FBCJ Feature Article: They Shall Hunger No More
THEY SHALL HUNGER NO MORE
John 6:35 (NKJV)35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
Dr. Abraham Maslow, a noted psychologist, developed a theory called the hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs defined by Saul McLeod in Simply Psychology is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.
Maslow stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others. Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behavior. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so on.
This month we will focus on the third need on Maslow’s hierarchy of need: our innate sense of belonging. We will deal with one of the growing dilemmas facing the church today: How do we reach the next generation? How can we help the Millennials? They are struggling to find their place in the church. In Sam Eaton’s blog, 12 Reasons Millennials are over Church,he provides glaring and dramatic statistics about the exodus of millennials from the church:
Only 2 in 10 Americans under 30 believe attending church is important or worthwhile
59% of millennials raised in a church have dropped out
35% of millennials have an anti-church stance, believing the church does more harm than good
Millennials are the least likely age group of anyone to attend church
Who are the Millennials?
In Phillip Bump article in the Atlantic, “Here is when each generation begins and ends, according to the facts” stated that in October 2004, researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss called Millennials “the next great generation,” which is funny. They define the group as “as those born in 1982 and approximately the 20 years thereafter.” In 2012, they affixed the end point as 2004.
Millennials are faced with several challenging issues today according to several sources such as a slow economy, high unemployment, stagnant wages and student loans. According to Paul Angone’s article in the Relevant magazine, “3 Major Challenges facing Millennials” states Millennials are the largest, most educated generation in history but they make us 40% of the unemployed workers. The college diploma is a must now, it no longer is considered an automatic door opener. There are 85-90 million millennials in the US, most are in deep debt because of student loans. College has become less affordable even though it is a necessary expense. Steven Rattner in his New York Times article, “We’re making Life too Hard for Millennials” informs us that since 1993, the average tuition has risen by 234 percent, far above the 63% overall inflation rate. In addition to the economic challenges they are facing, millennials have higher levels of anxiety and depression than previous generations.
To understand the millennials, we have to take these statistics and issues these authors have provided seriously. We cannot continue church as usual, we must look and listen to their hurt. In addition to the economic and mental challenges they are facing, Sam Eaton in his blog provides 12 reasons the millennials are leaving the church. The church, the place where God’s healing power resides has not provided the balm of Gilead (Jeremiah 8:22) to these problems.
Here are the 12 reasons Sam (a millennial provides):
- Nobody’s listening to us
- We’re sick of hearing Values & Mission statements
- Helping the poor isn’t a priority
- We’re tired of you blaming the culture
- The “You can’t sit with us” Affect
- Distrust & Misallocation of Resources
- We want to be mentored, not preached at
- We want to feel valued
- We want you to talk to us about controversial issues
- The Public perception (change it)
- Stop talking about us (unless you’re going to do something)
- You’re failing to adapt
How do we offer them the Bread of Life?
Gracy Olmstead in her American Conservative article, “How to save the Millennial Faith?”, suggests that we must do 4 things to win them back and make John 6:35 live for them:
Appeal to the Past: She suggests that entertaining the millennials has failed. Entertaining the millennials is acting out of fear and acting more like the current consumer driven culture. She states that we must re-enchant them with Christian thought. We want more from life than fun (Ecc. 11:9-10). We want life to be holy (I Peter 1:16). We want life to be sacred(Jn.14:6). And it is this demand for holiness that makes us human.
Appeal to their Hungers: She states that we must appeal to their gut as well, to the hungers and desires that for and guide their hearts. We must resurrect the art of hospitality and understand the importance of breaking bread with others in order to show them the truth of the gospel. She states that scripture is resplendent ( has an impressive appearance) with the potent (powerfully persuasive) imagery of food and drink, hospitality and fellowship. (John 2:1-11)
Appeal to their Minds: She states millennials need to understand how the Christian faith responds to their fears, doubts and questions. We live in an exceedingly uncertain and troubled world. Christianity offers a balm and alternative to hate and horror, as well as to relativism and moral confusion. (Ps. 46)
Appeal by Example: She states we need to offer millennials the security and comfort of homes, family and community. The world cannot offer these things. By God’s grace, we can offer stable marriages, happy homes, strong families, rituals of togetherness and hope. We can invite disillusioned young people into these communities, and let them know there is always a place for them in our homes and at our tables. By example and inclusiveness, we can give them rest, nourishment and hope. (Heb. 10: 24-25)
As the body of Christ, we must continue to show them the love of Jesus. John states “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 16:35).” When we do this, ultimately we give them the bread of life that will sustain them during the good and bad times, through sickness and pain, through heartache and even death. Nothing will be able to separate them from the love of Jesus ( Romans 8:35-39).
Help us start a revolution in our church and the community by following the vision and mission God provided FBCJ:
Led by the Holy Spirit, we will preach the gospel through holistic (spiritual, social, economic and political) development of our community to uplift and glorify the Kingdom of God while effectively developing disciples of Jesus Christ to bring the transformative gospel to the community of unbelievers.
Minister to the eternal, educational, emotional, environmental, and economic needs of all people through Christ’s liberating gospel by word and deed creating transformation for the whole community.
By Pastor Derek V. Gatling