Three days ago my mother emailed me an article about hospitality for the millennial generation. I had seen the article on Facebook a few days before, but it was one of those, “oh I’ll read it later” moments which inevitably turn into “I forgot.”
If you have a few minutes, I highly suggest reading the article, but here’s a summary: The independent rootlessness of emerging adults presents potent opportunities for the practice of hospitality.
I’ve been reading a lot about the millennial generation recently, and a lot of it is written from the point of view of the previous generation. Everyone is desperate to find the secret key to manage, motivate, and keep millennial employees. I’ve even been told to try to ignore my millennial tendencies. It’s not just the business world struggling to figure out millennials – neither has the church.
I don’t claim to be an expert. I never studied sociology or psychology or even organizational behavior. But I am a millennial, and I can relate to everything in that article.
We are conditioned to believe that we are unstoppable: the best thing that ever happened to America. We believe we can live carefree lives full of adventure, and switch jobs as soon as we’re bored, all while maintaining enormous social and financial success.
We take the job in the city far away, because who would want to stay in their hometown when there is so much of the world to experience? And it’s only after we’ve started the “dream job” that we realize: all the “live your dreams” speeches we heard didn’t teach us how to budget or cook for ourselves. Health insurance, IRAs, student loan repayment – that comes after we’ve punched the clock from 9-5.
It’s overwhelming and it’s especially difficult when you’re alone. Communication with your best friends from college turns into a phone call every few months, and your family isn’t there for Friday night dinner or to help with your tax return.
But where is the church in all this? For the millennials who grew up in the church, we’re accustomed to the community that a church provides – but it’s been developed by our parents while we’ve grown up with relatively little effort on our part.
But now that we’re grown up with our college degrees and big-kid jobs – we find ourselves awkwardly standing around for a few minutes after church and then bolting for the door when the awkward “is anyone going to talk to me” feeling is too overwhelming.
Maybe the church has young adult programs, but if someone doesn’t specifically invite the new visitor – many won’t have the courage to go alone. And if someone doesn’t reach out to the millennial visitor, they might not visit again. As much as I liked the church I was attending this summer, I hated Sunday mornings because it meant going to church alone. Sitting alone. Worshiping alone. And then standing there while you slowly and awkwardly gathered your things unsure whether you should approach someone, or if you should wait for someone to approach you… before giving up and slipping out the door.
It took a lot of effort and forcing myself to approach people, introduce myself, and make awkward conversation, and ask them for their name because I’d already forgotten it 5 minutes later. If it hadn’t been for a few other people my age, I don’t know if I would have stayed.
If you’re sitting at your church or workplace, what are you doing to welcome the displaced millennial? Cause take it from someone who knows, your life, your crazy kids, your messy home, and the spaghetti you’ll make in 5 minutes?
We’re craving you to reach out and invite us into your life.