The Table Briefing: Ministering To Millennials -- By: Darrell L. Bock

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 174:695 (Jul 2017)
Article: The Table Briefing: Ministering To Millennials
Author: Darrell L. Bock

The Table Briefing:
Ministering To Millennials

Darrell L. Bock


Mikel Del Rosario

Darrell L. Bock is Senior Research Professor in New Testament Studies and Executive Director for Cultural Engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. Mikel Del Rosario is a doctoral student in New Testament Studies, Project Manager for Cultural Engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary, and adjunct professor at William Jessup University, Rocklin, California.

Millennials have surpassed boomers as the largest living generation in the United States.1 The Pew Research Center defines millennials as people born between 1981 and 1996.2 This presents a growing challenge, as many in this demographic hold a negative view of Christianity. How can the church respond?

Millennial Views Of Christianity And The Church

On an episode of the Table called “Engaging with Millennials,” Q Ideas Founder Gabe Lyons joined Darrell Bock to discuss the situation.

Lyons: David Kinnaman and I did a research project that led to a book called Un-Christian.3 That pretty well laid out that

the next generation perceives the Christian faith as being very judgmental, too political—meaning right-wing politics oriented—only interested in converting people, proselytizing, [and] anti-gay. . . . They just have negative views about the Christian faith in general. . . .

Millennials now are finding it very easy to disassociate from faith and religion [altogether]. Some of that can be chalked up to the culture they’ve inhabited that sees religion as . . . shaming people [instead of being] a life-giving source for our communities. . . . In some cases, their parents were very hands-off when it came to the faith discussion and religion in general. . . . There’s a lot of value given to [being] open to all ideas and all expressions. And so parents really stepped way back from encouraging their children towards a specific path. And I think we’re seeing some of the fruit of that.

Bock: So we’re in a situation where “the nones”4 are growing in significant numbers and the church is wrestling with “How did this happen?” and “Is there any way to stop it?”

Lyons: Yeah . . . thirty-four percent of eighteen- to twenty-two-year olds don’t identify with any religion. . . ....

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