Friday 17 May 2019

The Bible in Transmission (Spring 2019) on Millennials

The latest issue of The Bible in Transmission, from Bible Society, is available online here, offering a collection of articles on the theme of ‘Millennials’.

I have taken the ‘tasters’ of articles below from Chine McDonald’s editorial.

Christianity to Millennials was often seen to be hypocritical, judgemental, boring and irrelevant. While these views present challenges to mission among Millennials... Kinnaman points to something... even more concerning: ‘The most common millennial response to religion in general and Christianity in particular, is neutral or none at all,’ he writes.

David Ford asks how the Church in Britain can help digitally savvy Millennials engage more meaningfully with the Bible. His piece draws on... research commissioned by the Bible Society and undertaken by the CODEC research centre in 2017. 

This is also a generation that cares greatly about the world around them. Matthew van Duyvenbode’s article... explores... how this age group emphasises the expectation of helping others. In the 2017 survey, 21% ranked ‘helping others’ as their top aspiration, more important than lifestyle options such as ‘having close friends’, ‘being happy’ and ‘living in a safe environment’. Overall, it ranked as the fifth most likely aspiration. 

The exploration of the unique challenges of black majority churches’ engagement with Millennials... once again reiterates that while there are overarching themes when it comes to reaching 20s and 30s, there are also particular cultural challenges. In his fascinating article, Jason Shields explains: ‘One of the biggest shifts the BME Church is encountering is the increase  in black consciousness of Millennials. The history of Christianity and its involvement in slavery has been a particular sticking point as many black Christians attempt to reconcile their Christian faith and the history of the Church’... This article gives real insight into the different ways that churches are reaching Millennials and how those black and minority ethnic Millennials are in turn reimaging their faith.

One of the key themes that emerges from these pages is authenticity. In her discussion of the place of social media and other digital technologies in the life of the Church, Hannah Stevens reminds us of the importance of the physical presence of open and accessible authentic communities that provide opportunities for spiritual growth.

Pete Wynter... makes the same point: ‘if the church cannot learn to speak with authenticity it will not communicate in an intelligible language to Millennials.’ He argues that the culture of the Church needs to change, that leaders need to learn to become more vulnerable if they are to communicate with authenticity.

Chris Auckland writes about the economic and political environment that has led to the positive aspects of Millennial behaviours... ‘We are in crisis; the system is letting us down, and no one is listening. That is why we are the John the Baptist generation, because we are shouting in the wilderness to warn you of what is to come, because it is going to be so much worse. We are not the outliers, we are the warm-up act.’ It is a stark warning to which those who lead churches must pay attention.

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