From the heart of a Millennial- "The Church and Why I've stayed..." / by Ryan Cole

With so many ideas going around about why "Millennials" are leaving the church I decided to write a blog on why I've decided to stay....

So many of these blogs and statistics that I am reading have been done from researchers and Pastors who are trying to figure "Millennials" out without sitting where they have sat...There's been some good views and some very wrong views about what our contribution to the global church will be. I'm here to sort through the madness to help bring some clarity.

As a Young Adult myself, I have been heavily involved in church for the last 11 years. I have watched people come and go and I have had to ask myself the questions...Why have I stayed while others have gone? What has been different about my experience that has caused me to rise in leadership while others have forsaken "Church" all together? In the process of studying the journey of both myself and my peers I have also received strategy from the Holy Spirit on the direction and future of the church, as Millennials take center stage in Church Leadership.

As I look at the trajectory of my own journey, I have discovered that what has set me apart from others that have left the church, is in the fact that I have aggressively pursued Mentors. This is something that many people are not as comfortable doing, especially when you face a lot of rejection, bad leadership, hurt, and disappointment. What has kept me, was my ability to filter through the inadequacies of people in order to partake of their treasure. That meant me having a lot of forgiveness toward people and putting my dependency on God instead of man. We have to be able to see past the flaws and failures of man and trust that God can still use them to speak to us regardless of their downfalls.

By the grace of God and through great patience on my part, I came across 2 specific leaders that were Pure in their motives, sacrificial, and did for me what everyone else is now calling..

"Reverse Mentoring"! This process changed my life and is the method I live by to empower others.

Here are some key points that define this process of "Reverse Mentoring":

1. This process requires that the leader be very secure in their own calling as to not allow a spirit of competition to hinder the process of empowerment. Millennials are seeking "room to grow" and "space to create".

2. Millennials want to be able to question your process without the fear of rejection. They don't want to just do what you say without also wanting to know WHY you do what you do. If you believe in the supernatural...they wanna know why and they want to see results. Because of this we all have to evaluate our methods and ask ourselves if what we are doing is "scriptural" or just "traditional". You should allow those that you mentor to ask questions and be able to give them answers, strategies, and demonstration of power. Don't be intimidated by the WHY'S...we are not questioning your authority...we just want to know how you do what you do! In the end...our questions can help you become a greater leader and to be a more effective leader. Listen, many parents will tell you that they have learned more through parenting their kids then they actually taught there open to learning yourself too!

3. Reverse mentoring requires great transparency! We want to know your story and your struggles. We want to know that you will not judge our future based on our past. We also want to know that you are not ashamed of us and that you will claim us as your own no matter what! We don't want sugar coated and remember that we don't relate to you just because you watch reality TV and use a Kardashian as a sermon illustration or joke...we will relate to you because of your STORY and your AUTHENTICITY!

4. Allow us to challenge your methods by giving us space to experiment with new strategies while keeping the same anointing! Trust that we can hear from God too and embrace the fact that we know how our generation is responding to new technology.

5. Don't just place us in a role that you need filled because of your need. Get to know us, our strengths and gifts, and help us discover the right place for us in the church!

6. Don't falter in your integrity and theology just because a large group of us say so. More than ever, young adults need to hear clear lines of theology and that includes making a stand for holiness and living a life free from sin! BUT REMEMBER! We will respect you and hear you...only if your life reflects the same boundaries that you are proclaiming!

Continuing on...

Statistics show that Millennials are the most educated generation that has ever been...with more degrees than ever before, but with less practical knowledge than ever because they have not been given a space to try it out for themselves...this includes the church. Everyone under the age of 25 in most churches have been placed in a "sub ministry" with ill equipped leaders, and by the time they have graduated college there is no reason for them to stay at your church because they have never really been included in the actual "church". This generation has extended adolescence well past the age of 25 because they have yet to "comprehend" what their place in the world is. They are still living at home because there is not an empowerment mechanism in most cities to launch these Young Adults out of complacency. The infallible truth is that the CHURCH is the only answer and we cannot fail!

Don't try and "relate" to us based on popular culture alone...stimulate our intellect because the truth is that we have a great hunger to learn!

The church is NOT a religious institution to help numb the pain of life and hardship that people face. It's not intended to be a "drug of choice" to help soothe individuals and their lack of effective decision making abilities....THE CHURCH is the Educational Institution of the Kingdom of Heaven!

Our role is to re-educate individuals with the mandate of God! We should be creating a culture that is not a mirror image of the "world system" but is distinctly different. Our goal should be in making disciples and with that comes the empowerment of purpose! The enemy has shaped the culture of this generation through the way that we have educated our young people. We have taught them word recognition but not word COMPREHENSION. Meaning that the majority of people in the workplace have been trained for a task instead of being empowered to THINK for themselves. This is because we have allowed Schools and Media to shape the belief systems of our young people. On top of that..the church has, for the most part, forsaken discipleship. Therefore...

..."we must conclude that a good SHOW and PRESENTATION is not the transformational elements that will equip this generation with challenging theological concepts that cause us to move in faith and too move in the supernatural power of God."

For too long the church has moved tried to move from Information >> to Presentation >> to Revelation >> strait to ACTIVATION. We want young adults to invite others...and they will FOR A WHILE....but then they will become burnt out very quickly because there is not COMPREHENSION!

Comprehension can be defined as "an active understanding and thoughtful application of revelation..."

The only way to bring Comprehension is through personal relationships! In the end we are not going to come to your church because of good music or presentation....were going to come to your church because we are able to integrate our faith with our real life! That means that there has to be a place where effective relationships and accountability is set established within the church! Sure Large Gatherings are great AND ARE NEEDED! However, Acts 2 shows us that they not only had large gatherings but also went HOUSE to HOUSE teaching and breaking bread together!

Life Groups that help us build quality relationships and help us to apply revelation that is being taught is the only biblical method that will cause retention in your church! But the key to this is getting it OFF CAMPUS and into our everyday lives!

Statistics show that Millennials are are not interested in work and life balance they are interested in work and life INTEGRATION. The same is true about their faith. They don't just wanna show up on Sunday if they have not integrated their LIFE >> WORK >> and FAITH together as one! So...

How are you facilitating relationships? How are you empowering individuals to take the Gospel to their workplace and to shift culture? Also, does all of this fit within the current church pattern that we have in America? Well...the answer is yes and no....There are ministries that are moving in that direction but the majority of churches are clueless about what is going to take place here in the next 5-10 years when it comes to church!

Click Here for my Prophetic Prediction of the Church within the next 5-10 years!

So why have I stayed? Well, because I have a firm conviction about the importance of the local church! I know how much we are needed! I have stayed because I have been taught the message of the Kingdom! That teaching has grounded me when a lot of people and systems have failed. The Gospel of the Kingdom is a message of empowerment and I have been challenged to pursue the purpose that God has given me.

I believe that if we make discipleship (from a Kingdom perspective of empowerment) our focus along with meaningful relationships we will be successful in reaching the next generation with the Gospel!

-Ryan Cole

Click Here for the continuation of this conversation in my next BLOG...