Response from the Mosiacs
Last month I shared with you some insights from David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, about Millennials or Mosaics (born during the years 1984-2002). I also asked for feedback, especially from the Millennials in our church family. I got some responses from the young adult SS class. Thanks, guys! I will share some of my comments after each response.
Millennial 1: “The idea of grouping people and labeling them as if they are all alike does not do any favors. It creates a barrier. Not all people in that age group think the same way. One person could be raised in one manner and be five years younger or older in that same age group, so they are not necessarily going to be of like mind and characteristics.”
Pastor Joubert: You are right; no one likes to be classified and lumped into one category, like sheep or cattle. I would also hope that most of our Seventh-day Adventist Christian youth and young adults have very different values from the majority of their worldly peers. So, where does Kinnaman get these categories from? They send out thousands of questionnaires to people of all age groups and with careful evaluation and synthesis they produce extensive statistical results that lead them to their findings. How would I interpret their statistical analysis? I would look for broad strokes of information that correspond with my own unscientific, subjective, observations. What fits into my own paradigm, I will tend to accept, and discard the rest. What is good about it? It makes me think about who I am, and how society subtly tries to influence and form my identity. This is where I am reminded of some good council in Romans 12:2, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold....”
Millennial 2: “Mosaics in the church want to be accepted and trusted in the task or job that they have been assigned.”
Pastor Joubert: I love that. Me, too. I flourish when others show that they trust me. I am sensing that underlying this response there is probably some history and experience of distrust and patronizing, stifling supervision by an authority figure. That makes it hard for you to trust again, but that is exactly what I am going to ask you to do. Risk to trust again by entering into a mentoring agreement such as is suggested under Millennial 7’s response below.
Millennial 3: “Being able to enjoy the music and not singing hymns all the time brings a sense of fun to church.”
Pastor Joubert: I am assuming you mean that you enjoy spiritual songs other than hymns, correct? If so, then I agree. I like it too. I actually like hymns, gospel songs, classical, country spiritual, and contemporary Christian music. I would like to challenge you to widen your taste, but in a responsible and mature way. Did you have a fun, spiritual experience on Sabbath, October 25, when we had a Youth Sabbath? The praise team did not sing one hymn. Most of the songs were new to most of the congregation, and I heard some very positive feedback from older folk who enjoyed being exposed to what the youth were enjoying. That is why we have a variety of praise teams, with at least one of them focusing more on the youth and contemporary music.
Millennial 4: “We want to bring some changes, but they are not well received, because the more experienced people are stuck in their ways.”
Pastor Joubert: You, too, seem to be speaking from experience, although I don’t know if it is recent or ancient experience. Please pray for the “more experienced people [who] are stuck in their ways.” We all need to have our eyes Spirit-anointed and our vision enlarged. We have had several Family Council evenings where we have looked our identity and challenged ourselves to a larger vision of what God wants to do through us as a church family. This is one way to bring about healthy change in the body of Christ. Another would be to text your pastor and ask for a visit to share your ideas. Nail him down to make an appointment. You may be surprised at how “unstuck” he is.
Millennial 5: “Just because Mosaics are not coming to this church does not mean that they are not attending church. They may be attending another church where there are more young people and getting their spiritual needs met, Adventist church or not.”
Pastor Joubert: Well said. This is one of the marks of Millennials. They are fluid and go where the action is. Most of them don’t feel tied to their home church. They like visiting around where their peers are and building social networks.
Millennial 6: “They may even be listening or downloading sermons from websites, like Loma Linda University Church or Pioneer Memorial Church.”
Pastor Joubert: I have a surprise for you. Many Baby Boomers do the same, because they have become spoilt by the new possibilities of technology, or should I say hooked, or addicted. Even the Elder generation, who have physical challenges, do so out of necessity, rather than choice. There is a danger here, though. Can you see it? In last month’s newsletter I used the term, “alienation,” a term that Kinnaman uses to describe the isolation of Mosaics who hide behind their digital gadgets to avoid face-to-face social relationships. This is especially true of introverts. Extroverts may still seek out the physical social contact opportunities. You decide whether that is important to you or not.
Millennial 7: “Mentoring is a good way to get young people involved. Teach us how to do things, but know that we may do them differently and if it doesn't work, we learn and change accordingly.”
Pastor Joubert: Mentoring is learning in a relationship. Mentors need to be trained and that is one of our priorities in our church. Your elders as church leaders meet once a week to be trained and mentored by each other and the pastor. Each church ministry has an assigned elder as mentor to that ministry leader. At right you will find an organizational management chart that shows you which elders are assigned to which ministries; feel free to utilize your leader!
I would also like to extend a personal invitation to any Millennial: I would be happy to have a mentoring relationship with you in an area of your choice that corresponds with my experience and expertise. Here are some suggestions: How to prepare a sermon; How to study the Bible; How to visit people and know what to say; How to communicate more effectively; How to control my anger; How to deal with depression; How do I know I have made the right choice for marriage; How to know God’s will for my future and my career choice.