”

Perhaps in many ways millennials have seen the light because they have stepped out of the shadow that the church can inadvertently cause over social and political issues. However, this is no excuse for the church to join them whole-heartedly, or stop trying to invite them back into a faith community. The church can learn a lot from millennials and their convictions, but we should not lose sight of the Truth or our own convictions as Christians. What we must do is evaluate what we believe, and share the light with millennials (and this goes both ways.) Regardless of whether they have seen the light, we cannot pretend that the church is not in the dark on some key issues. Let us be children of the light, while also remembering to be in the world, but not of it.

Shauna Hanus

The message we as minister’s share is the same message of previous generations. The Gospel message does not change and neither does God. While the message stays the same the culture in which we share the message changes.
Younger Americans are demonstrating a diminishing of Christian values. This is not from a fresh leading of the Holy Spirit it is from a change in the Christian foundation. Fewer children of today, gen-xers, or millennials are growing up receiving a strong foundation in Christian teachings. As their parents withdrew from participation in the Christian church the children reaped the negative outcome of lack of religious training.
At the same time, we see a cultural change taking place because the aforementioned children have grown to be the ones programing culture. Our media leaders are increasingly coming into their professions from a non-religious background. As media portrays homosexuality as acceptable and normal society will begin to see it that way. The same goes for abortion, war, and the environment. Culturally we accept as normal what we see and hear in the media.
What does this mean for ministers of the Gospel? It means we need to be aware of what the media promotes. Do we combat society? Not necessarily. The shift we are experiencing has happened in the past. Perhaps not at the fast-paced rate of today but generational differences are nothing new. We need to stay true to the Gospel message and know our audience. The message does not change but the delivery does. Look toward social media for proof. Fifteen years ago, Facebook did not exist, and blogging was the hot new thing on the internet. Today Facebook is an industry leader where businesses and individuals share their information while blogging still exists, but it has taken a back seat to newer social media platforms.

Jessica Hiatt

 “Is there a diminishing of Christian values among younger Americans?” The examples used, of abortion, same-sex marriage, war, and the environment, are just the fairly current “hot topics.” In the past, hot topics about diminishing Christian values would have included divorce and unwed mothers, both of which are basically moot topics in the church anymore. What church doesn’t have a divorced and remarried person in a leadership role, whether a paid position or a layperson? Unwed mothers used to be an embarrassment, and sent away. Now there still may be some embarrassment, but the mother isn’t sent into hiding. What church doesn’t have unmarried parents and their children attending? My point is that “Christian values” has always been a rather subjective measure. The church has issues that it “picks on” and others that it turns a blind eye. This is nothing new, and I’m not sure it has anything to do with any generational label. I’ll share some personal examples.
A Muslim teenager from a local refugee family got pregnant, with no inclination to marry the daddy. Her parents kicked her out, and a nice couple from my congregation took her in. Our church welcomed her with open arms, threw her a baby shower, and love, love, love her baby. Which is a wonderful example of showing the love of Christ. She has accepted Christ recently, and wants to be baptized.
On the flip side though, there is a transgendered person in our community who is desperately seeking. This person is a male who identifies as a female, consistently dressing as a female. My church leadership would not allow her to attend the women’s Bible study because it made some of the other women “uncomfortable.” (I’ll point out that the women who were upset were either GenXers or Millenials, the Boomers and Silents were glad to welcome her, interestingly enough). She was told that she was welcome to attend the men’s study, since that is where she biologically belonged. So she never came back, and who can blame her?
The church in the past would never have welcomed the single mom with open arms, and I think in the future the church will not be opposed to ministry to transgendered individuals.
Is Christianity just a set of rules that govern behavior? Or is it something more? What truly sets Christians apart? Is the church simply becoming more and more like the culture around it? Maybe the church should set aside the judging and work harder on the loving, and let the Holy Spirit do the hard work of conviction.

Jennifer Ayala

Dr. Oord, I know that our views can differ from our parents or grandparents. I know that my parents (generation x) were raised in a different society where the Jetsons seemed unreachable, and myself (millennial) has grown up to experience the start of the Jetsons. Yes, we have differences in what we believe and how we perceive ourselves, but I also think we can find common ground in our decisions. There might be a lot of compromises and a lot of sacrificing. Going back to the article, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that millennials are more “religious” than the generation Xers. It is a little scary to think that millennials are also very lenient when it comes to topics such as gender, war, and marriage. I think that millennials see topics like gender, war, and marriage loosely because it has become the norm to see it in society. Society has embraced this kind of culture and it is a topic that is sensitive to religious affiliations. Should our churches do more in reaching out to families of all generations to find common ground on heated topics like abortion and marriage? I think we should but in a manner of love and respect. We might be losing millennials to culture because they (we) are so exposed to the trends of this world and as Christians, we need to be aware of what’s feeding into our eyes, minds, and hearts.

