"The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse." James 2:26 MSG
Generations are known for criticizing other generations, especially younger ones. Millennials in particular have received their fair share of unfavorable labels. Entitled, oversensitive, narcissistic, lazy, shallow and disrespectful, just to name a few. Yes, these monikers may describe some Millennials, but the same could be said of every other generation. Should an entire generation be known for the negative qualities of a minority?
From my experience with Millennials (born 1981-96) and as one myself, we're passionate about authenticity, unity and service. In all my conversations with young adult Christians (of various spiritual maturities), serving is a top priority. We want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and we want it to be a collaboration, not a competition amongst churches or denominations.
Even nonbelieving young adults want to serve and inspire compassion. According to Gallup's CliftonStrength, one of Millennials' top 5 strengths is empathy—a trait not attributed to the previous 3 generations. In a hyper-connected world, today's young adults are keenly aware of the struggles people around the world are facing.
In previous generations, one would have to wait for the evening news or the newspaper to learn of the latest tragedy, and even then it was only a brief overview. Now, in just a couple flicks of a finger, we can watch people get beheaded, have their homes washed away and entire villages kidnapped, in real time.
We see it, we feel it, we hate it, and we want to do something about it; and we're in a good position to do so. With the median marriage age at an all-time high (30 y/o in 2010s vs. 23 y/o in 1970s), more young adults have the freedom to go where they're needed, when they're needed, without worrying about how it will affect their spouse or children.
Now imagine if we harnessed this passion for Jesus. Yes, fewer Millennials identify as Christians than their elders, but that number is still 49%. If nearly half of American Millennials call themselves a Christian, what would happen if we equipped them to serve like Jesus and gave them opportunities to do so? Better yet, what if we did that, plus joined them?
It's that simple, we just need to get started. But how? Well, let's turn to Scripture. God commands us to care for children (especially orphans), widows, neighbors, the sick and the poor (Prov. 28:27, Luke 3:11, Rom. 15:1, 1 Cor. 10: 24, James 1:27, 1 John 3:17-18). We have plenty of these people groups in our community, so I'd say our backyards are a good place to start.
But remember, Millennials value collaboration, and better yet, so does God (Prov. 27:17, Ecc. 4:9-12, Rom. 12:4-8, Heb. 10: 24-25). Need I say more? So now that we know, are we ready to go?
Here are some starting points on how you can serve with the younger generations:
Ask God together to show you opportunities and listen
Seek input from those involved and pray
Make a plan, gather materials and pray
Pray and go—together
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.