Gen Z and Millennial Christianity. What is it that draws us to God? What made you take the first steps to pray for salvation and place your trust in Jesus Christ? Were you carrying burdens from your past and sought relief from the pain of this world? Were you one of the many analytical seekers who weighed the proof of God vs science and realized the truth? For many it may have been the fear of the unknown in the afterlife. We unite together as Christians but we come to God for so many different reasons.
There is a new wave with Millennial and Gen Z Christianity that is not unfamiliar, but is coming under scrutiny. Many see this trend as a self-centered approach to salvation. Put simply, the “Me” generation is criticized for their focus on receiving over giving. But perhaps we are judging too quickly…
Looking Deeper into Millennial and Gen Z Christianity
Millennial and Gen Z Christianity is often seen as a new breed of Christian who seeks God for their own benefit with no intention of serving others. Criticism often comes from their focus on the self, inconsistency in tithing, and lack of ambition to hold and volunteer in church roles. They go to church “just to feel good” and are seen as seeking God because they lack acceptance and unconditional love in their lives. They are criticized for their ingrained focus on self-identity and public opinion, believed to stem from the influence of social media.
On the outside, many of these perceived traits appear true. Younger generations are less likely to tithe 10% of their earnings. And many leave the leadership roles in church to their more elder Christian brothers. I can speak first hand on this since I came to Christianity for what God was doing in my life. Not out of fear of hell, a sense of community, or opportunities to give back to the church. When I came to Christ, I was self-focused. I wanted to have a relationship with God because I saw His love and I wanted it to fill my being and make me a better person. The person only God could see in me, with purpose.
from my personal experience
Was I wrong? I selfishly stumbled to the alter and prayed for God into my life because I needed His love to consume me. It was all about me and how I saw myself without God. Like so many of my peers, I sat up front in church and allowed myself to be lost in the feeling of the spirit.
I took from God all the love He was willing to give. I didn’t feel the need to talk to anyone, volunteer to help, or even drop money into the offering plate. More than likely, I came across as self-serving to many. But I vividly remember how the songs about God’s unceasing love would bring tears to my eyes. Slowly, I learned to love God because of His amazing love for me. That’s when God’s real work in my life began.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13
To the Millennial and Gen Z Christian
Now for the reality check for all my fellow “Me” generations. You are not wrong. In fact, anyone criticizing you for your willingness to admit your selfishness and throw yourself at the feet of God is lacking faith in God’s promise of sanctification.
If God’s love was an endless ocean, your mind is the dam holding it all back. God does not hesitate to pour His love on you. You are the only thing holding back the flood of love and acceptance God has waiting for you.
You should embrace the “Me generation” label because you are opening the flood gates to allow God’s love to come pouring out. One day, you will be filled so full of God’s love that it to spill out over others around you. God wants you to seek Him out and open yourself up to His glory, His grace, and definitely His love. God loves you unconditionally because you are His creation. As a father myself, my love for my two sons isn’t conditional on their love for me. Even if they don’t love me, that doesn’t affect my love for them.
Salvation then sanctification
It is perfectly okay to love God because He loved you first, that is only recognizing the truth. He did love you first. He loved you before you were ever created. You may have loved God for a year, 10 years, 20 years; but He has loved you for an eternity. Your love for Him will grow as He works in your life and eradicates the darkness in and around you.
The only path to the Father is through Jesus Christ, but there are many paths that lead you to Jesus. We all come to Him broken and sinful, undeserving of His grace. No path to Christ is more deserving than another. But everyone that receives salvation shares an equal inheritance as a child of God. Once gifted the Holy Spirit, God begins to change you through sanctification. He will do amazing things in your life, you only have to keep your focus on Him and keep those flood gates open. Leave your heart and mind open to the words of 2 Timothy 3:1-5:
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
To The Critics of Millennial and Gen Z Christianity
To those who doubt and criticize, remember that it is God that we serve. Anyone willing to step into the presence of God is His child and is loved infinitely. God does not have to put limits on His love because it is endless. Allow other Christians to grow and trust in God’s work in their lives. Holding others accountable is about keeping a fellow Christian on the right path to God, not about how often they volunteer or how much they drop into the offering plate. God is working in their lives and deepening His relationship with that person.
Even if you come to God for selfish intentions, salvation gifts the Holy Spirit who works in our lives through sanctification. His Spirit guides us toward God’s path and helps strengthen our relationship with God for a lifetime. Newer Christians may not be able to quote Bible verses or feel the calling to serve yet. But if they understand God’s love and can share that with others, the future of Millennial and Gen Z Christianity is very bright. Trust God and His work within His children. Don’t lean on your own understanding of how it “should be” or “has been done.”
Salvation vs Sanctification: It is a Process and God is Faithful
A decade later in church, I am still self-focused on God’s love in a way. But I also share His love with others, write articles to help fellow believers find comfort in my Father, and guide my own children to a deeper relationship with God. My faith in God’s love is so strong that my wife and I raise our children to know nothing other than Christianity. There isn’t another choice for us. We know, without doubt, that Jesus is the way to salvation and I want that for my two sons as much as I want it for myself. God has worked diligently in my life.
Today, I volunteer, I give, I love others, I witness and I even share things from my life I never thought I would share just to help someone else. God is the center of my universe. And because I started my faith in God’s love, I would say I have the strongest of foundations.
Salvation is not the same as sanctification. Allow others to come to God on their own terms and trust that God will shape and purify their lives into something fruitful and beautiful. I am not the person I was when I first walked to the alter, I am better. I am an imperfect child of God who He loves unconditionally and is shaping to fulfill the purpose He has for me. If the “Me” generation sees God the same way, then the battle is already won.