If you check out the phrase “Millennials are killing” in any search engine, you’ll find various lists of things that millennials are sending out of business. Perhaps the funniest parts of those lists are the specific restaurants that millennials, those business murderers, are killing. The reason I laugh at those lists, or those articles, blaming millennials for causing an end to certain businesses or even industries, is that in a society based on capitalistic principles, a business fails not because of the customers, but because the business failed to adapt to the changing desires of the customers. If any business is failing, and blaming the customer, or the potential customer that’s ignoring them, they just don’t understand. The business should adapt to the needs and desires of the customer, not the other way around.
In short, businesses, no customer owes you their allegiance. You need to win their patronage every day. As we went through our most recent hurricane, some companies engaged in price gouging on things like water; other companies gave water away to people who were affected. Guess who customers will support in the future. The same thing applies to beliefs. For years, the Pharisees were the only game in town. People respected and looked up to them. Most people didn’t feel comfortable trying to become one, but they honored those who did. Then came Jesus. He turned that world upside down. “Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!’” (John 12:17-19)
The Pharisees were yesterday’s stars once Jesus burst on the scene. They were used to the admiring glances as they prayed on the street corners. The loved the applause when they gave alms to the poor. Now, all that was going down the drain. They tried to remind everyone that they had a special relationship to God because they followed all the rules, while Jesus taught the people that God loved them and that the Kingdom of Heaven was here and now. Every time the Pharisees confronted Jesus, either with a head on battle or with a ruse designed to trip Jesus up, they lost. They lost so badly they made the Washington Generals seem like a winning team. Then, Jesus pulled a major PR coup and raised Lazarus from the dead. The Pharisees knew that they couldn’t beat Jesus, and they didn’t want to join Him, so they sought to kill him and Lazarus.
It seems that the church of today is facing a relevancy crisis. We wonder why younger folks don’t come to church. Instead of looking inside ourselves, though, we think millennials are to blame. Perhaps they hear our words of love and grace, but see actions that reflect judgment and selfishness. Perhaps they hear us gush about the glories of heaven while seeing little or nothing being done to deal with issues here on earth. If Millennials aren’t seeing the joy of life in Christ and the advantages of following Jesus, it’s not their fault. It’s ours. There’s a key to reaching millennials: genuine, life changing faith. Too often our actions don’t reflect what we say we believe, and that turns people off, especially millennials. We need to have the genuine kind of faith where we let Jesus change us from the inside. We need to be able to share our faith with our life story of how Jesus changed us. We can never try to change the message that Jesus died for our sins and rose again to allow us to have eternal life; but if we lived it daily, not only millennials, but all people would take notice and we would see many others enjoying our faith with us.
Lord, let my faith be genuine and sincere. As I share Your love with others, let me be an example.