"it’s a constant battle between culture and your biblical worldview" - Youth Pastor Nate Interview Part 2
Pastor Nate has spent over fifteen years working as a youth pastor in the Evangelical denomination. Because of his experience and unique vantage point on youth and the various culture shifts that have taken place over the last decade or so, I thought he was a good person to talk to about Millennials and the church. Here is the second part of the interview I had with Pastor Nate.
Z: With a more transparent generation (Millennials), what difficulties and topics are you seeing from young people concerning Christianity? What are they passionate about and what are they struggling with?
N: I think the issues Millennials are dealing with are cultural. It’s totally the norm to hook up with somebody before entering a relationship with them. That’s the natural progression now. This will totally mess with someone’s theology because they might know biblically their wrong but culturally it’s right.
I think it’s a constant battle between culture and your biblical worldview. They are so immersed in the culture and it’s so messed up at times I think they start falling into it.
I think many don’t know where they stand. This is because it is such a commitment to walk away from the culture and it’s so frowned upon by the culture to say that you follow the Bible. If you take all the controversial issues right now, Millennials are all about equality and standing up for what’s right, but standing up for what’s right may not be biblically right. It’s what is culturally right. They are really a torn generation. They may be trying to walk it out but they also be torn between making religion what they think is right rather than what is biblically right.
More than ever people are picking and choosing what they like out of the Bible. The salvation message stays the same but so much of the other stuff has been greyed out and rewritten by their own cultural view.
Z: There is a lot of criticism that is directed at Millennials; they don’t have the same commitment to the bible, they are far too liberal, all of those things. How would you respond to an older person speaking about the situation with Millennials?
N: Well they are not all wrong. There is a fair amount of truth to those things but, at the same time Millennials want to do something. They are doers.
I think a big hang-up is many people just talk about the change they want to see but Millennials want to go do something about it.
If you give Millennials something to do and a cause to get behind, they will get behind it. If you can get them passionate about something, even in the church, that thing is going to go because there is passion behind it. If you can get them on board to see truth they would run with that as well. You put a Millennial in ministry their passion is different from those in the past.
Z: What’s does that look like? Many churches say having a twitter account is the way to do that. If you have relevant music, a nice stage and lights then young people will show up. How should the church connect with young people?
N: I think that is where things have been for a long time. I think that has been the view of young people for the last 20 years. You have to have lights on stage, you have to have your pastor tweeting constantly, you have to have up to date music. I think that has been the strategy, but I don’t think that is working. Does having these things mean we are winning? You would think the numbers would be climbing back up, but they’re not.
I think Millennials are tech-savvy and have access to all they could want. It doesn’t matter what you do in the church, they are not impressed. If you are trying to put on a show on Sunday morning they are not impressed. They see this through their whole lives. I don’t think those things are impressive to Millennials at all. I think the thing Millennials are drawn to is the authenticity piece. Identifying with a pastor or a church because of its authenticity is what I think they are drawn to. That doesn’t mean you’re going to get them there because you’re authentic. You still need to find a way to get them there. I’m not sure how to do that necessarily. But once they’re there the show isn’t going to be the thing that keeps them. I really think it’s just about being real with them.
Everybody’s got lights now. Everyone has lights, everyone has the same music, nobody’s got pews, but it’s not making a difference.