Hungry, Why Wait?
by Rev. Dr. Joshua L. Mitchell
Growing up, Snickers candy bars were one of the preferred sweet treats in our household. While I was always more of a Reese’s fan, I have always been intrigued by the creative slogans that the Snickers brand would use to promote the candy. Through the years, my favorite campaign utilized the tagline: “Hungry, Why Wait?” While this tagline was created to signify the need to grab a candy bar for relief from hunger pains, I believe it is also a succinct snapshot of the heart and soul of Millennials as it relates to their engagement of God and the Christian church.
While Millennials are the most religiously unaffiliated generation in U.S. history, their absence from Christian congregations should not be confused with a disinterest in engaging the Divine. On the contrary, Millennials are hungry for truth. They are hungry for answers to questions about the origins and meaning of life. They are hungry to identify their purpose in life, and in many ways they are hungry for a knowledge and understanding of the true and living God. In an era of fake news, crippling natural disasters, high-profile hate crimes, and scandalous accusations being lodged against communities of faith with increasing regularity, Millennials are hungry for confirmation of the existence of an all-powerful God and want to know the difference between God’s true nature and humanity’s “stuff” in the traditions that undergird our religious institutions.
For those still willing to engage our congregations, Millennials are hungry for safe spaces where they can bring their authentic selves and questions about God to the table. They are hungry for community and to be a part of tribes where their presence, talents, and voices are valued and utilized. They are hungry to see change in the world and desire to invest in organizations where their gifts and resources can contribute to visible changes today. To be sure, in a society where everything is seemingly moving at light speed, Millennials are finding ways to feed that hunger both inside and outside of the doors of our churches. If our churches cannot answer their questions fast enough or effectively integrate them into the life, work, and leadership of our congregations, then Millennials can and will simply explore other options.
The more I research and converse with Millennials, the more confident I am that the Christian church already has the solution to the Millennial hunger. There are many valid strategies that can be employed to increase Millennial engagement and discipleship (too numerous for this article), but ultimately the cure for hunger today is the same cure for hunger that the church has possessed since her creation. In a climate full of philosophical candy, Millennials need access to bread. As Jesus reminded His disciples in John 6:51, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever” (NIV). This generation is hungry for nutrition that our Jesus can provide, and it is our responsibility to deliver. After all, if they’re hungry, why wait?
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