Ryan Pearson

One portion of the blog’s essay that caught my eye was the point of religious affiliation: “They younger as person is, the less likely that person will identify him or herself with a religion”. One guess/explanation I have for this is that millennials may not want to identify themselves or affiliate themselves with a religion when that affiliation may cause others to view them as having the same views as the stereotypes within that religion.

I find the phrase “or are younger Americans following a fresh leading of the Holy Spirit” to be a bit concerning when it comes to certain issues. I think we need to be careful in our discerning of what the Spirit is leading us to do and making sure it lines up with what God’s word would have for us. If I feel like the spirit is leading me to start killing others, and I disregard the commandment “Thou shalt not murder”, am I really following the Spirit? I guess what I am saying is that I hope we do not begin going against God or not following his will, all the while justifying our actions by saying we are following the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Meg Crisostomo


Being born into an era where information is available quite literally at your fingertips, millennials are being influenced much more than the generations before them. This mass receiving of various opinions, perspectives, and lifestyles impact the way a millennial comes to understand the world around them.

To answer the question ‘Are millennials lost or enlightened?’ I’d have to say that they are both; it just depends on which perspective you’re coming from. If we’re approaching this question from a non- Christian ministry perspective, I’d argue to say that millennials are more culturally sensitive and globally aware than any other generation before them. They seek justice for all, fairness in every situation, and empathy for those who suffer.

But in a Christian ministry perspective, millennials have lost sight of what it means to not conform to the patterns of this world. Society has categorized Christianity, and as far as I can tell, millennials do not want any part in organized religion. So they drift and fall astray. They claim to be a Christian but do not act in a way Christ would lead them to act. They do good and love others for the sake of doing good and loving others rather than doing good and loving others for the glory of God.

I’m a millennial, but I’m an exception to the statistic. I love Jesus with all my heart and live my life in a way that is reflective of this love, but most of my peers have never set foot inside of a church. I follow God, and my peers follow society. So to get millennials from lost in the church to part of the church, we have to shift the mindset that society’s worth is more valuable than God’s worth.

Stephen Phillips

I do think that more study is needed in this department to fully answer if millennials are lost or enlightened. It does become clear that moral positions are changing and this could be a result of a change in culture. Specifically, when we do speak about same-sex marriages. However, the position on war seems to be constant throughout the generations. The one concept that I found interesting was the idea of looking after the world; one would think that every generation would see this as important. The question of whether this makes millennials more enlightened: for me would depend on the individual. I am of the opinion that in general millennial are trying to find the balance between being lost and being enlightened. It would seem that they do have this need to make the world a better place and trying to find out what the best way to do this would be. I do agree that millennials are more authentic with what the believe and this does not need to be a negative quality.

Kaylee Tilford

I believe the answer is both yes and no. What I mean by this is I do not think that after 2,000 years of church history, plus several more thousand years of written history of YHWH followers, that suddenly we have the right new answer. There is something to be said for tradition and the role it plays in teaching and training younger generations. We do not have the same opportunities as the disciples who walked with Jesus did to understand who the incarnate Jesus is and who we are called to be in light of that. Therefore, we cannot be too hasty to throw out the old ways of believing and thinking simply because a new and exciting way is introduced to us.
That being said, we also cannot accept tradition for traditions sake. We must always be reevaluating what we have been taught and led to believe with what the Holy Spirit is doing and revealing in the present. One thing Millinials have that older generations did not is the instant connect to people from every culture and background. The internet and technological advances that have connected the world in ways unseen in the past has opened up our eyes to some of our shortcomings. It was easy to demonize another culture when we knew noone or nothing of it other than what someone told us, but as we see and engage with others from those cultures they become human and personable and we no longer can hate them in the same way. This has led us to realize a great need for social justice and a shift away from nationalism that I believe is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
All that to say that there are some traditions that are being thrown out, not because the Holy Spirit is suddenly doing something new that has never been done in thousands of years of history, but because these beliefs are socially acceptable and politically correct and we fear being counter-cultural or different. However, there is also new information present that was not present before that I believe the Holy Spirit is using to help us reevaluate beliefs that were not Christ-like and it is these that are truly enlightened.

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