Millennial Outreach and Bonhoeffer
I came across an old article in Christianity Today recently titled "Why Your Millennial Outreach Needs a Bit of Bonhoeffer," and I was floored by some of the insights. As a Millennial pastor, I've read my share of articles and books about the Millennial generation - some alarmingly claiming that we're losing this generation and others insisting that ministry to this demographic is crucial still today because young folks like me are the future of the church.
And then these thoughts from Bonhoeffer - who, by the way, worked as a childrens and youth pastor while doing some of his most important theological work: The youth are not the future of the church; Jesus is the future of the church. Bonhoeffer adds, "It is the task of youth not to reshape the church, but rather to listen to the Word of God."
An important note: at first glance, this could be read to say that young people have no role in shaping the church and should just sit and learn. That's not what this quote means. What it does mean is that we make an idol of youthfulness and youth culture by consistently looking to them as "the future of the church." Children, teens, and young adults - just like the rest of us - will only play a significant role in reshaping the church inasmuch as we all come to the feet of the Jesus to learn and grow into Christ-likeness.
The youth are not the future of the church, and neither are the adults.
Jesus is the future of the church.
What does it look like today to love one another, particularly our youth and young adults, with the transformative love of Christ? What does it look like to allow our church culture to be so saturated with Christ's presence that we are changed inside and out? May we look to the future with our eyes fixed on Jesus.
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