In 1955, James Dean portrayed a rebellious teenager in the iconic film, "Rebel without a Cause." It came to symbolize rebelling against society when really, there was nothing that had been done to warrant this rebellion. Boomers grew up in an affluent time with intact homes, and yet, many rebelled against the conformist culture of that time.
Millennials are by and large the children of Boomers (and some leading edge Gen Xers). Unlike Boomers, who were at war with their parents, most Millennials have grown up with good relationships with their parents. They have been coached, watched over, educated, and in many cases, moved back home with their parents after college--in part due to the economic collapse and there being no jobs, in part due to not having grown up or desiring to not yet take on adult responsibilities, and in part due to their close connections with their parents.
When you are friends with your parents, it is rather hard to be rebellious. And Millennials as a group, therefore, "rebelled" from their parents by being clean cut, non-hippyfied, well educated, and socially responsible young adults.
Indeed, studies show that Millennials have lower drug and alcohol use than their parents' generation, and while sexuality and "friends with benefits" is rampant with apps like Tinder and the delay of marriage, there is even a counter cultural abstinence movement.
So, what is "cool" to this non-rebellious generation? In their article "Millennials and the Changing Meaning of Cool," authors Brett and Kate McKay give these characteristics of what Millennials find to be cool:
So how does all of this apply to reaching Millennials for Christ? Well, I and many other missional and cultural observers are trying to find this out! Based upon observations, research, and personal experience, I would say the following:
What do you think of the above list? How can we better reach the Millennial generation for Christ?
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Dr. James Nored (Doctor of Ministry, Fuller Theological Seminary) is a preacher, evangelist, church consultant, writer, and missional leader located in Fairfax, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.
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